Not too Far From the Community Tree

I shared the following on Facebook as a response to the Umpqua Community College shooting because I noticed a trend of calling Americans to forget the shooter and remember the victims. While I understand the sentiment, no sooner did I realize that it doesn’t make sense. Why should I do such a thing?  I don’t want to feel better now.  I want to get at the bottom of why and how the shooter became who he was, so that the terrible state that brought him to shoot innocent people can be prevented. We should focus on preventing shooters.  And I absolutely couldn’t care less about the guns and gun control, when rehabilitating broken people is the proper response. Shooters don’t fall too far from the community tree.

Acknowledging that people suffer the consequences of their choices…

Being a community and coming together after a tragedy is good.

But, what about before a fatal tragedy?

Perpetrators committing premeditated mass killings or murder do not go zero to rage in an instant. Further, killers are possible where right relationship has been broken by whomever, wherever, and however amongst a community.

In other words, the confluence of time, people and the perpetrators choices produced him. The killer is not an aberration.

These rash of shootings are symptomatic of broken community at large. The tragedy happened long before a single shot. And so no tragedy of will is an isolated incident.

Think about it.

Whom have you loved today?

“He said to them, “Go!” So they came out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and died in the water. Those tending the pigs ran off, went into the town and reported all this, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men. Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region.”
Matthew 8:32-34 NIV


“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”‭‭ -Philippians‬ ‭4:11-13‬ ‭NIV‬‬

David’s Passion

It has taken over two years to have the courage to share this on my blog.  This subject is not new.  It definitely isn’t so unique.  Yet, I am one of a subset of distinct Christians who have yet to reveal themselves.  You might ask what is this about?  Or, what does this mean? I ask that you stick this out to the end.  What I am about to share means a lot more than I would ever allow someone else to define on my behalf.  And it’s taken years to get my thoughts together so far.  This post will, and has already evolved with time since having published it.  Please consider revisiting. Wrapped up in this body, this mind, this heart, is a lot of secret pain from wrestling my struggle to the ground between myself and the world, God, and evil itself for roughly 27 years. I am David.  I am a Christian. I am gay. I have lived with this secret for close to three decades. Depending upon who you are, it may come as a shock or it may not.  Either way, please keep reading.

At the age of 33, I have reached some definitive conclusions about who I am, my sexual identity, my faith and salvation, gay culture, and the politics surrounding all of it.  The greatest conclusion, or resolve I have made is to separate myself to a certain extent (and to be more defined in another chapter of this story) from the gay community and the Christian community so that I might have better clarity on the matter of my sexuality.  I long to understand it in terms of how I think, what I believe, how I act, and how I see myself, as far as love and acceptance is concerned.  Also, by separate I mean it in terms of my developing beliefs about my sexual orientation.  Mind you, I say all of this without having rejected a whole swath of people respectively among both communities.  It’s just that I have found that my thoughts, beliefs and convictions are not united with one over the other. Why?

Both are not as separate as we have been made to believe. They overlap, I surmise, by a large margin.  I am one among many Christians who are or have secretly managed to float in and out of church for years while hiding loneliness and fear of rejection because we are physically and intimately attracted to the same gender.  And know that stating as such is in no way commensurate with how deep the fear and rejection feels for me and others in reality. Being gay is not a choice, contrary to misguided belief. It makes fellowship with other Christians a whole other experience in itself, that otherwise, should be a comfort and not terrifying.  Holding such a secret out of fear can drive a person to hurtful and destructive patterns.  In my case, it has been subtly keeping people at a distance through shallow interpersonal commitments in order to avoid being found out, and to prevent recurring hurt from my past attempts at being vulnerable with good Christian people.  It is the making for having a transient church-life that is alienating as much as it can be depressing, to say the very least.

I no longer isolate from fellowship, as I have matured.  I have a healthy church life of fellowship with people I truly cherish, even though habits do die hard.  I am not immediately open about my sexuality.  And to be frank that isn’t exactly a casual topic one just drops on people–not even at a well-knit small group bible study of good friends in Christ.  At any rate, what goodness I enjoy is plenty though hard won.  Choosing to stay and to face the risk has felt like dying, or even losing control.  But now it feels good to serve and to be part of the worship team, as a matter of fact, at my current place of worship in the middle east on active duty. Quite to the contrary, having fellowship empowers one to have control, as it is a mark of maturity because of the security one has developed to allow people into your life and heart–even to tolerate people making amuck with you heart.

My last two relationships are epochs that taught me the most, not just about vulnerability, but also love, failure, commitment, strength, desperation, and forgiveness.  In the beginning of August 2015, I ended a roughly two-year relationship with a good and powerful woman I was poised to marry, named Dana.  She taught me so much about trust and embracing insecurity.  I met her at a co-ed bible study on Christian dating (which was an unexpected study subject), basically on the heels of a tragic and devastating breakup with my ex-boyfriend, Adrian, whom I dated for four months in 2011. He is a brilliant teacher and scientist to this day. Like with Dana, there was much talk of marriage to him.  Both are separate stories I will share in good time.

Looking back, I must confess that I have some faint pain about both relationships.  And I must also admit that I feel emotionally scattered because I don’t know how to begin to pick up the pieces as I move forward in life, or if I should attempt to at all. Although, I trust God will continue to instruct and guide me. Forgetting seems easier than dealing with how I have felt in the aftermath of my recent separation.  But I’d rather remember and learn because it is actually the easier and best choice.  I additionally think it will bring clarity to another issue.

In another sense there are no answers that have wholly satisfied in the way of making emotional sense of my sexuality with respect to why I have it, and what is God’s intent for allowing it. This was not clear for me in my last relationship, as it has never has been my whole life!  So I decided to stop pushing so hard at the question, and thus ended my relationship with Dana. Lastly, for many years I had struggled immensely to believe that God loved me up until two years ago. (I’ll come back to this last statement later in this post.)

I do not believe that there is a comprehensive answer on this side of eternity as to why I am gay, nor to fully know or understand God’s intentions for allowing this in my life apart from a testimony.  To this Christian heart, my sexual orientation is among the greater mysteries that bears no earthly understanding thus far, empirically speaking.

So as I have already stated, homosexuality is an unchosen aspect of me.  And I am okay.  I accept all of me, and it’s the best place to be in order to move forward in any positive direction.  There are Christians who would beg to disagree and are sadly difficult to bring to sound reason on the subject.  And pardon how acerbic this may sound, but the gall of one to tell me better than I know myself about my experience is unwise.  I believe that one can, however, either choose to engage in a same gender relationship, or remain single and celibate.  In this respect, choosing is always possible.  But as far as attraction goes, I am most definitely attracted to the same gender with no interest in women beyond friendship.  I have accepted my sexuality and have chosen singleness and celibacy so that I may perfect the pursuit of Jesus Christ and help people.  These are the facts.

Why have I made this choice?  Because I want more from Jesus as far as relationships go.  I don’t have to live my life as a perpetual victim pining over myself. But, there has been many times where shared my choice, and would get thinly veiled advice served up with a side of diet patronizing, from gay non-Christian and non-gay Christian acquaintances alike, but for very opposing reasons.  The former would say that I am hurting myself.  “Poor you. You don’t know how much a gay relationship is good for you.”  Whereas the latter would question if I’m sure and opposingly say in effect, “Poor you.  You don’t know how much a straight marriage is good for you.”  The knot in my stomach and the pain in my chest from the tightness would well up so bad in these moments.  To both, the temptation has been to dismiss them by rolling my eyes, getting up and walking off without a word of explanation because their words are so misguided.  But God has corrected my attitude over time. I have come to realize that this whole experience of sharing my story is to educate those who just do not get it. There is no quick and dirty solution, whether it be a formula, a saying, or to prayer it away, getting a gay partner, getting a straight partner, drinking an elixir, being promiscuous, entering monasticism, flagellation, self-exile, or what have you.  I am purposefully being absurd, if not also sardonic, to evoke the emotion for whomever reads this, to illustrate how I feel when patronizing statements are made, however well-intentioned and unwitting.

My toughest judgements, however, are aimed at the church.

Homosexuality is an internal soulish matter!  It is somewhere in the core of our humanness, between the spirit and the body, given that it is all about relationship.  Think about that!  How does one get at the center of oneself and simply understand it all?  And so relationship has everything to do with what it means to be human or a spirit having a physical experience in an imperfect world.  Therefore we can at least deduce that a relationship of some kind is part of what makes us whole.  So I believe that this matter is only understood by non-gay people in the form of a story, a confession, a tableau of self-expression from every gay man, woman and young adults laid out to be accepted because it isn’t understandable by mere appearances and circumstances.  It’s a judgement of a person’s heart followed with some important observant questions.

What and why is this specific gay man or women in this state? What is he feeling?  What is she feeling?  What is the bigger picture here?  What is he/she seeking?  It is inside somewhere where fulfillment is desired.  No one goes after anything because they have no need of something.  Think!  It is a matter that requires love, relationship and community under the guiding hand of God.  Hence it is not a wonder that gay men and woman have been shouting their needs at the body of Christ for decades in a language that merely needed translating.  Christians should have been discerning enough to see not with the eye, but through the eye.  Accept us.  Love us.  Be with us.  Touch us. Commune with us.  No matter who one is, this is what the heart, the soul and the body demand at once.  The fulfillment that gay men and women were meant to enjoy is shut in between what the bible says and stops short before having intimacy and connection in all ways; affirmation, relationship, commitment, consummation, joy, family and legacy.  And get this and get it well:  It is perfectly valid to want these things! Non-gay Christians should put themselves in the mind of a homosexual in this world and think logically.  What are the options for gay people, with respect to God’s word?  Think about that! The overall feeling is, this is unfair and underscores the equality and gay rights movement. Brothers and sisters, have you not grasped this?

Non-gay Christians should attempt to put themselves in heart of a homosexual to feel this disparity. And then non-gay Christians should put themselves in the world of a homosexual to feel the hatred thrown at them.  Most specifically the lives of gay Christians are cut off.  We have far less relational real estate, and for which we have to compensate with community, family members and friends.  But make no mistake that not all of us get to have romance, commitment and marriage with same-sex attraction and same-sex intimate desires. In short, it is so easy for a person to stand on a pedestal of, real or imagined, privilege and advantage, while looking down one’s nose at other human beings and trivialize their lives, struggles, hurts, desires, hopes and fears in idle passivity and vapid “I’ll pray for you’s” as if paying indulgences to a priest.  I grant that there are some, but statistically few, gay Christians who can and have found satisfaction in a God-first marriage to the opposite gender.  But by and large the majority of us simply cannot and are unable to find and have romantic companionship and physical satisfaction with the opposite gender because it jives no more than it would to a “straight” person who attempts to much less imagine such a partnering with the same gender, just to drive my point home.

No.  It was never a choice. Yet this is what every gay Christian faces every single day–which can very much mimic cognitive dissonance. When in actuality we are fiercely wrestling, or worse, warring within in the part of our beings where humanness is most fragile, while yet a most powerful appetite intended to thrive exclusively on the spirit of God.

What does this illustrate for you?  And what is it that Jesus did when he looked down upon humanity from heaven in his pre-incarnate time.  He said let me come down and embrace them, love them, be with them, touch them, commune with them, and I will heal them and save them.  Fulfillment demands presence, and the human body and spirit demands its author.  But if Christians choose to become an obstruction to social justice, then people will seek what they need for fulfillment elsewhere.  For all intents and purposes, can one blame the gay community for turning a deaf ear to the very people who should have gotten this right centuries ago?  Even worse and of all times in history, given our knowledge and ingenuity, it should be a wrong made right today were every Christian to stop and say, “I know nothing of this and I should listen more.”  How many more decades must the world endure Christians’ long since beleaguered campaign of tired “he said it, so I believe it” angry sermons and hellfire tactics to battle the gays?  Instead say, “Let me actually be silent listen to the gay community” with no agenda, and no plan to drag them kicking and screaming to the cross while sacrificing the love of Christ at the altar of legalism and abject shaming and judgement.  “Let me put away false pity and engineered empathy. Let me get to know this person just as she is.” “What are our common personal interests?  Perhaps we can connect where we do agree.  Surely there are more positives between us than the one negative with which I’ve become so wrongly intoxicated.”  Gay people are humans who deserve dignity and respect just like everyone else.

The body of Christ is the literal living, breathing, and beating-heart-representative of God’s passion.  We are his hands, his feet, his mind, his words, his blood, his life, his death, his resurrection, his everything, so as to continue the work of love (which includes justice) modeled for us in his earthly ministry.  How has the church failed to see the answer prophesied by the very ones they have ostracized?  But instead history has shown wretched acts of weaponized bible verses, backdoor-loaded agenda-driven sermons, new rules of treatment for gay people versus every other sinner, ignoring that gay youth exist, engaging in political manipulation, political isolation, public shaming and passivity.

I could go easy by only saying I forgive all these things, to then move on with the rest of my thoughts that are far less stinging.  And I do forgive because I love Jesus, and I humbly extend the same love he has given to me because I know how.  But no, I will not go easy because there is one more nail for this cross. What of those in the gay community who do not know Jesus, and thereby do not know how to forgive?  True transcendent forgiveness comes from only one place, and that is Jesus Christ.  If they do not know him, and if they do not love him, they will not act like him in return.  Therefore, how much of a funk, a stench, a stumbling block, an impediment, and repugnant dungheap has Christianity manifested in the lives of non-Christian gay men and woman, to include other non-believers in this world?  I think the worst form of lovelessness towards gay people is the idle murmuring, whispers, passive judgement, and silent dismissiveness by the silent majority of alleged Christians throughout this decades long debate over gay marriage and gay rights.  Clearly this puts the laity in the spotlight.  We know the evil of those who say nothing and do nothing.  It is sick to hide behind a boisterous pastor, clap in church and second it with an amen and lack empathy. Or in short, it’s intolerable  not talking about homosexuality or dealing with it in real loving ways the same as the church does so well for the poor.  To me this is worse than picketing with signs graffitied in hate-speech.  What has all of this become to the ears and hearts of those the church has inflicted such fear, rejection, and shame? If this were not true, gay people would have flocked to churches at every turn quite some time ago.  I speak with the fervent heat and anger as I have heard it from my non-Christian gay friends.  And I too have faced down the same afflictions.  But I am thinking uniquely of gay men to which I have spoken, and for whatever reason, have trusted me to be vulnerable enough to say how they feel.  On my ten fingers, I have met gay men and women who named one or more Christians that said or did something that rocked their world and sealed their hearts to seek love elsewhere by a different means; Buddhism, Bahai, Islam, New Age spirituality, humanism, Judaism, Jainism, and others.  Their choices are understandable.  There is much to be desired from Christians in this century, to include making amends for the sins of the past and the present through genuine empathy and brotherhood.  No politics and religiosity.  How about putting on love?

Changing directions, I understand that homosexuality is not seen as a struggle for homosexuals who give no credence to Christian thought and belief.  It makes total sense.  But I utilize the term “struggle” in this story because, again, it is a daily toil and wrestle, upward, to keep my soul centered on God and what he wants for me and my life. It also the crucible of every believer to take up whatever cross they’ve been given. Moreover my life is the complete opposite of practicing homosexuals, that is best explained in the context of my experiences.  Of all these years of sifting through a cosmos of confusion, it is my intention to share these details with whomever decides to learn my story.

Why am I doing this here?  Others have done this.  I am not the first.  So clearly my goal is not to be the last, nor to hide what I know, shielding myself from fear of judgement and rejection, while other Christians like myself, secretly suffer and never experience common ground, so that they are not alone.  I have chosen this medium for sharing because it is intimate, although public, where I can be real and raw.  As for myself, the realization of healing really warrants me opening up to everyone, despite how seemingly counterintuitive. It is beyond me as to why this story is important.  I simply have always sensed a strong unction to do this.

Here is what I know.  I believe in God’s unfailing love for me.  It is the one breakthrough to which I cling in relentless desperation. The cross of Jesus Christ makes complete sense, as it pacifies my fears of rejection and failure, the dark moments and the overwhelming loneliness. I feel most assured by the testament of Jesus’s life and ministry.  I hope in his life and resurrection, because if it is true, then I can survive in this world until all things are made new again.  Then on that day all my fears and all my struggles will be wiped away.  No questions, mysteries or darkness will linger over me to crowd out my love in endless cycling heartache.

It is now a matter of perspective, defined and quantified by an imminent eternal hope.  It is a secure hope in the one who gave his life to save us all. This is why this blog exists.  Also it is why Jesus is so much the focus of my past writings.  Re-read my past posts and they will come to life in ways you couldn’t have seen prior, now that you know the drive and the source of my passion.  I will share more when I feel ready.

To close this first part in what I believe is a long journey of writing, I would love to tell my 7-year old self these words.

“God does not hate you David. Trust this saying and believe it.  Obey him and you will overcome this confusion you feel.  You are very unique and God does not reject you although the world rejects you. Jesus knew you before you were born.  You’re fearfully and wonderfully made. He has never rejected you, and he will never reject you.  Forgive your enemies and live. You are David, a mighty warrior, fearless and strong.  In your small frame you are braver than you realize.  Stand strong.  Be strong and courageous because the Lord your God has prepared a path for you to follow through all your days on earth.  Listen to his strong voice, to which he has given you the gift to hear and understand so well, and at such an early age.  He will guide you.  Listen to him.”