Monday, May 18, 2009

A Work in Progress--Stop the Hatred!

I dedicate this post to the memory of Matthew Shepard, and to the family and friends he left behind. I pray his story is never forgotten.

Lately I’ve felt very hopeful about life. For the first time in a really long time, I feel as though my life is going in a really good direction. And I feel as though I’m letting go of some of my past. I’ve been able to shake off some of those old wounds and some of the things preventing me from moving forward, and I’ve been able to accomplish a lot of things I doubted I would ever be able to accomplish. I feel free. And I have God to thank for all of this.

Sometimes I have a hard time understanding God. There are times when I feel so close to Him, as though he’s a part of my every being. Other times, I feel as though He’s a stranger I only barely knew, but who no longer comes around. I wonder why He continues to be so good to me. I’ve done so many things against Him. I think that’s part of the beauty of God. He’s always working on me, always with me, always paving a way for my life, even if I don’t recognize it. He always loves me.

I am a sinner. I sin in some way or another probably every single day. Sometimes I sin intentionally, and sometimes it’s unintentional. Regardless, I sin. But God still loves me.

I don’t understand people who claim that God hates. Most of you who regularly read my blog know that I am gay. I am sexually attracted to other men. I try hard not to act upon my attractions, because I am a Christian and I believe homosexual activity is sinful. But I will admit, sometimes I do act on those attractions.

Some people in the church would say that my sins are worse than the sins of others. They look down on homosexuals and treat us with a certain air of disgust or unconcern. I don’t understand people like this. I don’t understand how someone can claim to be a Christian but believe some people are better than others, and believe that some aren’t worth saving or knowing, or worth the love of God. It bothers me greatly whenever I hear somebody say “God hates fags”. That statement is a lie and demeaning in so many ways. It is equally demeaning to hear phrases like “That’s so gay” or “What a fag”. I believe Christians should know better. Everyone sins. No sin is worse than another. True, some may have greater consequences than others, but all are equally offensive to God. But despite that, God loves us. How do I know this? Because he came to earth in the form of Jesus Christ and died for each and every one of us so that we may not perish on account of our sins. God took the punishment upon himself that we each should rightfully bear on our own. He didn’t do this for only a select few sinners. He did this for every sinner. What greater message of love could there be? And what right does any of us have to deny anyone the experience of knowing that love? As Christians, we should never be exclusionary of anyone. We should strive to love every single person of the world in the same fashion that Jesus loves. We should reach out to them, befriend them, and help bring them into the fold. And oh what a difference we could make if we would all do that!

It also bothers me to see Christians stand on the sidelines when others belittle or mistreat people. Too often I’ve seen fellow Christians do nothing to help the person being mistreated. There is no excuse for this. Now, I’m not tooting my own horn here, because I have certainly been guilty of this myself, and I pray God forgives me for this, but we should never allow our fears or prejudices keep us from doing what is right. No one deserves to be abused. When we Christians see that happening to someone, we should do everything in our power to help stop that abuse. If we do nothing, we send the message that we condone what is being done. What a horrible message to send to the world! We should be teaching ourselves and others to stop this sort of thing, and to speak out against it whenever we see it happening.

I feel sorry for people who hate. They wreck their own lives and the lives of others through their hatred. And what good is that? A young man in Wyoming named Matthew Shepard was beaten to death a few years ago because he was gay. I wonder why? What fuels that sort of hatred in a person that they would take someone out to the middle of nowhere, tie them to a fence, beat them within an inch of their life, and then leave them for dead? I don’t understand something like that. I don’t understand how someone could allow their hatred for something to build so much that they would brutally attack and kill a person like that. I don’t know if Matthew felt as I do, but I don’t look at myself only as being gay. There is so much more to who I am than what gender I find sexually attractive. I am also a son, a brother, a grandson, a nephew, an uncle, a friend, a Christian, a teacher, a writer, an environmentalist, and so many other things. My identity is not solely wrapped around the one thing that so many people seem to hate. When you kill or abuse a person out of hatred, know that there is more to that person than just the thing you hate. And know that despite your hatred for the person, there are others who love them. Know the loss and the sorrow that you cause them because of your actions.

I support hate crimes legislation for homosexuals. I haven’t always, but as I’ve aged and developed in my faith, I see no reason in the world now not to support it. I do believe the legislation should be written fairly and just, however, protecting the rights of everybody involved. I say this because some pieces of past suggested legislation has been written in a way that would punish a person because they believe homosexuality is wrong. I believe a person can believe this without hating or committing acts of violence, and should be allowed to express their beliefs if they choose. I don’t believe that in particular is criminal in nature so long as it doesn’t lead to harassment or the demeaning of an individual. Regardless, when so many people do hate homosexuals and do discriminate or commit acts of violence against homosexuals because of their hatred, I believe homosexuals should be allowed protection under the law.

As I mentioned earlier, I know there are some people, both Christian and not, who would hate me, or at least dislike me, because of my attractions to other men. I also know, however, how very much God loves me and is constantly working in my life to make me a better person and to lead me to a better place in life. I wish others would recognize this before condemning a person. We are all sinners, but we are all loved by God, can be saved, and have the potential to do so many great things in our lives and in the lives of others around us for the glory of God. When you hate a person, you potentially keep them from realizing these things.

Yes, I am a sinner, but I am also a work in progress, I have value as a human being, and I am loved by God.

10 comments:

Pomoprophet said...

I think its par for the course with God... to feel up and down. Because He's so perfect we can't fathom it.

All I know is His mercies are new every morning!

Brandon said...

Amen to that!

Jeff S. said...

Well-stated. There is no place for hate with a Christian except against evil and the Enemy.

Tit for Tat said...

Unfortunately your belief system(faith in Christianity, ensures that you will continue to hate yourself. And because of that system there will be plenty of people(who think homosexuality is a sin) to ensure that Gay men like Matthew Sheppard die horrible deaths. Lets hope you dont make their list.

Brandon said...

Tit for Tat,

I think that's probably the most boundless statement you've made on my blog yet. As a Christian, I am not called to hate, but to love. That was part of the meaning of this particular post. And I do not hate myself.

I look at homosexuality as a fire. Yeah, it may look warm and appealing--maybe even a little mesmerizing--but rest assured, you jump into the middle of it and you're going to get burned. As Christians, we shouldn't condemn or belittle people for wanting to jump into the fire (or sin), but only lovingly warn them of the consequences of doing so and to show them a better alternative. I think a lot of Christians don't fully understand this. But that doesn't mean Christians are to blame for all the world's problems. There are plenty of non-Christians doing their part to destroy the world.

Tit for Tat said...

Brandon

As an American you should take a good hard look at who is the driving force for discrimination against Homosexuals. It is the religious, with the front running Christians barking the most. You may not "Hate" all of yourself, but after reading much of your material it is plain you are very "conflicted" with who you were made to be. And if that aint bordering on hating yourself, I dont know what is.

Rinaldo said...

Hi Brandon,
I live in Australia where the hate crimes against homosexuality are just as prevelant. As a christian I know that we are battling flesh always because it is a sinful nature that we inhabit. Sure the Lord wants us to be free of anything that will take us away from being totally His, but Satan's role has been and always will be to destroy us and tempt us where our weaknesses are. I've said for many years now that "where the mind goes the flesh follows!" We will always battle with something in this life but Jesus is our mediator and because He is the perfect high priest He has become the perfect son, both humanly and spiritually therefore reaches Gods standard of perfection for us, so as we trust and our faith remains in Him we are under His superior covenant and looked upon as forgiven, redeemed and renewed by Jesus' full obedience. There is nothing more we can do as Christians, its all been done for us. Now we all fall short of His glory, whether we lie, steal, murder or fall into a momentary lapse of reason, we are forgiven as we repent with a true believing heart. As for our brothers and sisters that still continue to judge one another and obsess over which sin is worse than another, they are in bondage!
It comes from a lack of maturity in knowing the word of God and who He is. His love is all consuming and our God is a jealous God.
I know there are lots of Christians that would say well if you can still sin in that area of your life well your not a Christian. It is the same in any sin - we are still subject to temptation and have to resist to the point of shedding blood Hebrews says. I don't think that there are many that have conquered all areas of sin in their life. we certainly can take on the weaker areas of sin but those that are the strongest in our lives are harder to conquer. We walk daily some of us hourly!
I believe as long as we are for Him and do not deny Him and serve him with all our heart our mind our soul and our strength, thats what is required. We do not perform miracles, that is Gods department. I know that a miracle is an instantaeneous demonstration of Gods power, but healing takes time.
God Bless you and continue on!
If God is for you! Who can be against you?
Sorry about the misspells...

A. Friend said...

Tit for Tat,
Who "we" were "made to be" is outlined in the Bible.

Outside of that framework we were not "made" but simply "occurred"--which is fine to believe. Even then, however, whatever Brandon chooses to do with his sexuality is valid.

Michael said...

Brandon,

your closing comment:

Yes, I am a sinner, but I am also a work in progress, I have value as a human being, and I am loved by God.

Is true of all of us, we are a continuing work in progress. Like you I have lived the life of one who has SSA. However, in this walk of purity (moreover, should I say a walk towards Purity) the road has often been rocky, bumpy, saddening, to say the least.

But we do have a Lord and savior that has forgiven us in our weaknesses, and continues to. For me I have learned and am still learning that it is a continual walk towards holiness, and with that focusing forward, the SSA has diminished to the point in which my victory rate far out-paces my failures.

Our sin is no more, no less, than any others. Sin is Sin. I know that this is difficult for others sometimes to see. It is because they themselves are sinners and wish to cast judgment, before they themselves are judged.

If I can give you anything, it would be encouragement to know that you are going in the right direction, and your thoughts and habits may change as you continue to grow in the Lord. Your Blog is aptly titled, this is a whirlwind journey, and I am glad that Jesus loves me and promised to NEVER leave me nor forsake me.

God Bless Brother!
Michael

Brandon said...

Rinaldo and Michael,

Thank you both for your comments--very encouraging. I wish you both the very best in your own journeys as well. God bless and take care. :)