April 5, 2017

The Epidemic of Gay Loneliness

Often times, I can't help myself. My brain works in such a way that I always find myself asking questions and being skeptical. In some ways, this is really good, but in others it sometimes comes as a curse. I often find myself as the odd man out or feeling like I'm alone on an island because I feel like I'm the only one thinking what I'm thinking. Once again, I often find myself fearful to speak up out of fear of being rejected or criticized. So, continuing with this theme lately of kicking fear in the butt, I want to share my private email exchange I just sent to a friend:

We've been talking a bit lately about LGBT sexuality and I've been doing a lot of reading about the subject from a Biblical perspective. I've been purposefully reading things that are contrary to what I have been taught growing up because I want to be challenged and I want to make sure that what I believe is truly what I believe, and not just some shallow idea that I'm regurgitating. In that, my friend sent me this blog to read as I processed it, I found myself getting more and more angry...

Honestly, it's a piece like this that makes me angered and embarrassed about the Church.

First, after reading the source material from Huffington Post, I feel like the blog is completely hypocritical. If the blog was written the same way but about Scripture, it would be labeled as proof texting, taking things out of context and making conclusions that the original text didn't make. No conservative Christian would have stood for that and it would be discarded for not being fully honest. Yet, for a Christian author to take a secular article and do exactly the same thing is ok? I argued this in a another blog recently, but if we as followers of Christ want to stand for Truth, then we have to be more consistent in how we handle truth. If we aren't going to handle material honestly and above reproach, then we have no business pointing our finger at the "lies" that other people are telling. 

Second, I think this blog completely places the emphasis on the wrong syllable. It comes across as condescending, demeaning and condemning. I feel like they could have just written, "The gay communities' loneliness, depression and anxiety is their own fault and no one else's." (In essence, it's basically what the first two sentences that starts the piece says...) And by the last paragraph, the way I take it is that our job as Christians is to tell these gay men their sins and convince them of the lies they have been living by. This quickly gets in to dangerous territory...

In contrast, what I heard in the original piece is a cry for help:
  • "We're lonely and don't have many real relationships."
  • "We're struggling to find love and acceptance."
  • "We feel like we have to constantly hide, even with legal rights being granted."
  • "We're wounded and hurt and we're stuck in a cycle of wounding others to "protect" ourselves?"
  • "We're buried in shame because we can't be vulnerable, ever, because we'll be ridiculed and shut down."
If we're honest, these cries aren't any different from the ones that you and I have found ourselves saying as well at different seasons in our lives. More than anything, the original post is a reminder that we're all human. We have different issues, different journeys, but at the core, we're all created in the image of God and know that "it's not good for the man to be alone."

More so, as much as these cries for help are echoing throughout the gay community itself and the secular world, I would venture to guess that they even more impact the Church. If someone in the LGBT community can't talk to their gay friends; if they can't talk to their atheist friend; then they sure as heck aren't going to talk to their Christian friends or talk to a pastor. By starting the conversation with "their lifestyle is wrong," it slams the door in their face and creates extra hoops of shame for them to get through if they ever actually want to experience the Love of Jesus.

I feel like it would have been a much more loving, productive and helpful piece to ask: 

How can we as Christians can come alongside our LGBT friends, neighbors and co-workers? 

How can we be listening ears? 

How can we be compassionate? 

How can we by sympathetic to their hunger for relationship, belonging and worth? 

How can we make sure we're not building extra boundaries that are keeping them from God and the Church? 

How can we authentically invite them in to our communities where all of us are asking questions about the best way to live our lives in light of Christ and the Resurrection?

As long as we continue to place these questions second to the question of whether the lifestyle is right or wrong (and yes, that discussion is important!), we are only going to continue to feed in to the loneliness and separation of these men and women from the love of Christ. Yes, there is a time and place for, "go and sin no more," [and oh by the way, side note: that quote, and story as a whole, wasn't even in the original text of the book of John but was added in later......] and frankly we all need to hear that refrain for any number of things in our lives. But that refrain needs to follow love, compassion, rescue and acceptance first, rather than starting the conversation.

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