Saturday, January 24, 2009

In The Middle

So fellow-blogger "P" has written an interesting series of posts about being the "in-between guy." Part One is here, and Part Two is here. Essentially, his posts are about the difficulty that guys who struggle with SSA have when it comes to fitting in. More than that, he also talks about the difficulty that one can face when they don't quite "fit in" with any of the mainstream ministries that reach out to gay Christians. I'm in that boat as well. I respect and am essentially supportive of Exodus, but I some of their political involvement just really turns me off to their ministry. I also think that the Gay Christian Network is extremely awesome for having a community of people who hold traditional views of human sexuality, also known as "Side B." I also think it's pretty awesome that, at GCN's recent conference, the Side B group had their own panel, and from what P said, people asked pretty good questions.

But still, even though I know people from both groups (and other folks who tend to be unaffiliated and just "go it alone" like myself), I can't say I really "fit in" with anyone. It used to bother me, until I realized that probably every individual, even if they are a part of one group or another, has his or her own ideas about things. As hard as I am on other people for making assumptions before getting to know me, I tend to do it quite a bit when it comes to others. I think I tend to go, "Oh, _____ goes to _____, so he must believe in _____, _____, and _____." Now, granted, sometimes assumptions aren't totally off, but I think if I meet someone and quickly make up my mind about what I'm likely to disagree with them about, then that really limits my ability to be a loving Christian.

I think taking a moderate position can be a good thing, but it can also be one that is just as susceptible to debilitating pride as rabid loyalty to whatever your "side" says. After all, if you're squarely on one side (and like I said earlier, few people totally are), you may have an "us vs. them" mentality, but if you're in the middle and think all of your views are right (which, granted, I don't), then you can have a "me vs. them vs. them" mentality.

Of course, the worst part about this is that there is no real solution. I'm still in the middle in terms of my beliefs and what I think are the appropriate responses to them, and I don't see that changing anytime soon. Mainly, what I need to work on is to stop labeling other people. If someone says they are conservative or liberal, I can't automatically assume that I know everything about their political stances. The same goes for if someone says they're involved in Exodus or GCN. It makes things difficult because it then requires that you actually get to know the person, rather than hitting the ground running with debate. Treating people as individuals is difficult. I get mad when Christians fail to do it with gays, and vice-versa, but I need to start keeping tabs on when I fail to do it, because I certainly am not a model for success in that area.

Other than that, nothing much is going on in my life. Classes are busy and I'm tired a lot (including right now, which is probably why this post is a lot more rambly and not as tightly-wound as I usually prefer). However, I'm doing well. I'm enjoying my work, which is more than I could say for past semesters, and I generally am learning to be a more productive, organized, and less spastic person. Oh, and here's a really cool song (and animation) from Boy In Static. Check it out.


P said...

Jay, thanks for the props. I find that am tempted to think of myself of more "enlightened" than the Exodus folks and more "scripturally sound" than the GCN side-a folks -as if I am the only person in the world who understands Biblical truth in regards to homosexuality but isn't a horse's ass about it. (Which, of course, just makes me a different kind of horse's ass.)

ivh said...

Very cool post.
As a gay Christian, I understand where you're coming from. My struggle is to remember that the labels people put on me don't matter, all that matter's is Christ's call on me.
At the same time, it's too easy for me to call out and disagree with people who don't share the position that I might take. I'm totally guilty of trying to manipulate the conversation or discussions relating to this really politically/religiously charged discussion topic, often at the expense of forgetting to value and appreciate who the person on the other side of the argument is.
Oh, and as a (fairly new) GCN member, I have to say that it is a pretty welcoming place, where people have a large variety of positions, and all are welcome.
Thanks for your blog, and continuing to seek honesty.

(i commented once before, i think. and have lurked and appreciated your blog for a long time. thanks for writing clearly and honestly.)

Ophir said...

I agree with you in your previous post where you observed that: "I feel that everything I've ever really wanted to say about my struggle with homosexuality, I've said." It's okay to exhaust a topic.

There are some people whose whole lives revolve around their homosexuality. Such people can be found in the Castro district of San Francisco and in Exodus workshops or whatever it is they do there at Exodus (I really dislike their appropriation of that word). The former are boring people with a very narrow and limited worldview, the latter have a similarly narrow worldview and seem to spend their lives tilting at windmills (perhaps ultimately trying to impress their own Dulcinea).

For now, it seems you've accepted celibacy as the option that is right for you and that suits your beliefs. Nothing wrong with that.

Seeing as so much of your attitude towards your sexuality seems to be determined by your religion, however, I think you'll find it better to focus your energies on that. Anyway, religion is much more interesting than homosexuality. For a start, continue reading the Bible (it has the added benefit of being infinitely more interesting and intellectual than the Exodus website). Read it critically, ask questions and seek answers. If you're not asking lots of questions while reading the Bible - you're not reading it right.

Also, don't just read all that Greek stuff written by those Hellenized Jews and Christianized pagans. The Hebrew stuff is good too, I promise. Read Ecclesiastes. Read Job. Read the Prophets. Read Genesis, which is one of the most profound works ever written (it is not a history, nor a science textbook).

Rachael Starke said...

See - the beauty of finding your identity primarily in Christ is that you don't necessarily have to look at people in all those different cross-sectiony kind of ways. And if your identity is in Christ, that means you permanently "fit in" with Him. Which frees you from having to worry so much about "fitting in" or being accepted by others.

If you're looking at people with the eyes of Jesus, there's really only two groups people fall into.

If they're Christians - they're "us." They're family, and we need to love them as such. (Easier said than done, but thankfully we have the Holy Spirit to help us!) And they ought to love us that way too. (See previous comment about the Holy Spirit.)

If they're not Christians, they're "them" - people who need to know the love of Jesus, which comes out in the way we speak to and serve them. (See previous comment about the Holy Spirit. :) )

See - easy! :)

Well, it's not, and I don't mean to be flippant. Just more thinking aloud.

I still keep wondering about that church of yours - that family that you're meant to be a part of. Hopefully you feel like you fit there?

Jay said...

P: Yeah, that's what I meant about the pride that can sometimes come along with having "moderate" views.

Ivh: And thank you for stopping by. I'm very humbled that you said I write clearly. I usually think I just ramble. Take care!

Ophir: It's okay to exhaust a topic.

Very true. I think you're totally right. There is a lot more left I have to learn about my faith, and I think I'm going to be focusing on that more in the future. Also, I do love the Old Testament, especially Job. Take care!

Rachael: I think it's just difficult to always remind myself of my identity in Christ, and such an identity doesn't take away the need for other people to like and accept me. I mean, yes, I know that Christ accepts me, and He should be enough, but as they say, no man is an island.

And I will have a post about my church up soon. Needless to say, it's a little difficult to get too involved when I have so much stuff going on, but it's a great group of people and I like them.

Brandon said...

I always hate when people comment to me as though I'm some sort of devil for rejecting homosexuality. I remember one particular commentor on my blog a few months back who pretty much accused me of representing everything homosexuals are against, and yet when I explained to him some of my views in a little more detail he backed off a bit. When you mentioned getting to know people, that reminded me of this. That guy didn't know me at all, but just assumed that because I agreed with one thing against homosexuality, I must agree with everything against it and those who have to face it.

If I've learned anything the last couple of years or so it's not to judge people so much. That's not to say I don't from time to time, but I really do try not to. I've seen how people who I thought were one way turned out to be completely different, and more than once. But I think you make a good point. When we take the time to get to know others, we find out so much more about them, and actually can find friends that way (imagine that) than when we just assume we know them and jump to a bunch of conclusions.

And about your writing skills, I think you doubt yourself way too much. I think you're a great writer. Whether you ramble or not you at least keep things interesting.

Jeff S. said...

I'm appreciating your blog, Jay. Good stuff.