To be a Christian, it’s important to live a life of integrity, honesty, transparency, and of love. Being in the closet doesn’t allow these things to happen. You will find it difficult to love others if you can’t love yourself first, and increasingly, hiding who you are will take away the friendships you wanted to preserve. Being in the closet is a false sense of security–and like every big secret, it takes a big toll.
But how do you be who you are and keep the church and the faith and the God that you love? Where is the abundant life Christ promised us? While we, as Christians, are ready to sacrifice our pleasures and lives for the cause of Christianity—certainly we’re not all required to give up our sexual expression. And I can’t believe God intended only gay people to do that either, while letting straight Christians have more freedom.
If fear keeps us in the closet, it will have to be “love” that casts out that fear. If love is the answer to eradicating fear, it’s going to take a lot of people’s decisions. I’ve outlined a few of them in the pages: what to do when someone comes out to your church, and what to do when you want to come out to your church. But let’s look at the life you can have as a gay Christian.
“I have come that you might have life and have it more abundantly”
Amen. So what will that look like, and how do I know that this life is possible? First, I know it’s possible because Christ offered it to everyone–not just the straight folk. We already saw how Jesus treated those who “sinned,” which in his eyes had to be everyone. Think about it. And he affirmed them. Welcomed and affirmed them. His “Good News” is for everyone.
More Freedom to be who you need to be
If and when you come out, you will find a great freedom. “The truth shall set you free” never meant more to anyone else than it does to GLBT Christians. Literally it allows us to stretch and grow, unencumbered by the constant weight of our own fear and the constant work of our own deception. You will find yourself able to love others deeply, more deeply than you ever have before—because you have been rejected too. And you have tried to play the game of perfection.
I’ll tell you this about that game: you’re not going to be as nitpicky about perfection anymore. Because tied to the pursuit of perfection is the pursuit of a perfect reputation. And once you come out, your reputation will take a beating, at least in some circles. Whew! That’s a load off your shoulders, I expect. Now you don’t have to live up to anyone’s expectations. You and God still work things out, but you don’t have to be “perfect.”
You will be where Jesus was–not in the elite, not in the people polishing their Sunday School attendance pins, or seeing who could outdo whom–you will be with the people who are hurting, and who need to know that God and Jesus still care for them. Until you are rejected, you almost can’t see the invisible “Rejected” around you.
It’s an Old Message for the New Evangelicals
It’s amazing the parallels between Paul’s struggle with bringing Gentiles in to the mostly Jewish church, and today’s struggle with the acceptance of the GLBT community in the mostly Straight church. But Jews adapted–and ironically, the church became mostly gentile. I don’t think the church will become mostly gay…. However. The reason that the Christian church lost its Jewish heritage is because mainstream Jews didn’t want to give up their traditions to embrace new ones. The church gathered members from the Gentile community. Who knows if the parallel will extend to modern churches? Churches without gay members might completely break away, and we will see that those churches that accept gay members are the only true churches left.
As a Gay Christian, you get to talk about Jesus in a completely different way. Suddenly God and Jesus are divorced from mainstream evangelical creeds that come across as judgmental, fear-inducing and shame-oriented. You get to bring the original message–of hope, of love, of salvation–that has gotten mired by 21st Century Corporate-Modeled churches who think of membership and tithes as dues to a club, and the prestige of membership–with its benefits–as available to those who can pay. (To be fair, some MCC churches also stress a financial angle–for the good of God and the good of the mission–and they can add just as much pressure for the generosity of those who attend services.)
You get a chance to show Jesus on the right side of justice and the right side of history once again—you get to save Jesus from the Conservative Evangelical Doctrine that had him trapped. People need to know they are loved and accepted in whatever way they want to express themselves. Christ isn’t Republican, Conservative, Wealthy or Exclusively White. But he seems owned by them. You get a chance to break that mold, to show Jesus as the person who can go anywhere to talk to anyone and spread joy and love to them. You get to be Christ to a world that needs him.
There is a Joy in being liberated from the confines of current Christianity
The Rule is Love. Love God, Love Each Other. In Jesus’ words, it was “To love the Lord your God with all your heart, your soul and mind.” And the second was like it–that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves. All the commandments and laws HANG on this idea, he said. Notice that it’s not the reverse. Loving God and Each Other do not HANG on keeping the commandments. We get caught up in commandment keeping, rule keeping, and lose sight of what’s truly important. Of who is truly important. I’ve heard countless preachers amend Jesus by saying, “and the way to love God is to keep his commandments…” and then they list a hundred rules that you have to follow or else you make God angry. Thank God you don’t have to listen to them any longer.
Preachers have power, for now. They’re enjoying their time with power–and they can bring politicians to their knees. I wait for the day that a politician puts a preacher in his place. But you don’t have to worry anymore about preachers. You can if you want–you can fight them and tell them they’re wrong, but you can also turn around and do good in the community and let the false churches and the false prophets rail on….
Your Power is with God. God is not with the Preachers who are against you. Romans 8:31 “If God is for you, who can be against you?” That goes for Preachers and Evangelicals and those who have anything to say about the exclusionary nature of God, or his “rule” of celibacy for gay people. Be the disciples who were in direct conflict with the City (Acts 5) who preached the gospel because they had to obey God rather than man. Let no one stop you from telling gays and lesbians, bisexuals, transgenders, and straight people too that God loves them–and that God has a plan for them. Tell them it does not include suffering under the straightjackets of any church that says the GLBT community must stop “acting on” their gayness.
The Lost and the Evangelicals: a reversal of roles
Today, the GLBT community can be the evangelicals who tell the good news of Christ’s love. The churches, unfortunate for them, get to be the LOST who need to hear this message. They dished it out for so long, they believe they can say no wrong, but God knows they have gotten off topic and off message. It’s time they got a new lesson in Christianity.
“It is Good that Man not Be Alone”
The importance of the Genesis story for man is that God knew that Adam should not be alone—and neither should anyone. Though Adam was straight and needed an Eve, you are not, and you need a partner. Many in the gay community have given up on partnership. No wonder–the straight community has not allowed us to have it for hundreds of years–but it is still a good thing to have a partner, to not be alone.
You have the freedom now to find someone, and over the next ten years, there will be more and more Christian men and women to choose from—but get someone who can love, whom the bitterness and cynicism given to us by the straight culture has not broken–if you find the cynical and the bitter, love them and help them know they don’t have to listen to anyone who tells them that they are less. It’s a NEW OLD Good News—the original is the best, and it was for everyone.
Take back Christianity. You are made to have an abundant life in Christ Jesus and the enemies who come in Christ’s name are not acting anymore on His behalf. They have lost their way. Love them and when they don’t listen, wipe the dust from your shoes and move out to those who will listen to the great message of New Life.