Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Freedom




What happens when the freedom of expression is taken away and the ability to say the uncomfortable is removed, have we moved to robotic responses? Just saying what other people want and or need to hear, so we don't get ourselves into trouble!

Having experienced MUCH inequality and as I sit and reflect where that came from it was surprisingly from the gay community (the diverse one). When I walked away from a gay identity, I lost many friends, I lost a home, I lost finances. Would I do it again? You bet!
And in my walk out, what was I faced with? A label of ex-gay? Straight? gay? Ex ex gay? And I was walking back into the Church…knowing that in that place is where the Lord wanted to bring much healing. But I feared the Body of Christ, because I knew that “this issue” was one we just don’t talk about. I had heard people say… “homosexuality isn’t in our family? It isn’t something that has affected OUR CHURCH!” So we stay clueless of the issue! Hoping above all else that “this issue” stays away from us. Yet, we are all ONE BODY…and regardless of denomination, location, styles of worship, we are one. If just one person struggled with same gender, within the whole body of Christ…it has affected us…and we need to educate ourselves and be aware of our call to minister with truth and grace.

For myself…I began to realize that in as much as everyone was needing me to quickly identify myself, I was in the land of limbo! Sure, I was still attracted to men, but part of my reasoning to say no to a gay identity was that for me, I had experienced God calling me out of that identity. It wasn't a human that told me to do it, rather I heard God speaking to me. In acknowledging this, why would I then say I am still gay? When God said I wasn’t. No matter how I felt or who I was attracted to, I needed the Lord to define who I am. I am His child, His beloved, I am not the worlds child.

I began to see how he created me. I began to see the broken places where my sense of gender had begun to collapse. I came aware of the root issues to why I looked at other men with longing in my eyes.

I am not uncomfortable to say I am a heterosexual man. I am not uncomfortable to say that I still experience same gender attraction. I am not uncomfortable to say that I was once gay identified. But I will make no apology when I say that Christ has made ALL things new, even my sense of gender and my definition of who I am and that I am not gay, that was not his intention for me. I make no apologies when I say this to everyone in the body of Christ. I think we have a tendency to perpetuate this in our cultural and spiritual communities, identifying ourselves with our brokenness and addictions, our gender confusion.

With the freedom of expression I am able to say this is what I believed and this is now what I believe. Liberation however can be quite painful, but I count it all loss, for the gain of Christ.

A Director of a Ministry quoted that “ex gays seek to get rid of their same sex attraction as an expression of their sanctification we perpetuate the systemic inequity that has haunted and exhausted and engendered fear for generations.”

For me, I am not getting rid of my same sex attraction, rather, Jesus Christ is refining and defining me as I continually submit my attractions, my feelings, my sense of identity at the level ground of the cross.

Are we to hold on to the cultural definition of same sex attraction? Or are we to hold on to the eternal perspective of sanctification? There is no inequity, nor haunting that has happened, and if it has, it has happened because of the worlds standards being placed upon the heads of God’s children. When Christ says “I make all things new”, does that just mean certain sin? Does it mean anything but my identity? Or how I or the world labeled myself?

For years I thought that my same sex attraction was so different than any other sin. I thought it was the worst one. Now, if we look at the Church we can say that it was perpetuated by the Churches response to those struggling. For myself, did I receive the best counsel from the body of Christ? Sometimes I did, and sometimes I didn’t. For years, fear dominated the response to those struggling. Fear of saying the wrong things, fear of offending, fear of the issue out of a lack of knowledge of those who are struggling. I would like to believe we have come a long way in our response to those who are struggling, and our response to what is happening culturally all around us.

As I stand looking at what can be viewed as “both sides” of the issue of same sex attraction, I see now a pendulum swing toward the faith community taking a more cultural stand regarding same sex attraction. It’s as if we have lost our voice. We’ve now said, “it’s okay to be gay and Christian, with a sense of validity, and ‘coming out’.
We’ve now perpetuated the ‘fear issue’ within our church communities, especially with those who say ‘it’s not okay!’ Rather than holding to God’s boundary lines for our gender and sexuality, we have crossed the boundaries, expecting God’s blessing, expecting him to just embrace us in our willing disobedience.

As we engage the culture, and engage with those who are in the LGBT faith communities, how much have we lost in order for us to bridge the gap? Jesus was all about speaking life and truth into people’s lives. He was about redemption. He was all about unconditional love, which he showed on the cross of Calvary. He was never about us being complacent in our sin. Just as he showed with the criminal on the cross, who rebuked the other criminal saying “Don’t you fear God? Since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

I wonder have we lost the fear of God, for the sake of unconditional love? Yes, the gospel is about love, but it is rich with other disciplines and truths that we cannot discount or brush under the rug for the sake of love.

Jesus loved…but never to the place of complacency or validation for sin. I believe Jesus loves those who struggle with same sex attraction and he loves those who are LGBT identified. Jesus loves. He also calls us out of sin and tells us to sin no more. All sin, including homosexuality. That may sound harsh, but it’s the truth. It’s the truth of the gospels. We can’t negate who Jesus was and is. We can’t refute God’s boundary lines which he has drawn for us for our well being.

It’s not God who formed and designed people to be gay or lesbian, bi or transgendered. God never designed his children to walk in this state of gender bending confusion. We have an enemy that comes to kill and destroy, who is the great deceiver of all time.
We may feel as if God created us this way (I know that at one point I too believed that lie) but God has clearly created us to bear his image, male and female he created them. He created us to come together, for us to show the world, who God is, both male and female.
He did not primarily have male and females come together in marriage to procreate. His primary goal was for us to come together in union to show the character of God in the masculine and feminine, walking together. Period. If childbirth comes out of that, it is a blessing and gift.

When my wife and I got married, we realized that we were two whole people coming together to reflect the image of God in how we walk in relationship with each other and to show that to the world around us. We walk in this reflecting, with humility and grace, knowing we are still being perfected and know our weaknesses and dependence on Christ to continue to be enough for us in our areas of lack. We recognize the body of Christ being an important part of our journey. To walk in community means we avail ourselves to others eyes. It’s saying…”please, if you see anything that I am doing that isn’t pleasing to the Lord, call me on it. I want holiness at any cost, and sometimes I can’t see deception and need other people in the body to help.”

So my question in this is “How are we responding to those who say I am a Christian and I am okay with being gay, lesbian, bi or transgendered?” “How are we responding to those who say God made me this way and He loves me?” When we speak a challenging word, who is being offended? Are we not speaking in love when we say “That is not God’s best for you? That God did not create you that way?” I wonder when offense happens, are those who are being deceived not offended with God, rather than our response? For God loves, but never to the point of allowing us to stay where we are at. Jesus came for us to have life and have it in abundance, never for us to stay comfortable in sin.

Part of God’s leading and directing us in response is to first ask Him to search us and know us. Are we speaking out of a heart that is soft to His leadership? He loves us and wants us to respond well.
James 4:6-10
God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourself before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

I wonder before we respond to those we think we should respond to, are we first washing our hands? Are we allowing our hearts to be purified? Are we single minded?

So what do we do? Where do we go from here? I believe that the Lord is calling the Body of Christ to be educated to learn to grow and mature. HE is not calling us to a complacent life. Rather a radical dependence on Him with all our stuff, first, before we look at someone else and point a finger or speak even one word. What is in your life that you are being challenged with? How is holiness being played out in your life?
Are you complacent in sin? What are you worshipping? What do you turn to before you turn to Jesus? Entertainment? The Culture of today? Porn? Self gratification? Relationships? Work? Family? Food? Your identity? Status? Vacations? Is God enough for you? When there is lack…is He enough?

Lord I thank you that you presence yourself with your people. I believe that you are speaking and challenging us to step out of our comfort zones to pursue you with passion and purity…to hold holiness at all cost.

Lord you say that we are the salt of the earth. Help us Lord to remain salty. Forgive us Lord of our complacency, forgive us when we have allowed fear to keep us silent. When we have hid the light of Christ to others. Help us Lord know what grace and mercy is and season our responses out of your abounding love for us. Take us deeper in your love. Papa God…your love is deeper, higher, and wider than what we can even comprehend and imagine. There is none like you Lord God. Come Lord show us who we are in you, who we are in your love. Help us to love out of our experience of knowing how much you love us first, your sons and daughters. We praise your name. We glorify you, saying your name is Holy, Holy, Holy. Let your kingdom come here…let it fall here in our church community, in our homes, in our families, in our work places, everywhere we walk, would your kingdom come. May your loving will be done, here on earth, just as it is done in heaven.
Lord we thank you for your blessings and your provision. We thank you for all you have given us. WE are grateful for rescuing us, for saving us, for redeeming us. For your washing. Wash us Lord from all the things we do that take our eyes of you. Wash us clean Lord…come wash us…wash our minds, our hearts, our ears, our eyes, our hands, our feet. May there be no place that your water does not clean. Forgive us Lord of all our debts, all the things that we hold against others, all the things we hold against ourselves. Lord forgive us when we have not walked in love. Forgive us when we have used our words as punishment, or when we have spoken out of fear, rather than out of truth and honesty, submitting everything we say to you. Lord forgive us. Help us to forgive others. Help us to be a body that is forgiving and may we be quick to forgive.
We ask Jesus that you would lead us on the path of life. As we walk out your redemption in our lives, help us in our broken area of temptation. Help us to not worship creation, but rather may we worship you…the only one we are to worship. Guard us and hedge us in with your protection against the enemies schemes against us. Deliver us your sons and daughters from anything that we have allowed to come in to our lives that is not pleasing to you. We want to remain faithful to you Lord. We want to be found faithful until the end…until we meet with you.
We love you Lord…and thank you for your grace.

Amen

2 comments:

Sarah said...

Here's something the Dean of Students and former Prof at a bible college I attended a number of years ago had said recently,

"when sin is minimized salvation is devalued. A small sense of sin equals a small sense of Christ."

As I thought about that I began thinking that we strip the power of Christ on the cross when we shy away from truth and yet we hinder the vulnerable in coming to Christ when the standard is spoken of without grace.

Pearl said...

Your writing is powerfully moving Ken. Much of this resonates within myself, as God is showing me that He is enough for me. I find as life happens, it is easy to skim in my relationship with my Father and be preoccupied with good things, but again and again He calls me back to that intimacy and honesty.