February 14, 2009

Starting a Seeker-Friendly Small Group

For anyone seeking how to reconcile their faith and sexuality, we are starting a seeker-friendly small group at our home on Friday, February 20 beginning at 7:30 PM. This is an opportunity for people to bring their questions and share in a safe, open, and affirming environment. Snacks will be provided and there will be opportunity for fellowship afterward. At this point, we are planning on meeting every other Friday. Our home is located in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Please contact us by e-mail at straight_notnarrow@yahoo.com for the address and more information.

February 11, 2009

"Where Are You Going?"

No one can take God away from you. Period. No exceptions. Regardless of what anyone tells you, there is no barrier between you and the Lord other than you--once you knock that down, it's down and no one else can put it back up. Being a GLBT person, unlike what many Christians want you to believe, in NOT a barrier. Here is an excerpt from a piece written for Whosoever Magazine by Rev. Vera Borne that relates her experience with that truth:

My life has been steadied by a backbone of faith that has withstood tremendous odds, and this I can attribute to the fact that from the age of four I knew God as a friend, someone to depend on, someone to trust and someone who loved me. The only time I doubted this was in my twenty-fifth year when those in my church informed me that God could never love me while lived a lesbian lifestyle, and would never hear, let alone answer, my prayers. They said I need to turn my back on these sins, marry, and then God would again look favourably on me.

It didn't take very long for me to realise no one could take away the relationship I had with God. There were no barriers to the intimacy I knew with God, they existed only in the minds of folk who believed God judged the way they did. If my relationship with God floundered it would be because I had shifted, not because God had moved away from me. Yet, even though this comfortable relationship existed, my soul ached for something more. I questioned those around me, and hammered at God's door for an answer, until I learned that these methods were mine and not God's. When I stopped asking, and began listening, things began to change. Instead of me asking the questions, Jesus presented me with questions that I needed to deal with.

Listening often seems like a lost art, but it is a skill that can greatly enhance our relationship with the Lord. After all, who would you rather listen to, Him or you? Personally, I'd pick Him, and people who know me will tell you I'm not uncomfortable with the sound of my own voice.

Click here to read the rest of the essay at Whosoever Magazine.

February 10, 2009

Internet Radio Appearance Wednesday

That's right, I'll be appearing on "Outlet Radio" tomorrow, an Internet broadcast beginning at 1 PM EST.

I'll be visiting with host Jase Preston-Yocom about what we're doing with this blog and ministering to the GLBT community.

Please join us and listen in tomorrow at 1 PM EST.

Here's the link for Outlet Radio.

February 09, 2009

Correcting the View of American Christianity

I wish I could claim credit for writing this piece, but I at least want to share it with you:

Imagine what would happen if all the Christians in the world became genuine lovers of neighbors. I believe that one of the reasons the contemporary church has not made a greater impact on secular society is that we’ve strayed from the theme laid down by our Lord. We have been influenced by the culture for more than we have influenced culture. We have fought fire with fire; hatred with hatred. We have sometimes exalted ourselves and put others down—often in the name of defending the Truth. We have treated others with disrespect in an effort to convince them that they are wrong and we are right. To many secularists in western society, Christians are seen as a right-wing political party motivated to promote its own agenda while attacking others in the process.

I am not suggesting that Christians refrain from involvement in the political process. As citizens, we should be involved on every level and in every corner of society, but our attitude is to be love. We are to seek the good of others, treating all individuals with dignity and respect, even when we disagree intellectually or politically with their position.

I think the writer's description of the view of Christianity is, sadly, very accurate, and I also think the very basic steps he followed with are the key to changing it, making Christians more effective in leading people to Christ and growing in Him vs. passing ballot initiatives, often ones that restrict civil rights.

The interesting thing about this piece is where I found it, in the most recent edition of "In Touch" magzine, the publication of Dr. Charles Stanley's ministry. Dr. Stanley is clearly NOT accepting of homosexuality, but GLBT people could certainly embrace this excerpt from his magazine if his ministry applied it to them.

The piece was written by Dr. Gary Chapman, the author of "The Five Love Languages" and other faith and relationship books. I was not able to conclusively ascertain where he stood on same-sex relationships, but he is clearly not an open advocate of them. Despite this, his words should resonate with all Christians, and impact how even those who don't accept the rightful place of the GLBT community in God's kingdom.

Carrying a sign and shouting "God hates fags" doesn't even remotely resemble Christ. Neither, I believe, does denying GLBT people full fellowship in His church and full rights in society.

When will people like Dr. Stanley, a learned, gifted preacher of the word of God, move beyond his blind spot and open his arms to accept GLBT people as they are? I wish I knew, but in the interim there are words of wisdom to glean out of his and other ministries who, while they are not affirming, still have a lot to teach us about building and strengthening our relationship with God.

February 08, 2009

"Less Shouting, More Talking"

There was an interesting essay in last week's Newsweek titled "Less Shouting, More Talking." The writer, Richard Mouw, is the president of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, CA, and he wants to have a civil conversation about same-sex marriage, which he voted against when he cast his ballot in favor of Proposition 8.

I have spent several decades of my life trying to spell out an evangelical alternative to "the worst kind of fundamentalism." My friends and I have argued that the Bible supports racial justice, gender equality, peacemaking and care for the environment—views that often draw the ire of the worst kind of fundamentalists. But none of that seems to matter to folks who don't like our views about same-sex relations. Because we also believe that the Bible frowns on sexual intimacy outside of marriage between a man and a woman, we are being relegated to the margins of the civil dialogue.

I refuse to go to the margins. As my fellow citizens in a pluralistic society, gays and lesbians have a right to ask me what my sincerely held convictions mean for how they pursue their way of lives.

I don't doubt his sincereity, but he also brings up "deep concerns about the raising of our children and grandchildren," "what would keep us from extending marriage to a three-partner arrangement," and "will we even be allowed to counter these influences in our homes and churches without being accused of 'hate speech?'" These phrases are right out of the right-wing fundamentalist playbook, the "worst kind of fundamentalism" that Newsweek editor mentioned several weeks ago when the magazine ran a cover story on same-sex marriage.

Mr. Mouw wants credit for holding moderate positions on several other important issues, but for someone focused on marrying his same-sex partner, why should it matter his concern for the environment matter when Mr. Mouw wants to stand in the way of them enjoying the same civil rights he does?

Of course folks like Mr. Mouw can enter into a civil conversation about this issue--it's not his rights at stake, held hostage to the whims of voters. He can show a level of compassion while still being dispassionate. I suspect if roles were reversed, he'd be a bit more riled up if someone voted to take away HIS right to marry.

Trying to divert the focus on the tone of the conversation is a lame attempt to avoid facing up to the actual content--those who voted for Proposition 8 and any other constitutional prohabition of same-sex marriage treat GLBT people as lesser citizens. When one group places themselves up on a pedistal, especially when it propped up by a misinterpretation of the Bible, those who are looking up generally have to scream and shout to be heard.

When "the other" is treated as an equal, then we can have civil discourse. Until then, the GLBT community and their allies plan on making those advocating discrimination as uncomfortable as possible.

Prayer Requests

We're starting a page for readers to leave their prayer request on. We know that some of you are not plugged into an affirming church where you can join with others to prayer for your needs of those of loved ones and people you know, so we want to offer this resource for you to use 24-7.

Know that we will all be reviewing this regularly and praying for those needs listed in the comments. They can be as general or personal as you care to make them, just be respectful of others and remember that first and foremost this blog is a safe place for GLBT people.

Thank you for allowing us and other readers to pray for you. May God bless you and answer those petitions.