Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Playing Monopoly With God


An old joke goes like this:

A man died and went to heaven, where he was promptly greeted by St. Peter at the pearly gates.   St. Peter welcomed him and took him on the grand tour.  They arrived at a room full of people in silent meditation, when Peter explained "Here are where the Buddhists go."    They walked down a few more doors and he said, "And here, we find the Catholics", and everyone inside waved at the new arrival.   A few more doors down the recently deceased heard clapping and singing, and St. Peter explained, "here are the Pentecostals", and then finally they arrived at a room with a closed door.  Peter explained, "Well, you see here is where the Copts go, when they go to heaven, but be very quiet, they think they're the only ones here."
The same could be said about almost any religious group with a strict following and self-important dogma.  But this becomes relevant today for one reason, and it's a question that I have not been asked in a very long time, but it's the question of: "How can you call yourself a Christian and be gay?"   At this point in my life, it's very simple actually: I'm gay.  I'm a Christian.   And that's all there is to it.   But I can see why this idea may be foreign to some, and easier for others.   It really depends in the church environment you grew up in.

I for one, grew up in an environment that taught us, that there was only one correct faith.   From basic dogma, to the resolution of councils, to the explanation of great mysteries (like the nature of Christ, for example), to the proper liturgy, to the kinds of worship, to the modes of dress, to the food you eat, to the things you think, to the people you associate with, to the TV shows you watch, to the music you listen to, to the amount of time you are allowed to shave after receiving communion, I could go on.   It's apparent that we are pretty damn special.   So the idea that I was gay, was one that sent chills of fear up my spine.  We weren't talking about eating a burger on good friday, we were talking about some Soddom and Gomorrah type wrath and destruction!   You know the kind where fire falls from the sky, your aunt Jessie turns to salt, and you miss the last episode of Friends because a meteor just hit your TV: and your dog.

Many years later, I can go to bed at night, knowing that I have an ally upstairs.  I have a Savior in my heart.   It took a bit of work though.  Previous posts can tell you about this process I went through:

The Great Misconception

Of Sheep And Men

So now there is a small movement of people crying out and saying that a gay person CANNOT label themselves as a Christian.  I think I've posted enough about this topic, but I did have a few questions:

If I choose to call on Jesus in an hour of need:  What does it matter to you?
If I choose to pray every night for my loved ones and the world around me:  What does it matter to you?
If I choose to go to Church and seek spiritual and personal growth and worship and praise within a community: What does it matter to you?
If I choose to serve others: What does it matter to you?
If I believe that I am loved by God, unconditionally, in the John 3:16 fashion: What does it matter to you?

Faith is a personal thing.  I would not tell anyone what to believe or not.  There is a great story of seven blind men and an elephant which explains why I deeply respect all faiths.  But if you are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, and someone is telling you, that you need to abandon things that you believe in your heart to be true, just because you are who you are, I will say to stand up, and shake off the dust, and not believe these lies.   You are more precious than you could ever imagine yourself to be.  And you are deeply and utterly loved.

No, the moment there is a monopoly on who can approach God, we already have a problem, and we find ourselves facing a road, or an opinion, that is just not worth exploring.   If you don't believe me, you can ask some of my friends:    Zacchaeus, The Centurion, The Woman at the Well, and the Good Samaritan.   You can even ask King David, I'm sure he'd say a few things on the matter.   Monopoly is for insecure children, and greedy adults, even when it comes to religion.

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