Is it Possible to be "In" and "Out" at the Same Time?
Yesterday I introduced you to Adam. He's gay. He also pastors a GLBT-friendly church in a major metropolitan city in America. He's also my friend. Over the past few years, we've had some really interesting conversations. For example, there was the time when I explained to Adam how I came up with the original idea for the book these blog posts were supposed to be. I had no idea then that these very conversations would be used to show why this book could never be published by a Christian publisher.
ME: First, you have to understand that our conversation presents something of a wrinkle for my original plan. But it’s a good wrinkle, a wrinkle I should have thought of but didn’t. I initially envisioned this as a series of conversations between me (a Christian) and others (non-Christians). I hadn’t thought about how people might have difficulty having a conversation over a difficult issue (say, homosexuality) with someone who isn’t only not a non-Christian (so many negatives) but has actually been an Evangelical pastor.
ADAM: I’m “in” but I’m “out”.
ME: Funny. My understanding of “set theory” teaches me to be careful about labeling people “in/out” – but old habits must die hard I guess.
ADAM: So, how did you come up with this idea in the first place?
ME: Well, I have a very good friend from high school who now lives in New York City. He is out, and he is loud. He and I have always been able to have great conversations “across the great divide.”
ADAM: Like what?
ME: He’ll send me an email periodically demanding, “Can’t you people do something about Pat Robertson?”
ADAM: Like impeach him or something?
ME: Yeah, I guess. I’ll usually write back, “We didn’t elect him. He just buys up TV time. We’ll do something about him when you people do something about Perez Hilton, okay?”
ADAM: Do you think your friend chose to be gay?
ME: I cannot imagine someone choosing to be gay. Most people I know who are gay did not come out of the closet shouting, “Hooray! I get to be gay!” Most of them came out kicking and screaming, “Awww, $#%! I’m gay?!?”
ADAM: That was my experience. I fought my own orientation for 44 years before I came out to myself. I did not want to be Gay and tried everything I knew to try and be Straight. My life would have been so much easier if I could have chosen an orientation.
ME: What would you have chosen?
ADAM: Oh, I would have chosen to be straight, but I didn’t choose the color of my skin either.
ME: Yeah, here’s where I’m going to disagree with you.
ADAM: I doubt it’ll be the last time!
ME: I’m not so sure it’s like skin color. The studies I’ve read seem flawed or skewed or pre-determined to find what they want to find. I’m not ready to say it’s genetic (though I’m open to further evidence). But I know it’s not like we’ve sometimes thought.
ADAM: What do you mean?
ME: I remember being told that sometimes a young boy thinks, “Hey, I’ll try this once.” And he likes the way it feels, so he tries it again. Before he knows it, he’s hooked.
ADAM: Like smoking?
ME: Sort of, I guess. You can get addicted to it.
ADAM: But it’s just behavioral, right?
ME: Yeah, that’s what I heard when I was a kid.
ADAM: Do you still believe that?
ME: No, there’s something much deeper at work than merely behavior. Then again, that’s the case with most behavior, isn’t it? The human psyche is quite a mystery.
ADAM: No matter what Dr. Freud or Jay Adams or anyone else has to say!
ME: Hey, I may be clunky in this process. I should apologize before we go too far. I may say some things that hurt your feelings, but it will never be intentional. It’ll be because I’m being clumsy as I learn how to be more open in conversations like this.
ADAM: No worries about being clunky or hurting my feelings. I’m pretty much over all that. My sense of self, who I am and why I am is fairly well settled at my ripe old age of…uh…51. Don’t hold back. Speak freely. Say what you think.
ME: Thank you for that. It’s a difficult thing to stay connected with people, remain calm and keep from compromising your integrity – all at the same time.
ADAM: My sense is that the conversation will be far more mutually productive that way, and there is no need for you to feel like you’re walking on eggshells or even that you have to be LGBT politically correct. I just ask the same level of understanding from you. I’m going to disagree with you and offer differing perspectives.
ME: That’s the whole point.
ADAM: Exactly. But I do not want to be disagreeable when I disagree.
Okay -- deep breath -- here's our first chance to really disagree over some things, but can we take Adam's advice and try to not be disagreeable when we disagree? Can we be respectful and treat one another with dignity like Jesus would want, please? I don't like to moderate the comments here with a heavy hand, but I will if this gets ugly.
Question: Do you think a person can be Gay and Christian at the same time?