Sunday, September 19, 2010

Share Your Story


There is too much silence in our community.  There is a silence on the issue of being gay or lesbian, that is occasionally being interrupted by less than informed lectures and discussions on the topic.   While the subject of coming out is very sensitive for various reasons of safety, family, and survival, this is our chance to fill the silence with a dose of truth and reality.  

Unfortunately, we've practiced for years how to be someone else, that sometimes we don't even know who we are, but when we break the silence, and tell our stories, we practice finding ourselves again.   If you have a story to share, you will be helping all the people out there who are looking in silence for someone to relate to, and you will be among those who are raising their voices in solidarity with them.

All submissions are welcome:

  • Coming Out:  (or inability to)
  • Relationships: The good, bad, and ugly
  • Thoughts on Spirituality
  • Anything else!
Any personal testimony submitted will be under the strictest confidence and discretion to the degree of comfort by the author.   Now's the time to speak.   Email me, contact info on the right -->

Let's let our voices be heard.


Kiss and Break Up...World Records: LIVE!



How about something fun for a change.

"I could kiss you forever…." Heard that before? Forget forever, how about more than 32 hours and 7 minutes? Because that's how long Matty and Bobby, two college students from New Jersey will have to kiss in order to break the current world record held by a German couple which was set in 2009.

The main questions are:

How will they eat?
How will they use the bathroom?
Will this experiment destroy their desire to connect intimately with another human being again?

Tune in and cheer these guys on!

Friday, September 17, 2010

We're On Facebook!

A Facebook Community Page for people who generally cannot be public about their sexuality:  What's the point? I suspect at first that the majority of followers / members will generally be straight open minded Copts who are secure in who they are and will support a cause that is generally looked down upon, as well as non-coptic LGBT Christians.   At the very least those who cannot publicly join, will have something to read.

In any case, we're here, we're queer, and we're social networking.

http://www.facebook.com/pages/LGBT-Coptic-Christians/102566516473911

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Great Misconception

Is it only about sex?

The weekend is over, and it's time to talk about sex! That's right baby, it's time to talk about all the good things and the bad things that may be.   Wait a minute, scratch that, let's look at something more interesting:  how about a look at love?   Love is a many splendored thing-love lifts us up where we belong-all you need is love!    I can hear my dear Ms. Turner beg the age old question: "What's love got to do with it?"

Look out your window and what do you see?   Do you see a city sky-scape?  A lush green landscape surrounded by mountains?  A brick wall with a crack-whore down below?  A view is something many people will pay extra for when booking a hotel or buying a house, and it is as simple as follows:  a view is what someone sees from where they stand.   A view of the ocean says nothing about whether or not the ocean is too cold for swimming, or free of sharks.    A mountain may look wonderful and tranquil from my view, and a closer look may reveal a treacherous ecosystem, or maybe within you may find an ocean of life-ending molten rock.  A view of a campfire in the distance will not reveal the wonderful fellowship occurring around it by its participants.  A view is shallow and reveals merely a perspective on the nature of the object in the distance.  I think that understanding this simple notion we take for granted is important in being able to realize that the official Coptic Church only has a view of homosexuality, without digging deeper into the questions and lives of people who claim to be gay and lesbian.

A few years ago, the Coptic Patriarch, Shenouda III of Alexandria was asked to respond to the recent dialogue of homosexuality in the Christian church at large, especially in regards to the ordaining of clergy and higher ranks of the church who are openly gay and lesbian.   In his statement, the patriarch made clear the church's "view" on homosexuality:

I am sorry to have to speak about an issue that has become a topic of popular discussion in the church of late. This subject is homosexuality, and it ought not to be a matter of discussion.


First of all, homosexuality is against nature. Sexual expression is permitted only within marriage, between man and woman, male and female. Anything else is an abnormality and is against nature. When our Lord Jesus Christ discussed this matter with the scribes and Pharisees in St. Matthew chapter nineteen and St. Mark chapter ten, He said 'From the beginning, God made them male and female,' man and woman. This is the will of our God from the beginning of creation. When people walked according to the lust of the flesh in the Old Testament, they received severe punishment from God. At the time of the Flood, only the pure, only eight persons in the Ark of Noah were saved. All the people who were not clean, who walked according to the flesh, perished. Also, the people of Sodom, who were not clean, were burned with fire. 

He continues

St. Paul spoke about the debased mind of the homosexual using the phrase 'exchanged the natural use for what is against nature.' We take this to clearly mean that homosexuality is clearly against nature. This he avers is uncleanness and dishonor of the body, also receiving penalty.

and finally and this is VERY important

It is claimed that homosexuality is a kind of love between man and man. No, my brothers. Love should be spiritual; love should be pure. We love others in purity. We love others in the Spirit. And loving others should not be against our love of God, because our Lord Jesus Christ has said, 'He who loves father, son, wife, sister, or brother, more than Me, is not worthy of Me, is not worthy to be My disciple.' We cannot love any other person more than our Lord Jesus Christ. Every love which we have, should be love in the Lord. We love in the Lord, not against. The homosexual love is not love, but lust, and there is a great difference between love and lust, lust of the flesh. The word love is not suitable for such a relation, because in the Gospel we say, 'God is love.' How can we say, 'Homosexuality is love?' It is not love; it is a bodily lust, a deviated lust of the flesh, a lust that should be corrected.

 These are some pretty loaded statements.  But reveals a great misconception that not only the Coptic Church, but many institutions around the world, have about what it means to be gay, or what goes on in the minds and hearts of gay people.   His Holiness takes a few verses and uses them to define the people he is speaking of.   But if the people he is talking about are claiming to be different than his descriptions, then who is correct?   If gays claim that His Holiness is wrong, then maybe the main question is, can love exist in a homosexual relationship?

The Roman Orgy:
What the church envisions homosexual love to look like
except replace the women with well-built men in speedos.


I think the question goes beyond love.   Love can be defined in so many ways.  The Greeks have many words for our single English word.   There's Philio, Storge, Eros, and Agape.  We each experience one or many of these in different relationships in our lives, and many will say that in a romantic, committed relationship that would lead to marriage, two people should have all 4 loves.   And let us take it to the next level:  some people say that its not only about two people and love, but that a relationship takes three:  each person in the couple, and God, braided together into an unbreakable cord.

How does one know if Love or God is in the midst of a relationship?   Well, Matthew has a lot to say about testing the integrity of a person or situation, as Jesus uses the symbolism of a tree, in order to explain how one may recognize the truth within:   "Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit." - Matt 12:33

So what are the fruits of love?
"Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it." - Song of Solomon 8:7
"A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." - John 13:34-35
"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13
"Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God." - 1 John 4:7
"Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness [phileo], and in your brotherly kindness, love [agape]" - 1 Peter 5-7
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." - 1 Corinthians 13:6-7
 Love is unquenchable and passionate.   It is Godly.   It is above the normal human vibration.   It is self-sacrificing.  It is patient, kind, secure, humble, and forgiving.  It is self control and perseverance.  True love endures obstacles and hardships.  True love is gracious and graceful.   A true love relationship will challenge both members to move towards these things and bring each closer to themselves, and closer to God.     Can such characteristics exist in a gay relationship?

I know a couple, both of whom had not dated anyone before knowing one another, and entered into relationship with intentionality and prayer.  Each has sought to love the other to the best of their capacity.  Each worked on moving forward and resolving difficulty.   And they finally sealed their love in a commitment before God and God's people: they got married.    I know this couple very well, and I see the fruits of love and the fruits of the spirit in their relationship.  I see it in the kindness they have for one another, I see it in the humor they share, and the generosity they provide.  I see it in the way they treat their friends and families.   Their love is no different than the healthy straight married couples I know.  In fact their love is one they had to fight for amidst pressures and fears and insecurities, above and beyond what the average couple would ever have to face.   I see two people who are learning the kind of self-sacrificing love that exists when two people come together, that can only be possible when Love (capital L) exists, and in this situation there is the hand of the divine.   It is a view that is close up, as I'm engaged in the details of their relationship.  The church has a view from afar.    The main difference between His Holiness and myself is, I know this couple.  I'm intimately connected to them.   His Holiness has never met them, in fact, he doesn't know that each of them exist on this planet, as he has never been introduced to them.   In fact we see a situation where the church is describing people without even knowing who they are, or not knowing any of the facts about them, but merely quoting a few verses which describe a behavior common to a certain context and a certain period, using words which are no longer used today.    The disconnect is evident.   By the church's view (not definition, so much), I wonder what they would expect from the nature of a gay relationship if they took a step to examine more closely.

The church quotes statistics about the rarity of monogamous gay relationships.  While the sources of these statistics are questionable at best,  let's say for arguments sake, that these statistics are correct, and that the gay community has a higher incidence of infidelity, selfishness, debauchery and other such issues.   And let's even take it to another extreme, let's just say out of the hundreds of thousands of gay couples out there, that there is only ONE gay couple in the world that demonstrates the existence of this love that is evidence of God's blessing and work in their relationship.   If there is even only one out there, then the whole argument against homosexuality collapses on itself, why?   Because then we see that it is INDEED POSSIBLE. Just because something is not common, does it mean that it is impossible?   And by virtue of possibility, we can then realize that there is something true there.   Sainthood and miracle working is certainly not common, it does not mean, however that it doesn't exist.  On the contrary, something rare and pure is something to be strived after and admired.    So then if it is possible, the next question is, then why is it not common. That is a whole other conversation there, but the question should not dictate the morality of the homosexual relationship.  

Any statement to the contrary, especially those put out by the Coptic Church, its patriarch and its many bishops, basically says that the homosexual relationship, a relatively new paradigm in the history of human relationships, is merely a vehicle for the expression of depraved lusts.   Can a house built on depravity stand?   Many would say, absolutely not, unless the goal is depravity itself. Then if that were the case, then it would be arguable that every homosexual relationship has its basis on one thing alone, and that is the sex act, and all other aspects are ornamental, and secondary to that.

Guess what, Sex is easy!   Why build a paradigm which makes obtaining a lusty orgasm that much more difficult?  Why "ruin" a path to endless pleasures and self-indulgence with a model of self sacrifice?   Well, maybe this model for love is one that makes us better people, and this world a better place.

The church will turn a blind eye and say LOVE DOES NOT EXIST, But many gays and lesbians will, to the contrary, stand by their stories and one day, can show the world, that this great misconception is indeed false.     Maybe then can the world understand that a gay man is no different from a straight man.  A lesbian is no different than her heterosexual counterpart.  And that at the end of the day, people are people, and are not merely one-dimensional vehicles for desire, but have great potential and capacity.  Once that capacity and potential is embraced and integrated within the self, only then can it be brought out into the light, and once it's in the light, the shadows are removed and the love of God can shine upon the individual, and it is at that moment, that ALL THINGS become possible, in the midst of hatred, fear, pressure, and temptation, can the gay or lesbian start to recognize the truth within him or herself, and begin to shine as a vehicle for God's love, and if fate / God / or the universe permit, be able to reflect this love onto a partner.   And it is within this unit, that we find the model for all of us to follow:  love amidst brokenness, peace amidst chaos, and hope, in a jaded world.

Do you have an experience in a loving gay / lesbian relationship?  Share your stories.  The world needs to hear them.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Dignity



For those in the Los Angeles area, make sure you pay a visit to Dignity Los Angeles.   They are an advocacy group for the support, respect, and inclusion of LGBT Catholics.   They have chapters all around the country, and organize special services, events, and liturgies for LGBT believers and loved ones.    It would be a dream to see such a group transpire within the Coptic Community.

While reading message boards on the subject of homosexuality, it is obvious that the Coptic Church has little to no experience with this issue, and this lack of dialogue is dangerous for its congregants.   There is a lack of dignity in the way the church deals with this issue.    While it would be ideal for folks to remain close to their roots and love the church they grew up in, to worship in Spirit and in Truth is the ultimate, as Jesus said.  A day will come where it will not be about facing Jerusalem, or Alexandria in our case :)

I don't think the clergy need to look any further than the One whom they not only worship, but also represent, in order to find the formula for treating people with dignity and respect.    "Love the sinner, hate the sin." Who came up with that one anyway?   To tell a person that you love them and hate their homosexuality, you are telling them that you hate their nature, that you hate their desire for partnership, and there is nothing edifying about that.  

Again, my brothers and sisters, love your church, but make sure you find your safe place to worship as well, where you can be yourself, and it will make all the difference in the world.

I have been very busy this past week, so this entry is rather brief, so please forgive me.   More to come, as there is so much to say.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Is God Against Heterosexuality?

Heterosexuals from a popular tv show

Heterosexuality: the issue of our generation.   Children are exposed to it at an early age, teenagers experiment with it when they should be studying for finals, and more and more adults every year engage in heterosexual activities.   Yes, it has existed since the dawn of time,  but is heterosexuality really in God's plan for humanity?   People often ask me, "is heterosexuality a sin?" My only answer is: let's take a look at two things:  We must take a look at what the Bible says about it, and then, we can take a look at the heterosexual lifestyle and see if we can find our answers there.

When it comes down to heterosexuality in the Bible, we have a clear problem: the idea of sexual orientation did not exist when the Bible was written, so the word "heterosexual" was not one that was ever used.  It is in the same way you would not find any discussion on subatomic reactions in the book of Genesis' account of the creation of the world.  However, if we look at the definition, we should be able to apply it to words that already exist in the Bible, in order to arrive at the most accurate interpretation by today's standards.
Definition of HETEROSEXUAL
a : of, relating to, or characterized by a tendency to direct sexual desire toward the opposite sex
b : of, relating to, or involving sexual intercourse between individuals of opposite sex
A sex act between a man and a woman is a heterosexual act.  That much is clear by the definition offered by the internet.  By this definition it would be fair and obvious to replace certain words in the Bible with the word heterosexual or heterosexuality in order to have a better understanding of what the Bible is really trying to say to today's people, using today's modern vernacular.  

Let's take a look at one of the earliest examples of heterosexuality in the Bible:
Genesis 19:30-38

Lot and his two daughters left Zoar and settled in the mountains, for he was afraid to stay in Zoar. He and his two daughters lived in a cave. One day the older daughter said to the younger, "Our father is old, and there is no man around here to lie with us, as is the custom all over the earth. Let's get our father to drink wine and then lie with him and preserve our family line through our father." That night they got their father to drink wine, and the older daughter went in and lay with him. He was not aware of it when she lay down or when she got up. The next day the older daughter said to the younger, "Last night I lay with my father. Let's get him to drink wine again tonight, and you go in and lie with him so we can preserve our family line through our father." So they got their father to drink wine that night also, and the younger daughter went and lay with him. Again he was not aware of it when she lay down or when she got up. So both of Lot's daughters became pregnant by their father. The older daughter had a son, and she named him Moab; he is the father of the Moabites of today. The younger daughter also had a son, and she named him Ben-Ammi; he is the father of the Ammonites of today. (NIV)
Heterosexuality is the motivation behind Lot's daughters plot to essentially rape their own father.   Since there was no man to have sex with them in the wilderness, their only option was to get their father intoxicated, and have their way with him, heterosexually.   While the word itself is not used in this passage, it is clear that a sex act has occurred between a man and a woman.

Let us move on to see a few verses where heterosexuality is specifically mentioned in the Bible.  These are verses that are clearly commands by God for His people, and are not to be taken lightly.   For the sake of accuracy and clarification, we will replace the more specific words as translated from the Greek, with a more all-encompassing term like 'heterosexuality'

Leviticus 21:9  If a priest's daughter defiles herself by becoming a heterosexual, she disgraces her father; she must be burned in the fire. 
Exodus 20:14, "You shall not commit heterosexuality."

Hebrews 13:4, "Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled; for heterosexuals and adulterers God will judge."

Judges 16:6, So Delilah said to Samson, "Please tell me where your great strength is and how you may be bound to afflict you. [with heterosexuality]"

Proverbs 6:32, The one who commits heterosexuality is lacking sense; he who would destroy himself does it.

Galatians 5:19-21  Now the works of the flesh are evident: heterosexuality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

1 Corinthians 7:8-9  To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am.

Matthew 5:28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.   (Notice that he mentions any woman: ANY woman.  Even your wife, and mine)

1 Corinthians 6:13  “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”—and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for heterosexuality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.

Ezekiel 23:20 There she lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of horses.
This is just a small subset of hundreds, maybe thousands of verses where heterosexuality is mentioned in the Bible.    However we must understand that there are few cases, under very specific and certain circumstances, where God does actually approve of a heterosexual union. We must understand, however that all of these involve the making of a baby. But not just any baby: certain babies.   God specifically asks certain people to make babies for a certain reason.  It is in these cases only where such unions are permitted.   There are other babies made in the Bible and God isn't a fan of some of the other babies, like Esau, Ishmael, and Ham, and he deals with them accordingly.    You must ask yourself, have you been given a green light by God to make a baby?   Have you had any visions or dreams?   Are you called to populate a nation?  If not, I would think again before removing those boxers.

Rather than exhaust you with countless verses on the subject, for those who are skeptical about the use of the Bible to dictate morality in our modern world, I sympathize.  But can I appeal to your rational minds with clear evidence from the culture around us?

Below are a few images, which I think speak for themselves in regards to the heterosexual lifestyle.  Clearly there is something very wrong with a world where this sort of behavior is acceptable and even deemed normal:

Heterosexual marriage at its finest

This is in public.    PUBLIC!


This could be your son or daughter on heterosexuality

I am sorry if these images have offended anyone.  They were not meant to do so, but they are posted in order to paint a clear picture of what the liberal media is trying to hide from you.  The media is a powerful machine, making countless films about love stories, and romance, and commitment, but it is all part of an agenda to trap your families into accepting deviant behavior that exists in real life.  Now there are those who say that heterosexuality is not just about sex.  But the evidence shows otherwise.  The word 'sex' is in the word heterosexual after all.  

How should we deal with heterosexuals?  Basically we must love the sinner and hate the sin.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Open Call For Submissions

This could be you.


It's a little too early for writer's block, but it is one of those weeks, I guess.   But it occurred to me, why should I bear the burden of the gay Coptic world all alone? :)   I know many of you have a story of your own, thoughts, or an experience you may like to share.   Reach out to the email address on the right and we can work something out!   It would be great to have a place where the LGBT Coptic or the LGBT Orthodox, Catholic or Protestant experience can be displayed and shared.  Our stories are just as valid, and who would've thought that we have a voice where we didn't have one before.  God bless Al Gore and his inter-webbbbbz.