Monday, December 10, 2007

So I can only be a youth pastor if I lie? Yeah that's smart!

First of all, I'm not planning on lying, or being a youth pastor again, but this conversation caused me to title this post that.

I've outed myself now to all my MN friends. My friend Shelia who I stayed with last night and her husband responded pretty well. Sheila is a friend of mine who I got into youth ministry (back in the days when I was a youth pastor). The church where she currently works as a youth pastor is part of a group of churches fighting so gay people can't be ordained. So I said, as I do...
So you don't think I should be allowed to be a youth pastor? Even if I stayed celibate? Even though you know me well and know my faith? Even though I already have been? Even though your church ordains divorced pastors (which talked against more in scripture than homosexuality)? Even though know more about me and my relationship with God than you do those volunteers you let work with your youth?
The only difference between now and me as a youth pastor before is that now I am saying who I am. I suppose you could say I am more self actualized. At a root level there is nothing different about me now then there was when I was in ministry. The main changes are that I hate myself less, feel like I can breathe, and have a lot more questions.

Yeah, that gave her some pause. I am glad I have been vulnerable all along about my struggles with things I used to call "emotional dependence" (aka a crush coming out sideways because the person thinks they can't have a crush). She wasn't shocked.

Her and her husband's assumption is that if you are gay you are promiscuous. So I explained the whole "Side A (marriage/life long commitment), Side B (celibacy), Side X (change)" routes that Christians these days choose between. (http://gaychristian.net) This seemed to help them get more of the complexity of the issue and how many christians who are gay try to wrestle with scripture. It was a good conversation I think. And I think my outing myself impacted them.

And now it's time to weave through the below zero weather for lunch and then the activities of mourning and remembering.

Also one of my favorite bloggers wrote this line in her blog. I love it! So even though it doesn't relate to anything....
from Michelle Tea’s “The Beautiful”, appearing at the end of a wistful what-might-have-been poem: “you are right where you should be / now act like it”

4 comments:

Cheryl said...

I certainly hope that your youth pastor friends will continue with their "not negative" response.

It was my experience when I came out to my church friends that, to my face, they responded with kindness; however, they did not really "get it" nor did they accept it.

Their ultimate responses were to pray for me, pray at me, provide me with literature and resources to show me the error of my ways, etc. Eventually, every single friendship that I'd once held so dear fell by the wayside.

What I think happens is that they WANT to believe what you're saying—that you're okay JUST AS YOU ARE, but it goes against everything they've been taught. They can't live with the dissonance of the two conflicting ideas. And since they don't HAVE to deal with it (like you and I have), if it's not an internal debate that MUST be settled, they choose not to.

Unfortunately, since most are unwilling to wrestle with the paradox that you embody (a gay Christian), they will probably push you to the back of their minds just like they will the idea that the Bible might not be as black/white on this issue as they believe.

I don't mean to be a negative Nelly, but I want you to be aware of the probabilities of coming out to your Christian friends. If you can approach it without the expectation that they will understand, you'll probably be better off.

I'm glad you are happy with yourself. Just know that openness and honesty in this regard, while making you a more real you, might also result in the sacrificing of "friends" who just can't handle it.

I so enjoy reading about your journey. It takes me back to parts of mine—the good, the bad, and the painful. The losing of friends was one of the most painful repercussions of all.

just me - titration said...

cheryl: yeah I hear you. Sounds also like you are encouraging me to be gentle with my heart.

I can't express how sad it is to read the line: "Eventually, every single friendship that I'd once held so dear fell by the wayside." Ouch!!!! So sad.

jen lemen said...

i once lost one of my very best friends when i revealed i didn't believe in the rapture or that israel was always right or that a literal resurrection was required for christianity to mean something. we had been friends for a decade and many of those years without ever touching on those subjects. but that information led her to believe that we had no foundation for friendship (since "christ" was the foundation of all her friendships) even though the only difference was that now she knew my views and before she didn't. i was the same person all along. i don't get this logic and it annoys me greatly, but i do know that once christian people know gay people in a real, authentic way, those old views are very, very hard to justify, let alone hold. good for you.

just me - titration said...

Jen. Why do people do that? Have such utterly conditional friendships? It's beyond me to understand it. Hey lovely to see you visit. :)