Continued from previous post...
At this point the thought may have crossed your mind that if I'm so magnanimous and forgiving of my critics and attackers, then why even talk about them (the Christian press, et al) at all?
I think it's a valid question...one that I've asked myself more than a few times.
In fact, I'm constantly examining my motives for everything that I say (write) and do.
And I am also of the persuasion that if you are intentionally provocative, then you forfeit the right to moan and whine when people are provoked by what you say and do...it comes with the territory.
But I would like to point out that Jesus, while being the perfect example of one Who constantly turned the other cheek, and even laid down His own life, also never missed an opportunity to call out those who opposed Him, especially in the religious community.
I don't think the two concepts are mutually exclusive...in other words, I forgive all who have said really horrible things to and about me concerning my telling the truth about my sexual orientation, but I also think that it's my responsibility to tell it like it is and shine a light on their hypocrisy and ignorance.
Jesus called the Pharisees "snakes and vipers" and "white-washed sepulchers filled with dead men's bones", but He also said to them (nearly in the same breath) "The Kingdom of God is within you"!
My examining the things in this chapter has as much to do with trying to figure out why people are so preoccupied with the personal lives of other people as it has to do with issues of sexual orientation in general.
Why can't Christians just let other Christians "work out their own salvation with fear and trembling"?
I graduated from a well-known Liberal Arts/Bible College...a university that was birthed out of one of the largest Pentecostal denominations in the world...and in all the years since I left there, I basically never heard from any of my class-mates regarding anything I did or said in over three decades.
I have maintained a handful of relationships from there in the 30 plus years since I finished my course of studies, but no one I went to school with attended either of my weddings, never commented when I had children, or when I left the denomination...no one acknowledged that I started a church which became one of the largest churches founded or pastored by anyone who graduated from there...certainly the largest of anyone I was friends with...since 1985 only three people I went to school with ever stopped by to see any of the buildings we built when Church In The Now was at the height of its success...I mean, with the exception of one friend who was my roommate my freshman year that I have maintained a close relationship with, I pretty much have never heard from anyone about anything in my life since 1980 when I graduated.
But, boy, when I came out, they were all over me and were suddenly more than chatty and extremely opinionated...hostile e-mails, open rebukes on the social networks, lengthy discussions about me on their personal pages...suddenly, after 32 years of total silence, they all decided to talk...to me and about me...a lot.
Again, I'm not complaining about it so much as I'm trying to understand it.
If I had been caught in a sex scandal with a woman, would I have heard from the other alumni about it?
If I had left the ministry, would they have an opinion about it?
Would they have been so vocal about anything else?
Why did it take me coming out to finally get some reaction out of them...some acknowledgment of anything about my life?
To all of my classmates who openly attacked me when I came out I would say, "Hey, guys...where have you been all my adult life, and when did it start mattering to you so much what I did?"
A very well-known, super-rich pastor of an Atlanta megachurch preached about me to his enormous congregation, and said that I was "a sign of the times"....evidence that "the very elect would be deceived in the last days".
With having absolutely no idea of what people like me have struggled with their entire life, he dismissed it as me being unable to ignore my perverted "feelings", even though I've been married twice and have lived my entire adult life in opposition to my nature.
Wow, thanks for the love, Pastor.
What I would say to him if I could would be: According to your eschatology (which I don't embrace) shouldn't you be happy that I'm a "sign of the times"?
Aren't you supposed to "comfort one another with these words" and "lift up your head because your redemption draws nigh"?
Instead of judging me, you should be praying for me, and should also be excited that Jesus is about to return!
And for the people who have told me anonymously online that I'm going to hell I would say, "Well, then...shouldn't that take care of it? If I'm going to hell anyway, there's really no purpose in writing pages and pages about me, is there?
Why not just let God take care of me, or deal with me as He sees fit in eternity?
And to the pastors who have "demanded" online that I step down from the pulpit I would say, "Who do you think you are? God called me to the ministry, and only God could remove me from it. I probably disagree with nearly everything you preach, but would never have the audacity to tell you to step down. Jesus is Lord, not me."
The main thing about the Christian anti-gay websites, however, is that I think there is a bigger problem with them, and that is that many of them are quite obviously dealing with their own sexual conflict in being so obsessed with someone else's sexuality.
I have read about tests that have been done on these kind of "God hates fags" kind of Bible-thumpers who are the first to be physically aroused by gay pornography when exposed to it, and it doesn't surprise me.
Time and time again I am reminded of Shakespeare's immortal line, "Methinks thou doest protest too much"! (a misquoted line from Hamlet which actually reads, "The lady doth protest too much, methinks." ) when I hear these guys preach their homophobic sermons or read their homophobic blogs.
However it's quoted or misquoted, the meaning of it is that when someone insists so passionately about something not being true or untrue that people suspect just the opposite of what that person is saying.
To make my point, it would be too easy to mention people here like John Paulk (no relation to my Uncle), Lonnie Latham, George Alan Rekers, or even Ted Haggard...just a few examples of men who have been outspoken opponents of gay rights, or have preached condemnation to people with same-sex attraction, who have been caught in gay sex scandals.
There are so many instances of that kind of thing happening that there is even an entire website devoted to exposing these guys called 'Evangelicals Who Hate Gay People but Love Gay Sex".
To further make my point I could refer to the brilliant HBO documentary Outrage, which tells story after story of politicians who, in the spirit of Roy Cohn (the man who worked for Joseph McCarthy in the 50's and exposed people for being gay but was gay himself and later died of AIDS) and J. Edgar Hoover, have made the lives of gay people miserable by their policies and unfair laws, but have been outed in even more gay sex scandals themselves.
There is definitely a pattern with these guys.
The ones who yell the loudest about it are generally the ones dealing the most with their own inner sexual conflicts
I would never out anyone myself, but I could even add some personal confirmation to this by saying that after coming out I have been privately contacted by men who say they have had sexual relationships with some of the very people who have been the most critical of me and have said some of the most hurtful things about me for admitting to my sexual orientation.
Some of them are people I know personally, but I choose to take the high road and not expose them for their hypocrisy...just trying to understand it...
What they say and do is between them and God, and God alone is my vindicator, so I refuse to take these matters into my own hands.
I only mentioned the names of some people here because what happened to them is public record.
I'm not exposing anyone or revealing new information in citing them as references.
I've been asked about Haggard and Bishop Eddie Long in nearly every interview I've done since coming out, and I've chosen to keep my opinions to myself about them. I did sort of discuss Haggard briefly on The Joy Behar show, but that was more in the vain of stating my disbelief in the effectiveness of any kind of conversion therapy.
Anyway, the bottom line is that no weapon formed against me will prosper, the gifts and calling of God are without repentance (irrevocable), and I have favor with God and man.
The GOOD NEWS is that the haters online have given me a lot of great publicity that has ultimately attracted many new people to my ministry (Thanks, guys!)...
And the GOOD NEWS is also that, at the end of the day, we will all stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ and give an account of and for our own lives...not the lives of others...and the GOOD NEWS is that we know that He is good and merciful and kind to all...it is not His will that any should perish!
So again I say, Father forgive them all.
And forgive me, too.
And help me unerstand why things are like they are.
And help me to believe that things can change for the better...that people can love one another unconditionally...that they (we) can learn to mind their (our) own business...to "owe no man anything but to love him"...and whatever they (we) don't understandand about one another, they (we) can just leave in the hands of God...that more than anything else we can all just Behold the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world.
The idea of living in that kind of world sounds like GOOD NEWS to me!