Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Diverse Friends

Sorry I have been fairly silent recently. This is basically my final semester of college courses, since next semester I will be student teaching, which is basically the same thing as being a full-time teacher in terms of hours, just without pay. I'm getting ready for all of that, and I'm also finishing my Senior English classes, which are pretty stressful. Graduate school applications are also pretty intense right now, so in general I'm finding it pretty difficult to blog.

With all of these things happening at once, I sometimes forget just how important these last few months are. Everything seems to be coming together at once, not only academically, but also socially. Over the past four years, I have met hundreds of people, both in-person and online. Some are Christians, many are not. Many of the online folks are gay, gay but celibate, ex-gay, post-gay, or some weird combination of all of the above.

I have grown a lot over the past four years. I have had so many great conversations with folks, both in-person and online. The conversations have been about God, faith, sexuality, and life in general. I have made a ton of friends on all sides of the controversial issues, and hopefully I have helped them grow and learn in the same way they have helped me grow and learn. Certainly, there have been some pretty intense talks and conversations, and quite a few debates with harsh words.

But I hope, and I have quite a bit of confidence about this, that despite the harsh words and the arguments about such controversial topics, strong friendships have been maintained and built. I'm in the unique position of being a conservative Evangelical Christian and a gay guy. I believe in God but I also have pretty hands-off beliefs about government, unlike many conservative Christians. I am not going to meet a single friend who I agree with 100 percent.

When talking to a traditional Exodus guy, we can experience a lot of connection when it comes to talking about battling temptation or fitting into Evangelical culture as men who struggle with same-sex attraction. We argue, often, when it comes to things like politics, or labels, or expectations of orientation change, or the theories of psychological development of homosexuality. It has been hard, I suppose, for a Side B guy like me to get along with both gays and ex-gays.

The experience, though, has been a needed one. If you don't get out there and meet people who are different from you, you aren't ever challenged. It would be easy to assume that all Evangelicals are bigots and all Exodus guys are delusional or anti-intellectual. Getting to know them, however, has shown a lot of diversity among them, almost as much as there is in the gay community. There is also a lot more open-mindedness, realism, and genuine academic curiosity than one would originally assume.

Now, the only hope would be that those on the conservative side of the spectrum would take a chance to get to know those on more liberal sides more often, and really get to know them without any prejudice or preconceived notions. As I move forward out of college, and start to build new relationships in graduate school and whatever community I eventually move to, I hope to keep living out this principle of getting to know people from all walks of life.


Jeff S. said...

I love you, brother. You have brought me to new places in my own thinking in several areas related to homosexuality. I also enjoy and appreciate the diversity of thought and discussion that comes with being in relationship with others who think differently. I have been stretched in new ways, which does not happen without its own struggles, but somehow I feel freer by not thinking in lock-step with those who seek safety in conformist thought with only like-minded individuals. My love for others has grown more greatly by joining in conversation with those who may think and believe differently than me, and what I love about it is what I have missed out on learning or considering from different perspectives. Your blog and follow-up discussion with you has helped me to process some of that new thinking.

Conicidentally just before I read this post of yours, I posted on my own blog about the conversation that Karen K. is conducting on her own blog and how she has also helped me to stretch in communicating with others who think and believe differently with me:


Enjoy your last few weeks of college life. You have made it a mission in itself with your blog.

donsands said...

Nice words.

The Lord loves His children, and He encourges us, and at times disciplines us, because He is a loving Father.

He is purging us into the image of His perfect and holy Son, Jesus Christ.

That's what this life is all about, being conformed into the image of the Savior.

Not that we shall ever be sinless in this world, we won't. But sin shall become even more despicable to us, and His grace become even more amazing, as we prayerfully look to His Word; and fellowship with one another "as we walk in light, as He is in the light" (1 John 1:7).

Have a blessed weekend Jay.

dwhwar said...

Hi Jay,

I thought a posted a comment here a few days ago - not sure where it went.

It didn't say much - except what a privilege it's been to have met someone like you (online)


troy said...

Jay, you have been such a blessing in my life. I have also been struggling with sam sex attraction and I thought that I couldn't find some one who I could relate to...with me being christian and believing that living the homosexual life style is not God's will. I am so glad that i found this blog. It is very nice to finally have someone i can relate to.

"Two are better than one, because they have a good reture for their work; if one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up." Ecclesiastes 4:9-10. This verse has always gave me hope in finding a good friendship. I pray that it helps you in some way.

donsands said...

Have a joyous and peaceful Thanksgiving Day my brother.

Jer. 31:3

Joe said...

Your gonna love student teaching. Hahahahahahahaha.