Thursday, February 5, 2015

Coming Out, and Coming Into Myself

A couple of my Facebook friends shared this article yesterday, wherein Matt Moore describes how for years he plead with God to make him straight. Though I do not affirm his moral conclusions on the matter, I think it is a thoughtful post, and in fact quite gracious (from a Conservative viewpoint) to those who may be in the Church and experiencing same-sex attraction - it doesn't discount it or degrade them for their plight. Moore concluded, however, that his prayers to God were based not on a desire to be "right" with God, but on a desire to "fit in" or be found acceptable to other Christians. He cites the Romans 1:18-26 anti-homosexuality clobber text and states,
"Homosexual desire – and all other sinful desire — exists in the hearts of people because worship of God doesn't. ...So why didn't God answer my prayer to rid me of my homosexual desires? Because homosexual desires were not my main problem. They were a problem, for sure. But the root of my problem was that I didn't love God or worship Him, and my homosexual desires were just fruit of that, so to speak. God's desire was to fix the root of my issues."
He says a few more things and then this:
"Am I now straight? Am I now normal? Am I now free from same sex desires and attracted solely to women?
No, no and no. ...
But even now, in this messed up damaged flesh, I have experienced some change in my sexuality over the past four years. I can't deny that. And the shifting in my sexual desires is a direct result of my grace-given love for God. I've grown in my disgust of homosexual relations because I see what a twisting and perversion it is of the image of God. And I've grown in my desire for women (specifically, one woman.… I wrote about it here), and maybe even in my desire for marriage, because I see how a one man + one woman marital covenant so beautifully reflects the image of God."

I love it that Moore is so honest in relating his very real experience of same-sex attraction, and his desire to please God is obvious. I don't know Moore or anything about him. But as I read the last paragraph I quoted above, especially his language in the lines I bold-faced, I saw a young man whose psyche has been covered with the fingerprints of well-meaning(?) Christians intent on helping him to see the "truth" of their interpretation of Scripture. Maybe I'm wrong...? But I don't think so.

I've got my own experience to go on.

I loved God. I worshiped him. As a teenager I wore skirts to school and carried my King James Version with me all day to all of my classes, in case I got a few minutes to read it here and there. In fact, I read through the entire thing in study hall one year. It wasn't because I was "cool" for doing these things (believe me!! lol), but because I couldn't get enough of God's Word, and the skirts...well, I was taught that was what God required of me, so I did it.

As a teenager, I spent my free time listening to Jimmy Swaggart's radio station, finding church services in the area to attend as many nights of the week as possible, praying, and fasting.

Oh, and begging, begging, BEGGING God to take away "unhealthy" sexual desires and habits. Not because anyone knew about them, or because they made me not "fit in," but because I believed they were displeasing to God, and wanted MORE THAN ANYTHING to please God. I LOVED Him. I believed I could really, truly know intimacy with God, and I absolutely sought it. It was not shallow or part-time for me: it was everything my life existed for.

But...those desires and habits and nagging feelings did not ever go away. In fact, I was almost always a little more physically attracted to women than men. And I was definitely always more emotionally attracted to women. But I chose not to think about it. I told myself I was just longing for a best friend, not a girlfriend. And honestly, yes, there were two or three guys I was really interested in dating during my time. But nothing ever happened with any of them. I never had a relationship before the one I am in now, with a woman, that started a little over a year ago (when I was 31!), and that just happened.

When I entered my current relationship, I felt like several people felt like I had deceived them, and covered up my sexual orientation. It simply is not the truth. I had never admitted it to myself. But now I can't believe I never did. It was simply a fact that was there all along, but I was conditioned to believe it was not possible that someone could be attracted to the same sex without being possessed by a demon. So I never allowed myself to believe I was LGBT.

I haven't said a lot about my experience in this last year - I have been thinking about it and finally looking honestly at it in terms of the whole spectrum of my life, and I think I am at last coming to understand what I have always known (or at least experienced, without allowing myself to admit).

It is so difficult to realize truth can be different from what you have always believed, or been taught to believe. When you seek God like I did, with my whole heart, for so very long, it is difficult to come to the place of realizing incongruence in what you are experiencing and what you think you know. I still love God. That hasn't changed!! But my perception of God is completely different than it used to be, and not nearly as paint-by-number clear. God is a wonderful mystery. I think we can still know enough about God to trust and love God, but I no longer think God looks like some extension of me and my ideals.

So...there's a beginning little bit about my experience over the last year.