Sunday, June 28, 2015

48 Hours of Gay Marriage


Of course it would take something like the United States legalizing same sex marriage to get me out of hibernation and posting again.  It's the perfect climate to make a statement, right?   But unlike  many brands that have adorned rainbow colors to sell more toilet paper and magazine subscriptions, I have nothing to sell, except good old-fashioned conversation!   I wanna write to the LGBT community, and I wanna write to the Christians, especially the Copts.

Let me start out by saying, I am absolutely thrilled that we've arrived at this moment in American History.   It really is a no-brainer that the government honor and respect the commitments made by two adults, regardless of their gender.   I even feel silly getting into arguments about it.   We live in a country where its Constitution demands that all citizens get equal protection under the law, and while we can clearly see that this is often times not the case (and I bow my head in the shadow of the slain children of America like Oscar Grant and countless others), every time we make a step towards that standard, I will celebrate.  But we should not be done striving until we are much, much farther along,  am I right?

Yesterday however, was a moment I've imagined so many times in my heart of hearts, and I imagined it being a day where I could feel at ease, because I would be living in a society that had become more just than the day before.  The problem is, I was not the experiencing this ease or relief whatsoever.  Yesterday was one of the most isolating experiences I've had in a very long time, and it caught me completely by surprise.   The American population was ablaze in dialogue, the kind of dialogue where someone is made to be an enemy.  The cries of victory became muffled along side an ocean of content: written by people talking about things that they have absolutely no intimate knowledge of, and about people they have no relationship with, and doing so with absolute certainty.

Christians pontificating about gays.   Gays pontificating about Christians.   And for those of us who do not fit into the battle-zones clearly mapped out in front of us by the media, some clergy, and the very zealously conservative church servant,  their world quickly became unwelcoming and polarizing.  And the safe place of a fair and equal society no longer feels very safe at all.   And the church that promises to love the broken and heal the wounded, suddenly again, feels like a harsh and hostile place.   We say that Love Won, on Friday, but the world around me was utterly divided.

My Christian and Coptic brothers and sisters:  I understand that the law has now sided with something you do not understand nor agree with.  I know you feel that your morals are under attack, that your children are at risk, and I know that it feels like the whole world around you is celebrating something that might offend some of you.  And it's not just about understanding, but it's about celebrating something contrary to your teaching and dogma.  You are hearing the words in the back of your mind, that the world will be against you for standing for your truth, and you feel you are seeing the prophesies come true, about a pre-apocalyptic world, where materialism and sex are elevated and celebrated over humility and truth. This experience for you must be 100% terrifying, You also feel that you're being under attack for simply having these views and feelings.

Many of you, in your heart of hearts, are trying to speak your truth in love, and many feel that they're being misunderstood, unfairly judged, and publicly mocked.  Many of you moved to the United States, because you know the experience of religious inequality in Egypt, and you came to build a better life for you and your families.   Many of you fear that the church will be under attack in the wake of this new legislation.

I just want to remind you of something, my dear brothers and sisters, remember  that we live in a country where the laws and the Church are often not on the same page, nor should they be.  Shall we make heavy drinking illegal?  What about  divorce?  Do we really want the Christian version of Sharia Law?  What about other religions: and the worshipping of other gods, it's a huge no-no, no?  So, where's the outrage around freedom of religion?   The laws of this country are meant to protect all of its citizens.  Extending marriage benefits to same-sex couples is just part of that protection.

However, some of you are have reverted to more extreme versions of sensationalism.   And I  want to kindly ask you, in the most loving way possible, to just get a grip.  I mean, really, take a deep breath, and please chill out.

If the government starts to tell the church that it has to perform same sex weddings, and do things that are clearly outside of its belief system, I'll be protesting this along side with you, along with many other gay people, who understand the importance of protecting religious freedom, even when we don't agree.  But that's not what's happening here.  Let's distribute the chill-pills.

 But let me remind you of something very important:

These are the voices that the gay community hears when Christians start to pontificate.  Think about what our goal is when we start posting and engaging in these conversations.  If our goal is to merely have a voice and be heard, then I would think volume would be the only tool we need.  Let's be sensational, and controversial, and yell our opinions from the mountaintops then!  But maybe just being heard shouldn't be a goal in and of itself.

If our goal is to represent Christ, speak-love, and to do as Jesus asked, remember our voices are falling on ears that are interpreting them in entirely different ways.   They are hearing the cumulative history of hostile and violent voices, that get amplified, while the voice of Christ gets muffled.  The supposed moral outrage that Copts have expressed is problematic.  Many Copts even retweeted Bryan Fischer's despicable comparison, putting 6/26 alongside 9/11.   Where is the moral outrage, and where is the public outcry, when Westboro Baptist Church declares to the LGBT community that God hates them?  Where is the communal outrage that we should feel because we live in such an affluent society while millions around the world are hungry?

But many of us, are going to an extreme, and spreading sensational news and images.   I saw many posting what I would consider offensive religions homoerotica, and say that "this is the gay community", "this is what they're really like".   News flash: this does not represent me, nor does it represent many others, any more than Girls Gone Wild represents heterosexuality.   Why are you painting a false picture of me and others like me, who are gay and lesbian, sometimes struggling even to follow Christ in the most impossible of circumstances, why must you speak for us, and paint a picture of who we are, when you know nothing of our hearts and intentions?  When you don't know the battles we've fought.  When you don't know the family we've lost.  When you don't know the isolation we feel.  When we are supposedly one Body with you.  Why must you ostracize us?

The voice of Christ is ever loving and ever compassionate.   The voice of Christ is one that only knows how to reflect back a person's dignity, honor, and best self.   My Facebook feed was flooded with requests to love the sin and hate the sinner (yuck)   And quite a few requests to just hate the sinner (yawn)  But just remember this: LGBT people are in our churches and in our families.  It's true, we exist closer than we might think.  Remember this before you speak.

If you want to read what I believe is a fair and balanced response, from a Christian perspective, read this article.   I believe it puts this issue in its place. Open your mind and heart, and consider, that unless you're willing to open up your heart to your neighbor, you may be part of the problem, and the moral decline of society that you are so concerned about.

And the fears mentioned above.  I share them with you.  Materialism and sex are idolized in our society.  We see it everywhere in society, regardless of being gay or straight.   But at the same time there are gay men and women are also struggling like our heterosexual counterparts, to live holy and righteous lives. To live with meaning amongst the materialism and commercialism.  To live pure in the midst of our hyper-sexualized world.  Please don't make gays the scapegoat.

But I promise you, my dear Christian brothers and sisters, the burden to heal the world is not entirely on your shoulders.   We need to work together in order to build bridges and dialogue, and help heal the huge divides that we experienced as a society in the last 48 hours.


Love Wins: but where is the love?    

My LGBT brothers and sisters.   You've been rejected, and  you've lived in fear.   You've heard the sounds of hate from those who otherwise attempt to preach love.   You've been told that you are more broken and more lost than the average person.   You have been told that your sin is not pardonable.   You have been pushed away by those who claim to hold the Graces of God above.  You've had the keys of Life taken out of your hands, only to be locked out alone in the cold.

I've walked this with you.   I have lived each of these experiences. I know what it's like to be betrayed and shunned by those you served and gave your heart and life for.  I know the pain, of being told you don't belong.   I know the pain of seeing your loved ones heartbroken and confused, because what makes you happy, and what could bring you joy, brings them sheer distress.   I know and have been through all of it.

At the same time, we're carrying a banner of love, and that is no small thing.  If we choose to carry this banner, we must realize, that love does not stop with our romantic partners.  Love does not end with those who support us and who agree with our life choices.  No, love is not only when it's convenient, and love is not only when it feels good.  Love is a force that is greater than you or I, and it is what brought us all into being.   So if we say "Love Wins", then we must walk the walk.   I've seen the posts on social media.   I've seen the countless articles ridiculing the religious, and those who don't understand what we're about.  I've seen pieces of content, and tweets, that leave me confused, wondering why so much energy that should be spent in celebrating this victory, is given to mocking the followers of Jesus, when so many are on our side, and even those who don't understand, or don't agree with our life choices, aren't bad people. There is a whole world outside of us.  Why are we trying to undermine its existence?

Some of us have this notion about Christians that are just as extreme and untrue, as the notions that some Christians have about gay people.   It's all the same sensational, click-bait, that keeps dividing.

I just ask, that we don't fall into the same trap, that we don't impart the same judgement, ridiculing, and ostracizing.   I ask that we consider extending that love.  For looking deep within for the strength to love when its inconvenient.   That maybe through reaching across the divide, we may learn about others, and that they may learn about us.  That we may actually be better together, even if we're not on the same page today.   Remember, that an eye for an eye, will leave the whole world blind.   And these days, we all need our eyes, in proper working order, more than ever.  If we are going to be bold enough to carry the banner that "Love Wins", then we must carry all that comes with love.  And it is painful, and seemingly impossible, but it is the only way.

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8


This is what my faith teaches me, and it brings healing, and forward motion, and dialogue, and complete and utter freedom.  To love our enemies is really difficult.  To love those who curse us, seems futile and weak.   But if love actually wins, and I believe it does, then I want to be on the side of victory.