photo by Danny Rothenberg / Rapport for Newsweek
A wonderful first person essay in Newsweek in June. Jimmy Doyle writes from the heart. His search for a church that accepted him and accepted his gifts and his worship resonates with every gay Christian who sits in the pew of a non-accepting church, as well as those who get up, walk out and find a new one.
Gays must be included in the life of the church as God planned them to be.
Let Me Worship as I Am
From a young age I felt called to Christ. But as a gay man, I took a long time to find my spiritual home.
From the magazine issue dated Jun 23, 2008
In October 2005 I took the soup. To an Irish Catholic, “taking the soup” means going to the other side, turning Protestant. During the famine years, one could get a bowl of soup if one sat through a Protestant service, which meant automatic excommunication in those pre-ecumenical days. So the slang was born, implying desertion of the One True Church in order to make life easier.
I suppose what I took wasn’t soup, but it was comfort. I took a life steeped in the mystery and rhythm of the church along with what I hoped was a life with the integrity of being an open, practicing gay man. When I turned to the Episcopal Church, I saw a Christianity that was alive and evolving, one that delighted in difference and saw God’s creation in many things, including women and openly gay men serving as priests and bishops. I saw a chance to get past the separation and sanctimony of the more vocal Christian presence in American society, and a challenge to get to the more nuanced and tricky teachings of Christ—loving your neighbor and all that. I hoped to live and worship as I was created, not as I was condemned. And so I took catechism at St. Thomas the Apostle, where the smells and bells made me feel at home, although the challenges of parish life made me want to sleep some Sundays. After six months of classes in the teachings of the Anglican faith, I was “received” into the communion in a high mass attended by friends and my partner, with not a dry eye in the house. The healing I felt as I stood before the assistant bishop and reaffirmed my faith was, without a doubt, of the Spirit.
Read the rest here: “Let Me Worship as I am”
When I was living in Canada under a Student Visa, I was constantly being asked to stop doing this or that for fear of deportation. You couldn’t make money at that time off campus. Unfortunately, it seemed the interpretation of those laws was arbitrarily decided–and I didn’t know, nor had I seen, the laws used against me. The breakthrough that happened for me was being able to SEE the book that Immigration was working from. Once I had their book, I could know where they were coming from–and find loopholes to use to survive.
Echoing this article, let me emphasize how important for the GLBT community to know their Bible well. It is the language of this gay struggle. It is even the language of the gay struggle in Canada–the one that everyone thinks we’ve won. If we don’t convince SOME mainstream churches to re-examine the biblical evidence, changing the laws makes little difference on suicide rates, hate crimes and discrimination. Yes, Canada allows Same-Sex Marriage, but bible-believing people can still wield a lot of power and authority, and can hurt a lot of gay people unintentionally with their intolerance and skewed ideas of the bible. Let me recommend a book for GLBT Christians.
The Newsweek article: Our Mutual Joy, one of the best articles in a mainstream magazine that looks closely at the biblical and evangelical arguments around Same Sex Marriage–and they ARE different.
Bulletproof Faith: a Spiritual Survival Guide for Gay and Lesbian Christians by Candace Chellew-Hodge; an awesome book on how to cope with evangelical attacks. Both how to answer them, but also how to protect yourself inside from the demoralizing effects of that kind of attacking. It’s not only for believers, but for everyone who is hurt by “christian” attacks–it damages your character, your soul, your well-being. This is a good book for building the armor.
Reconciling Journey: a devotional workbook for gay and lesbian christians. Specifically for recovering your spirituality–something that may have been ripped from you.
Start there. Read up. Even if you don’t believe in the Bible, give these books a chance–what’s at stake is your personhood right now. And God is a greater advocate than Christians right now. And knowing the book used against you is always helpful.