Wednesday, July 1, 2015

An Open Letter to the Coptic Community

I wrote this letter years ago to one of our esteemed Bishops.  I never got a reply.   Seeing the reaction of many in the Coptic Community in response to Friday's legislation on same-sex marriages, I see the importance of sending this same letter to the whole community, or anyone who will listen.  I made a few edits, but everything here still is true, even years later.

Dear fellow Copts,

I am disappointed that a community of people of our wealth, wisdom, and history, one that I respect greatly, have settled for fear-mongering and fact twisting in order to shape public opinion on a very human, sensitive, and controversial topic.    I cannot say I blame you completely because maybe your sources lead you in the wrong direction.
  As a man who has struggled his whole life to find answers to why he was so different, and has found a place of peace in regards to his faith and his relationship to God, I can honestly say that I am completely misrepresented in your content, posts, and conversations and I don't think I would be out of line if I said that I do not just speak for myself.
  I am afraid for the people in your congregations who are gay, who will read posts like these and think "this is how the church sees me, this is how my family will see me."  There are few options if they believe these things:  1) to hide and repress, only to express their God given desires in very unhealthy ways.   2) to cut off completely, becoming vulnerable to true evils, and to very unhealthy behavior.
  How many people have left the church, not because their homosexuality has made them lose interest in faith and in God, on the contrary, it is their church who has lost hope in them.  It is their church who has told them there is no place for them within her walls.   The result of such disconnection is far worse than you can imagine.   Some like me have been lucky to have maintained close ties, especially to faith, while others have felt they needed to walk away completely for safely.   While for others there have been some great casualties, and preventable disease and anguish, if understanding was sought, and love and compassion were given.
   To the average gay or lesbian, it is clear that sexual orientation is not a choice, nor is it something that can be changed, that it is as natural and as it can be.  While it may not be the majority of what humans feel in regards to sexuality, as one myself, I can assure you that I did not choose this, nor has embracing it taken me further from God or from what is true, on the contrary, my life has improved for the better, and I only have God to thank, and I truly feel lucky that I was not one of the many causalities of being both Coptic and gay.
  My friends, I urge you to reach out to gay people and ask them questions about their lives, build relationship and have dialogue, I assure you that what you will find in the process may surprise you.   Gay people are not an agenda, in fact most of us just want one thing: to be safe to find love and companionship in this world, that is all.   We don't want to brainwash people, we don't hate heterosexuals, we don't even want to rape children.   Many of us feel afraid, and many of us suffer both emotional and physical harm, not just in the USA but throughout the world, and it is for this that people are fighting for equality, so that such atrocities cannot occur.  Injustice is something that we are taught to fight against as Christians, so why is the church only adding to this injustice?
Yes, the gay community does have a lot of pain and and carries many scars due to the decades of having to build a culture without role-models or approval, completely in the shadows, and we often have become reactionary to the world around us, but the time of reaction is over, and the time to build and self-accept is now.  The imperfections of the gay community is also a result of being human, there are imperfections in the church, and it is also easy for the gay community to de-personalize Christians and talk about "the church" and withhold compassion because of fear.   Do you not see the parallels?  Instead of dealing with our mistakes with more misunderstanding, why can't we start having compassion for each other?
  I am just a man, son of heterosexual parents, friend to several, brother to many, who is seeking truth for my life, and justice for those who are suffering at the hands of men; those who are suffering not for the sake of truth or justice, but who are needlessly suffering vain.

I also want to say:

Dear LGBT Coptic Brothers and Sisters,

  One man's voice, and often many people's voices are not the truth of how God feels about you and where you belong in this world.   Above all things you are loved and accepted.   Do not allow the imperfect voices to tell you who you are.   This verse is for you:
"Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven" Matthew 5:11-12
My hope is that truth can find you, and love can embrace you.