Darkness, Claustrophobia, and Leaving the Closet (That is, Redemption)

For those still languishing in the dark, afraid of what the daylight will bring.

I vividly remember that 15-year old high school kid facedown during worship, tears soaking the blue-speckled carpet beneath him, in anguish because his deepest secret made him unclean.

Unworthy.

Abomination.

Pervert.

Just a few of the words I had heard used to talk about people like me, a scalpel of rhetoric slowly,

painfully,

cutting away at my soul.

I remember that same kid four years later, kneeling at the foot of a cross, face soaked in despair, begging God to take this cup from him.

I hated who I was, but no one would have ever guessed.

For years I hid in the darkness, thinking it would protect me from the contempt and rejection I would be met with if I stepped into the light and allowed myself to be fully known. I thought the darkness was my protection, but I was wrong: it was the lie, the cancer that was eating away at my soul.

We are created by Love, meant to love and be loved.

Yet in the darkness, we are alone.

And that darkness you thought would keep you safe from the scorn of the world begins to close in around you. You try to reach out, but the walls of alienation close in, an impenetrable barrier to authentic connection.

The claustrophobia sets in, and though you struggle to breathe in the oppressive darkness of solitude, the fear of rejection if people knew who you truly are is greater than the discomfort of the closet, so there you stay, putting on a happy face for the world, while inwardly wasting away.

No more.

I am finished with the darkness, it is time to open that closet door and step into the light.

I am a gay Christian.

I love Jesus Christ as best I know how, and though I stumble, I choose daily to follow after him. I also am physically and emotionally attracted to men, not women.

There are many people in this world, Christians and non-Christians alike, who view this dual identity as a paradox, an impossibility. I understand completely the tension that is inherent between these two pieces of my identity, and it has been a journey more than a decade long to reconcile who I am in Christ with who I was made to love and be loved by.

Through many years of studying Scripture and research, days and nights of anguished prayers, conversations with many wiser than I, and a long-awaited courage to step out in faith for what I believe to be true, I have come to believe that God and the Bible are affirming of same-sex, covenant relationships; that the Body of Jesus Christ is big enough to include all of the queer community in the love and grace that comes from our Heavenly Father.

Almost two years ago I wrote in my journal:

I’m standing with one foot in the closet and one foot out.  And, like straddling two boats as they drift apart, it’s getting harder and harder to stay in that place… How can I move forward in my life, when this is clearly holding me back?… It’s scary. It’s difficult, but it must be done. I’ve stood on the precipice many times before, teetering over the edge, but too afraid to make that leap. Often though it is the leap into the unknown that lands us where we are meant to be. (25 February 2013)

I am making that leap, and it is putting me exactly where I am meant to be.

There is freedom in the light, redemption in vulnerability, and grace in love.

I could not be where I am today without the incredible blessings of the people that God has put into my life to walk this journey with me. Thank you so much to everyone who has loved me and supported me through this time, even if we did not agree. I especially want to thank my dearest friends. The one who was the first I allowed to see me for who I truly was, yet loved me the same though we were still young, and stuck by me to today. The one who stood by my side through the most tumultuous years of study and growing, never wavering in his fierce love and encouragement. The one who, though far away, walked with me through my darkest moments and probably knows me better than anyone. Thank you.

Finally, I have to thank the amazing people at the Gay Christian Network, especially my Cinnamon Waffle family! It is through the strength and stories of these people that I have had the courage to take this step forward in my faith and life, to live authentically and not be ashamed of who I am or who God made me to be. #GCNconf

Now at this point (if you made it this far, thank you!) I know many of you may find yourselves disagreeing with my conclusions, or just having questions about my journey and how I’ve come to believe God affirms same-sex covenant relationships and welcomes all members of the queer community into the Church. I will gladly dialogue with you, sharing my story, pointing you to resources that have helped me along the way. Also, over the next few weeks I will continue to blog through my journey, telling more of my story, what it was like growing up gay in the Church, and examining the Scriptural and theological basis for my conclusions. While I look forward to the discussions that will come out of this, my goal is not to change your beliefs, and so I would ask that you would do the same with me. I don’t need you to quote verses at me, or tell me I’m a sinner and I’m going to hell. Trust me, I’ve heard it all before. What I would like is the opportunity for us to understand one another, and for understanding to occur, respect needs to be present. Therefore, I pledge to be respectful of you and your beliefs, and I request that you would extend the same respect to me.

Walk with me on this journey of learning what it means to follow Jesus.

On the journey, Life
many steps ahead
Paths abound,
but which to tread?
To go left?
To go right?
Answers, which I yearn
Stumble on,
hope feet fall true

A hand reached out
A voice, dripped love
Place your hand in mine,
I know the way.”

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3 thoughts on “Darkness, Claustrophobia, and Leaving the Closet (That is, Redemption)

  1. I know we don’t really know each other, but I want to affirm your courage and honesty; even at a distance, it’s a blessing to me as a straight believer who wants to know how to best support the gay community. Sending you my love and gratitude, your “cousin” (Are we cousins? Truthfully I have no idea what our relation really is…), Malia (Bell) Clark

  2. There’s so much I want to write, but I’m on my teeny little phone keyboard Suffice it to say for now, thank you. This was so eloquently written and I look forward to reading more. And congratulations. You must feel a sense of freedom by this. 🙂

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