Thursday, October 18, 2007

Go Ahead, Look Right Through Me.

Okay, I've decided that until more interesting stuff develops in my relationship with Hitch, I'm not going to blog about it, just because you probably don't want to hear all the confusing details of my scatterbrained thoughts on the issue. What I will blog about, though, is how certain friends are being great right now, just by taking the time to listen to the ramblings going on in my head.

Only a few people (in the so-called real world) know of my decision to remain celibate and my conservative interpretation of the Bible's passages on homosexuality. When Hitch first asked me out on a date, I went to four of these friends for advice. Two were girls, two were guys, two were conservative, two were liberal, and all were Christian. As expected, I got a variety of views, but the one piece of advice that they all agreed on was, "Be honest." It was good advice, because that's exactly what I aim to be.

One of the friends I went to was a guy from my Bible study named Austin. He's a really cool guy. He's very trustworthy and a natural leader, and it was the aura of trust around him that made him one of the first people I came out to when I got to college. Granted, we're not really good friends. We don't have anything in common except for our love of Christ. He's definitely a big, tough guy while I, of course, have admitted to having a little more "sugar in my step." ;-)

Nevertheless, it's easy to talk to him, and he's a great listener. I told him of my concerns, and he asked many questions about what I was looking for in the relationship, what I believed in terms of God's plan for human sexuality, and how I expected to go about reconciling the two. He's conservative and agrees with most of my choices, and he said that I could trust that he wouldn't tell anyone else in the Bible study. My response was that I didn't care who he told.

I have no shame in my struggles, nor do I have shame in my orientation. If my story can help end some of the bigotry and prejudice that, unfortunately, abounds in Evangelical circles, then I don't care if it's shouted from the rooftops. Of course, whenever I express this, I'm always warned that I should be "careful" when it comes to who I talk to. I don't think that should happen. I hold transparency in the highest esteem, and I think it's a shame that most Christians don't.

How can we really share our struggles and the joys that God has blessed us with if we're only advised to "get personal" with one or two people? Can't I be personal with everyone? Can't I tell someone exactly what's going on in my life, even if I don't know them that well? To me, the very bond of being a Christian should mean that there will be automatic trust, concern, and a lack of judgment whenever I share something with other believers. It's a shame that other people don't expect this.

When I'm in some Christian circles, I just get the feeling that everyone is plastic. Sure, they have struggles. But they don't share them. They might have one or two people whom they trust, but otherwise there's this veneer of happiness and joy. No one wears their emotions on their sleeves. That, or they genuinely are that happy all the time. I don't buy that.

Being transparent is hard. There is, of course, a balance that must be found between being open and being polite and appropriate. But some people take politeness to the extreme, to the point where they just seem too perfect. It's almost intimidating. Personally, I've always worn my emotions on my sleeve. I can't really hide or back down or pretend that I'm someone I'm not. If I can be myself around God, why can't I be myself around His Christians? Yes, I understand that lacking an "outer shell" makes my personality seem unstable. I know that in this blog alone I've described myself as shy, ambitious, energetic, mellow, ditsy, and intellectual. It just depends on how I feel at the time. But at least those things are mine, and not something that I've had to build.

What are your thoughts on transparency? How open should we be with other Christians? For bloggers, how open should we be on our blogs? Sometimes I get concerned that I share too much here, but it is an easy place to be oneself. Hope everyone is blessed, and apologies for the rambling, spastic tone of the post. It's a Thursday. :)

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hey Jay,

Your post really struck a chord with me because it reminded me very much of my own struggles when I was a Christian in college. I remember very well being among other Christians who all felt compelled to "put on a happy face" no matter what was going on, or who felt that they had to always mention "how awesome God is" no matter what was going on. Yes, it felt very plastic, but I completely understand why it happened. Christians are supposed to be "above all that" and "not of this world" and "truly free in Christ".

It doesn't help to feel that way when things aren't going right in life. Christians are human beings, after all, with real struggles, real pains, and real feelings.

Of course, my deeper frustration was when I was younger and going to church while simultaneously hiding a deep, dark secret. There were so many times when I worried if anyone ever found out about my being gay and how they would treat me afterward. Maybe that's how I got used to "putting on a happy face", but it didn't do well to help me practice the virtue of honesty.

It sounds like your experiences are much like mine after I came out to my Christian friends in college. I learned to be a lot more open about my feelings after that. I think the thing to remember is that everyone is different, and while many Christians may feel plastic there are many more who are not. You have to judge everyone on an individual-by-individual basis, and no, not every Christian is going to appreciate or understand your feelings. You're clearly a very open and trusting person and that's endearing. I only hope you have close and dear friends who will treat that gift with the respect that it deserves.

Regards,
Jimmy

Robert said...

Jay,

Be as transparent as you want on your blog. It is anonymous. I have seen and read some amazing things on blogs, and the honesty helps put things in perspective both for the writer as well as the reader.

A couple of thoughts though: Gay and straight men can both have intense, loving relationships where there is no sex involved. I have had a couple of such relationships, and they are great!

That said, there will be more than one person who comes into your life where there will be a mutual sexual attraction where you both will be knocked on your head. Being honest with yourself and to the other man is going to be very important. If your views and actions do not match, you may find yourself in a cycle where you are having sex, then regretting it, then having some more sex, then regretting it, etc. That is no way to live your life for yourself or the object of your affection.

RikFleming said...

Jay,

Being transparent is a freedom that comes at a price. But so long as you are willing to suffer the rejection by some in order to be more open and free with others, it is worth the cost.

The bottom line for me is: I know Who died for my sin and I know that my true friends love me. Everyone else can stand next to the Pharisees on judgment day.

I am reading a really good book that my pastor friend (who I recently "came out") to gave me and I think you'd benefit from it too:

Edward, T. Welch, "When People Are BIG and God Is Small: Overcoming Peer Pressure, Codependency, and the Fear of Man."

I pray for you all the time,

Rik

Jay said...

Jimmy and Robert: Thank you both for your great advice and comments. I can really relate to everything both of you said. Although I don't intend to judge anyone (plastic or not), I do hope that my own openness can show people that it's okay to be open. And I'll try to keep myself out of any dangerous cycles. :) Thanks again!

Rik: I pray for you as well. I wouldn't say that everyone who has a problem with my openness or disagrees with me is a Pharisee. That's proud. What's most important is to look inward and see which parts of myself are like that of a Pharisee, and then work against those parts. I'll look into the book, and I hope you continue to do well.

Joe said...

hi,

I agree with Robert above that you should be as open as you feel like on a blog. It's your own thing to do whatever you want. Sometimes when I'm writing on mine, I think, oh gosh, is someone going to think I'm a freak if I post this? Not that I think being gay and Christian are two diametrically opposed things or anything ridiculous (or the only two topics I write about), but sometimes I worry if something I'll post would be "too gay" for some people and something else will be "too Christian" for others (and most of the people who read my blog are friends). A lot of my Christian friends frustrate me because we can't/don't/won't talk about anything homosexuality related (even though they know I'm gay)... I mean on one hand, it's not like I yearn to talk about it non-stop or that there's a need to, but I often do feel like if I did want to, it would be an awkward convo. So basically I'm saying I'm a big ol hypocrite who says to be honest and open with fellow Christians (especially friends!), but have a hard time doing it myself. I'm at a new school for grad school and after surviving undergrad, I'm finding it a bit easier to be open with new people I meet, but we'll see how it goes. I think I totally turned this into a venting session for myself and I apologize!

This was probably explained eons ago in an older entry, but how come only a few people know about your decision to remain celibate and your conservative views of the Bible in regards to homosexuality? I had assumed you were out to many people and that those many would all know about these things, I guess.

This is way cliche, but keep on being yourself. There are too many introverted people like myself and waaay too many fakie plastic people (especially on college campuses!).

Joe

Jay said...

Hey Joe,

The only reason more people know about my "gayness" than know about my celibacy is because the latter is a more controversial view. It's very personal, as well, so I'm only likely to tell it to someone that I am close with. I'm starting to view my homosexuality as no more important than my eye color, so it's easier to talk about. Thanks for commenting, and I'm sorry it took me forever to respond!