I tried to handle this with grace, deferential replies and trying to keep the conversation low-key given the potential audience. I try to keep in mind that while I want to make a rational impressions, it's not my goal or my job to change THEIR minds. They often seem frustrated they can't change MINE. what does a person really expect? That I'm going to create all this emotional anguish for myself and my family and I'm suddenly just going to go "you know what, you're right - what was I thinking?" and drop it just like that - all because someone tells me to "snap out of it"?
But honestly, I don't blame him for trying. Like I said, by his lights he was being concerned enough to intervene, just as one would with a drunk or a drug addict. It saddens me that so many people would agree readily with that analogy and see me as just as much in need of intervention, I wish it were not the case, but I might as well acknowledge that this is exactly what a lot of people think. Denial gets one nowhere.
This man was a person I'd spent several years going to church with - he makes the 4th person from that congregation to have, in one form or another, tried to "straighten me out." What I came away from that conversation with is a feeling not unlike what we all feel after a disagreement, albeit writ a bit larger - "here's what I should have said." Still, most of the things I would have like to have said are things that really don't fit into a discussion held just inside the door of the Wal-Mart.
Still, one of the cool things about having a blog is that you don't have to leave any thought unexpressed. so here they are. some of these you've read in this space before, perhaps some you haven't.
- You, sir, are divorced - we're both aware of what that Book you are metaphorically waving at me says on that subject; furthermore, you are remarried and it's even MORE blunt on that point. How do you account for your "sinfulness"? How will you fix this conundrum? And let's not bring up the tales that get told after a divorce - since I can't prove that which was said (is ever said in any divorce) is true. But still, there's potentially more on this point if I wanted to be that way.
- It's true that I preached in "your church" and I'll admit I might well be faulted for preaching as a form of desperation to be "good enough" to be "healed" - It is a sort of insincerity, although i will argue that I was sincerely seeking to serve Him and serve in that role, and for that I need not apologize. But in those messages on more than one occasion I mentioned the reality that Christians have to wear masks lest they be judged when their flaws are revealed to their "brethren." Seems to me that that's what is happening here.
- What do you judge me to be? A pervert? then I was perverted as a small child which I doubt you believe; A mental case? do you judge those with other mental conditions so sternly and tell them to "snap out of it"? A "defect" (similar to my own view), do you judge others born defective so sternly?
- How do you explain a god, if your view of him is right, who condemns that which his child repents of with tears for decades and yet does nothing at all to heal or restrain the condition? How does that match up with all the Scripture that says if you cast your burdens on him he will not forsake you? is there any other explanation but that this is not, in fact, a sin?
- You asked "So you like men now?" - is it really so difficult for you (and others who share your misconception) to think of gender as something other than "who I want to have sex with"? Is your manhood nothing more than being attracted to women?
- Going back to the first point - you mentioned the fact that I have kids and implied something about my having taught kids at church . . . I must ask, have you repented and remedied the poor example your divorce sets for the kids who look up to you (taking the strict understanding of scripture here that is generally used against folks like me)? Or is there a secret lists of the sins which "aren't really all that bad" as distinguished from notorious sins like mine?
But nevertheless, it does wear on one's soul when those who profess to care about you find it so easy to assume the worst and so hard to give the benefit of the doubt. For years I've had unbelievers point to exactly that sort of behavior as a reason why the wouldn't hear the arguments put forth by believers and for the most part I defended my fellow believers. I argued against the stereotypes which are as unfair to Christians as gay stereotypes are unfair to the typical homosexual. But the sad truth is, while many of my fellow believers have treated me with love and compassion and refrain from judgment (at least to my face) there are enough like my friend today who behave exactly like the worst cliches and make it harder for many to come to faith.
Again, I can't say this enough, I do not write this to bash my friend - he really was, in my opinion, intervening out of love as he understood it. I'm just pleading for some of my fellow believers to really think through what they believe about this. God himself said "let us reason together"so, for GOD'S sake - REASON. Don't just take what "everybody knows" without thinking it through. there was a time when "everyone knew" that blacks and whites should not marry...there was a time when "everyone knew" it was Biblical to own another human being, there was a time when "everyone knew" that a woman was basically her husband's property.
I'm not saying that because those things were wrong, that it proves that what "everyone knows" about people like me is wrong now - but I am saying that the only way that those wrongs were corrected was when a few folks were bold enough to give some reasoning to the bit of noise that "everyone knows" and see that just because the majority thought so didn't make it true.