a recovering evangelical writes about homosexuality

I sit here at the computer, but my fingers don’t move. They are still, though my heart beats rapidly. I have wanted to write this since June 26th of this year, when a chasm already existent in America deepened to the lava core. But to be honest, I have been afraid: How many people in my life will defriend me for this post? How will I write this? How much questioning of my soul’s state will I bear? How do I even say what I think in any articulate or assertive manner? And then I was invited by the July 2015 synchroblog to write about gay marriage. A Divine Nudge. After all, what is writing if not a dangerous exploration?

I hope this dangerous exploration is sanctified by the truest Love.

Growing up, those of homosexual preferences were 1, foreign and/or 2, the butt of jovial jokes and insensitive insults. But this was out of ignorance, not fear or condemnation. That all shifted when I dove heavily into a strict, evangelical, conservative church during my formative years. The beneficial thing about such a context was I had very little decisions to make based on my own opinion. The toxic thing about such a context was I had very little decisions to make based on my own opinion. And so the decision, as ordained by the Words we leveraged to speak the words we declared as “the one true and only way,” was that to be homosexual was a sin: sad at best, disgusting at worst. Abominable.

I still cringe typing that. (Of course, we loved the sinner, even though we hated the sin.)

What I learned during that time of my life is undeniable in its treasure: discipline and self-control, true and authentic friendship, the art of leading, how to set apart sacred times for the Sacred, the skills of analysis and teaching that analysis, the delineation between superficial vs. deep, passion, social skills, humble service, etc. However, what I absorbed during that time is a subtle poison from which I’m still trying to detox:

  • Many Christian systems manipulate the bible to get what they want…and to feel good–or in true martyrdom, to feel guilty–about it. The fancy-pants term for this is proof-texting. This is the ability to condemn homosexuality while still allowing women to speak in church. This is the ability to declare one set of rules as softened by context (the Old Testament) while adhering to another set of rules more rigorously (the New Testament). This is the ability of a church to expect tithing while dismissing the need to walk around wounded in penance with one eye or one hand.  This sounds like: “Jesus was speaking metaphorically.” “Revelation is an allegory.” “Follow the spirit of the law, not the letter.” “It was a different time then.” “Pay attention to the audience.” “Paul was too radical.” “Now we have the Holy Spirit.” This looks like a myriad of Christian factions, each picking and choosing what’s important to them and then standing in self-righteous arrogance above the other “poor Christians” who just don’t get it. (This frightening lesson is exactly why I did no research in the bible, or outside of it about it, in order to throw around quotes and scriptures in this blog to back up what I’m saying. That was not easy for me, as this is still deeply ingrained.)
  • Many Christian systems judge the obvious sins on a much harsher scale as a way to distract from the internal, insidious “smaller” sins. How dare you love another man, look at porn, sleep around, and get drunk! That is murder against God. But meanwhile, please go ahead and oppress your wife, ignore your children, overeat, think in your heart evil things, speak half-truths, manipulate people to feel powerful, walk past those hurting, cheat on your taxes, talk shit about people on social media, change spouses like underwear, horde your wealth, envy the covers of Sports Illustrated and People, crave approval and advancement, and throw trash on the ground!

And we wonder why people avoid the church like the plague and leave it like a convict released from jail. I did, but I’m still recovering. I’m still wondering. I’m still questioning. I’m still healing. But I’m also still praying and seeking God. And what I have discovered on my journey as of late is that:

God. is. Love.

Where there is Love, there is God.

And so, a faithful and devout christian, who is full of judgmental hate towards something they have little experience with, well… where is the Love?

Meanwhile, a lesbian couple adopts a homeless and unwanted child, eager to give generously of their life and heart, well, there is the Love.

But, just to be clear, I’m not making blanket statements. I am DONE with that.

And so, a faithful and devout Christian, who is full of service towards the poor and spends Sunday mornings on the street passing out sandwiches, humbly and sincerely, well…there is the Love.

Meanwhile, a gay man misuses his position of power to lull in little children to his game of perversion, well…where is the love?

We are just people, looking for Love. We are all just humans, searching for Love.

So do I support gay marriage? No.

I support the marriage of two people, two humans, looking to get and give Love.

And in that place of Love, there is God. And ultimately, THAT is the “side” I want to be on.

***Other voices & opinions on this topic. Please note these posts are a part of the conversation, but not necessarily a part of my conviction.***

what I learned about facilitating while being a student

Recently I had the opportunity of attending the Advanced Placement Summer Institute just outside Seattle. 3 and 1/2 long days of non-stop seat time sure provides clarity on what and what not to do as a facilitator of learning–whether it be snotty little toddler students to scary big adult students.

  • The facilitator’s preparation sets the tone for the entire learning experience. If frazzled, students will be rushed. If disorganized, students will be disengaged. If insecure, students will be rambunctious. If unintentional, students will be misguided. Some surefire ways to set a focused tone: a quality-crafted agenda with clear outcomes that are reviewed consistently; strict reining in of tangents; a quick but clear pace.
  • Everyone doesn’t just need norms, they want norms…even if they are putting off that “I’m too cool for norms” vibe. In a room of competent and experienced Language Arts teachers, one would think we could move forward in a timely and purposeful manner that honors all parties in the room. But, even with grown adults, “honor” needs to be defined and normed at the beginning of every single birth of a new group dynamic.  Such norming prevents behaviors like this (which are not malicious but nonetheless annoying): computer Christie (names are alliterative but not authentic) in the corner who does everything online to avoid actually giving the time of day to the human adults beside her and the facilitator in front of her; galloping groupies who are too consumed finishing their preparation for their presentation to be respectful and attentive to the current group actually presenting; cocky Christopher who is dead set on the canon and consistently insists we are dying a slow death from cultural–read dead white guys–illiteracy…even when we’re talking about multiple choice strategies; tardy Tiffany who just can’t seem to make it on time; demanding Daniel who consistently usurps the (non-existent) agenda with his own directions. Yada yada…if you have ever been a part of a learning dynamic, you can name a hundred of your own pet peeves that, with just a little norming, could be alleviated.
  • It is the facilitator’s job to manage equitable access to processing and participation strategies. I am a verbal processor. I like to talk aloud through all parts of learning: introduction, competence, mastery. In all reality, not just do I like to talk aloud, I must. When there are opportunities embedded throughout instruction for me to turn and talk (gag at the dropping of a buzz word), I do learn more broadly, more deeply, and more permanently. I need that from a facilitator. Just as much as the non-verbal processor next to me needs some think time, in quiet, in peace, without the banter of dominating voices, well, dominating everyone’s thoughts. Speaking of that dominating voice, I’d like to get a word in edge-wise. But without a facilitator who is attentive to the pre-established norms, as well as the shared weight of participation across all members, the loud flies just keep buzzing while the quiet flies sit patiently–or not so patiently–on their shit. And that just stinks.
  • The best facilitators maximize space, place, and pace. Yes I am a “mature” adult learner. But no thank you, I do not want to sit in an uncomfortable plastic chair for several hours in the row looking at the same blank wall next to the same colleagues. Let’s put up some anchor charts that remind us this is our space. Let’s move the chairs around to reengage our numb glutes. Let’s take a brain break every hour to reinvigorate our minds. Let’s try something different than the traditional and easy sit and get. Variety is the spice of life, and the preservative of learning.

Of course at this training, I learned so much about how to be a better Advanced Placement English Lit teacher. But I also inadvertently learned a plethora of lessons on how to be an effective facilitator.

Let’s hope the learners I lead would never write a blog like this!

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