I realized I should probably give a thoughtful response to each of the below comments rather than assuming that all my readers will be able to automatically understand where I’m coming from and why I would react to these statements. After all, each of these statements were made by people who I trust and deeply respect. Hence, I’m re-publishing a remix of this post with my added thoughts. aaaand remix:
I wonder why I feel like I must fight so very hard to defend my acceptance of my orientation… The following are excerpts from actual conversations I had within the past month.
Common questions/confrontations/accusations that my friends raise with regard to ‘the gay thing’
Comment: “Gay people stumble in making an identity out of their orientation. They talk about it all the freaking time! Jeeeze, chill out people. Its not like we (heteros) are always talking about being heterosexual and parading that in front of everyone.” This is also commonly phrased as a confrontation – “David, as much as you process this and it seems to be on your mind, I feel like you’re finding an unhealthy level of identity in this.”
Response: There’s actually a lot of truth to this statement and I really appreciate the guy who in all sincerity expressed this concern to me. Like anything else, there’s a lot of danger in focusing too much on one aspect of yourself – after all, as broken humans we are constantly attempting to find satisfaction apart from our true hope and identity in Christ. Its easy to understand why we’d feel the inclination to elevate our gay identification. As an anonymous blogger put it, “to the degree that someone feels oppressed based on a certain characteristic, they will identify with that characteristic in a proportional way.” That’s why the nerds elevate their nerdiness, ethnic minorites elevate their cultural association, workaholics elevate their job position, etc. In recognition of this inclination, I still find good reason to discuss and study about the gay in me. While true, I must be careful to put my pursuit of God first and not neglect other aspects of my person, this is an internally controversial part of me that needs to be better understood and dealt with.
Comment: “why do you feel the need to have to know and hang out with other gay people? I struggle with eating, its not like I get together with all ‘my fatties’ to hang out all the time.”
Response: While I understand this comment… I also react quite strongly to it. For it assumes that my ‘gay struggle’ is in fact just like any other forbidden sin in the bible. Rather, I would identify it more closely with an ethnic group of people or perhaps another ‘gender’ group. Being gay isn’t a behavior per say (though it can be), but rather a deeper part of our being that directly affects the way we think and typically creates many shared experiences – for ex., most gay people will automatically understand the fight against shame and judgement based on orientation. I deeply value diversity in my community and continue to seek out people who think quite differently from myself. However, we all feel the need to seek out people who understand us with regard to what makes us unique. My response was that just as I seek out gay community, I also seek out community with other Christians, internationals, men, artists/designers, runners, etc.
Comment: After discussing at length why I feel I am at this time in my life called to being single/celibate – unable to in good conscience date men or women for that matter. “Huh. Yeah, I can understand that – but why can’t you date girls?”
Response: This was a super frustrating convo. I think at the end, my take-away is that this is a really difficult issue for Christians to understand. Our worldview has been faithfully engrained in us from our young childhood by our loving parents who discipled us and put us through every bible/church-related thing they thought would grow us spiritually. While on one hand, this provides many of us with a solid spiritual foundation, on the other hand, it makes contemplating something that goes contrary to this mindset incredibly difficult. I had to realize that this straight Christian man just had no reference point to be able to understand why on earth I couldn’t just decide to date good Christian women and let my natural masculine biological created self take over. A good friend admitted to me just last night that much of his aversion to pro-gay theology doesn’t come from a place of biblical confidence but rather a culturally inherited one.
Comment: “I understand what you are dealing with. I mean, I have an unwanted natural inclination to want to sin as well. I struggle with being tempted to lust after women, you just happen to struggle with that about men. Why is your struggle any different?”
Response: Lol. I’ve heard this one so often now that I almost laughed. Sure, we’re all called to celibacy before marriage. Sure, we’re all on the same playing field in terms of brokenness and natural tendency toward sin. Were pro-gay theology in fact truth, yes, there would be no difference. However, if acting on gay attractions is indeed counter to scripture (as the speaker of this statement confidently believes), then there is a very distinct difference to our shared fight for purity. For in that case, as a gay man, I would be forbidden from ever hoping to experience the deeper levels of human intimacy that are satisfied sexually within the bonds of God-blessed, marital, monogomous commitment.
Comment: After excitedly telling a friend about registering for GCN’s upcoming conference. “Is that a good idea from a temptation standpoint? I don’t know how I feel about you being around that many gay people for several days.”
Response: I am so appreciative that I live in a community where my brothers feel comfortable enough to question me and voice their concerns out of a sincere desire to look out for my best. However, this one cracks me up. I live in a decent sized city within close proximity to the gay-er part of town. I encounter gay people on a frequent basis and sing with over 100 gay men in a very not-Christian, out-and-proud community choir. While yes, I’m sure there will be many people at the conference with whom I will be sexually compatible, that doesn’t mean I’m going to be any more tempted than usual to compromise my values… and when we take into account the fact that its a Christian conference, that likelihood is even less. I’m a little offended to be honest. My straight brethren are around people who are potential sexual partners far more often than I ever am, yet we don’t freak out about that. Lol, I don’t attempt to dissuade my roommates from going to church every Sunday out of concern that they won’t be able to hold to their values around so many beautiful women.
But then, there have also been the blessings
-my roommate and best friend told me that he wants to tag along to the GCN conference because he wants to “walk through this journey with [me]”
Response: I cried. I know that my coming out has been extremely difficult for him and he’s had to deal with a lot of personal issues with homophobic prejudice. Whether or not he’s actually able to come, that he would be willing to put himself in such an uncomfortable situation for my sake really got to me.
-getting connected to some GCNers in KC and hearing their stories.
Response: Actually knowing people on a personal level who have struggled through the internal gay-Christian conflict makes a huge difference. Its like discovering a your own minority within a minority.
-while not affirming, my roommates are incredibly supportive and always provide a listening ear or shoulder to cry on
– reconnecting with a friend from college and coming out to her only to discover that she is lesbian. The ensuing discussions have been thoroughly enjoyable.