Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Waiting for Someday...

Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.” Psalm 27:14

Have you ever known someone who constantly says one day they’ll do this or that, or have this or that, or be this or that? You know the sort that’s always looking ahead at how they’d like their lives to be, rather than enjoying or accepting what they have and what they are in the here and now? Well, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m one of those people.

I’ve had a lot of things on my mind lately. I’ve been looking at my life and thinking about goals and dreams and looking back to see how far or how little I’ve traveled toward achieving those things. I have to say I haven’t traveled nearly as far as I’d have liked to, and I’m beginning to feel rather impatient about it. I’m tired of waiting.

When I went back to school, I only had two years to finish up. I kept telling myself it was such a short amount of time, and that once it was over I’d be able to find a better job. Four years later I’m out of school, graduated, but still no better job. I will probably not get a better job until the end of this school year, so I can really add another year to that four, which just equals more waiting. I’m getting very impatient about this (and this isn’t the only example I could give).

I know when I get that better job I might have enough money to get my own place, travel a bit, have summers off to write, and do quite a few other things as well. I keep thinking about these things and hoping for the day when I’ll be able to have them. I keep waiting for someday.

I know we don't always get what we want in life, and God’s timing isn’t always our own. I also know I can be happy without achieving all my wants. But it does get rather frustrating at times when it seems like progress in life is so slow that the snails are passing you by. And that’s how I feel anymore. My efforts aren’t enough, things aren’t progressing, and I’m just waiting…

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Harms and Benefits of Reparative Therapy: You Decide

People have differences of opinions. We hear those differences each day in our conversations with family, friends, coworkers, fellow churchgoers, strangers, and see it and hear it on television in the shows that we watch, in the news, and in speeches from our elected politicians. We each get it into our minds that one thing or another is more right than something else. We each look at certain thoughts or opinions of others to be more wrong than our own. We each like to believe that what holds us together in our thoughts and actions are right. This is true most of the time whether we actually are in the right or not. Most people don’t like to be wrong. This can inevitably cause a lot of heated exchanges between people. We get frustrated in our lack of understanding, or angry at the opposing views that just don’t make sense to us. But, do we have to have such heated exchanges in order to present our ideas or beliefs to others? No. If we get into such conversations, we can do so with a sense of civility. If we are willing to keep our hearts and minds open to the concerns of others, to actually listen and attempt to understand their views, and be respectful to them in this process, then such heated exchanges should not take place. And if they do take place, forgiveness can always be offered and asked for.

I like to understand. I don’t like being wrong about something. It is the very reason why I have changed my mind on so many things throughout my lifetime. And there have been a lot of things I have been wrong about (and will probably continue to be wrong about). I can admit that.

Having such a mindset, it doesn’t bother me to engage in debates or arguments with others (I do try to keep them as civil as possible though, because those sorts of exchanges are the best to learn from). When I do that, I’m not doing it in order to prove anyone wrong, or to set myself up as being right. I just want to know if I’m wrong so that I can stop promoting stupidity on my part. The reason I don’t like to be wrong about something, is because I know if I am wrong, that could have some influence on someone else and cause them to be wrong or hurt somehow. I’ve never liked the thought of leading someone astray. And so, at times, I test my thoughts by trying to better understand those who oppose me.

There are a lot of reasons to believe that reparative therapy is wrong. I can fully understand why so many people would say that it’s a very terrible thing and should never be used or promoted. If you read my last post carefully, you will see that it is not something I would ultimately promote as a best course of action for anyone struggling with their sexuality. There are alternatives that can help so much more in the grand scheme of things.

I know a lot of people have been hurt in some very drastic emotional and physical ways because of certain reparative therapy techniques. People have undergone electric shock treatments, hypnosis, been given drugs, and even experienced religious exorcizing to remove the demons that cause homosexuality. Some people have even been beaten or whipped, food deprived, and sleep deprived in attempts to rid them of their “wicked thoughts/ways”. There have been a lot of such abuses. And I would call all of these things abuses, because they really cannot do any good whatsoever for a person experiencing any sort of struggle with their sexuality. These only cause harm to a person’s emotional and physical well-being. That being the case, I would wholeheartedly agree that any of these forms of reparative therapy should be banned and never promoted in any fashion whatsoever. I would find it hard to believe anyone wishing to free themselves of homosexuality would ever consider or give much thought to these techniques anyway. Even if they did, they should be discouraged.

But, these are not the only forms of reparative therapy.

Some techniques simply involve helping homosexual men who feel different or cut off from straight men to realize that they are not that different. This can include teaching a sport to homosexual men who may never have engaged in sports before because they felt pushed away or not good enough to participate in any of them. And I can tell you, when a homosexual adult man or teen learns to play and realizes they can play just as good as any straight guy, maybe even better than some of those straight guys who called them weak or pussies, that can make all the difference in the world to them. It builds self-confidence, a sense of belonging, and that sense of acceptance for themselves as a valid person/man. And it can teach that man is not necessarily their “other”.

Another technique may be to help a very effeminate man to realize that his effeminacy does not make him less of a man. A lot of straight guys are effeminate. And so, to teach this, gender roles and how society looks at such roles (including the changing mindsets of such things over time) fairly or unfairly may be discussed. That effeminate gay teen may realize he is no less a man and not gay simply because he is effeminate. He may become more comfortable just being himself.

Some techniques simply involve helping a person to trust God, and to fully accept His will over their own. Sometimes it can be incredibly difficult to abstain from something you physically and/or emotionally want. So, learning to pray for strength, for a way out of certain situations, and learning to ask for forgiveness if you do fall, can help a person a whole lot.

And then there are personal pains. Everyone has them, but not everyone handles their pain in the same way. I personally believe I became gay not just by genetics, but also because of certain environmental influences. Reparative therapy can be focused on dealing with those environmental influences. If you believe you became gay, in part, because you were, in a sense, rejected by those of your own gender, or because you reacted wrongfully in certain ways to being physically or emotionally abused, or because you rejected your own gender or the roles defined to your gender for certain reasons, then there is probably going to be a great deal of pain associated with that. Certain reparative therapies simply work at helping a person to deal with that pain in better ways than maybe he or she did in the past.

Teaching in itself is a form of therapy. Teaching people to love themselves as God loves them. Teaching people better ways to resist sinning. Teaching people better, more healthier ways of relating to others. Teaching people to forgive. Teaching people that their past doesn’t have to define them. All of these things can be very good for a struggling person.

People have differences of opinions. And that is okay. Some people believe all reparative therapies should be banned. I do not. I think if allowing a person the opportunity to do something that they believe will help them to grow in their faith in God and be a better person, then that should be allowed (so long as they aren’t hurting others). Some people who have undergone reparative therapy has hated it and wished that they’d have never participated with it. Other people have undergone it and believed it was the best thing they ever could have done. Who is right and who is wrong? Can they both be right?

I said in my last post that I am stubborn at times. I know this is true about me. And it was very true concerning one issue a few years back. I believed it was a sin to be gay. I didn’t trust anyone who said otherwise. I didn’t change my beliefs until I sought out and underwent reparative therapy. I don’t say that because the therapy didn’t help me. I say that because a lot of the therapy did help me. It allowed me to see that I’m not as different as I thought I was. It allowed me to feel more comfortable in my own skin. It allowed me to deal with a lot of pain I’d kept bottled up for many years. It allowed me to grow in my Christian faith. And it allowed me to eventually come to a conclusion that God isn’t as concerned about my sexuality as He is having a relationship with me. It helped me to better understand.

I thank God for all those people who helped me. First and foremost, I thank my Exodus counselor, Paul. He was a friend, first and foremost. He was always willing just to listen and to let me make up my own mind. And when he did push me, he pushed me to worry more about healing from past pains, relating better to others, and building my faith than on trying to change my sexuality. He was honest enough up front to tell me up front that even though it was possible for my sexuality to change, there was no guarantee that it would.

This was my experience with reparative therapy. And this is why I think it would be very bad not to allow people an opportunity to change. We allow people to try to change nearly whatever else they dislike about themselves, from hair and eye color, to the shape of their teeth and facial features, to weight, and so forth. And on some of those things, people realize, over time, that what they had to begin with really was best. The brunette trying to be a blond may decide after a few years that being a brunette really is what’s best for them. But how would that person know if they’d never tried being something else? If they’d never tried, they may have at the very least always had it in the back of their mind what could have been. I think it is the same for people who wish to change their sexuality. And what is worse, to allow people an opportunity to change something they dislike about themselves, something that may be very emotionally devastating to them for one reason or another, or to try to force them to accept something about themselves that they may just never be able to fully accept? I think it is better to let them make up their own minds. Let them try if that’s what they think is best for them. If it turns out to be something they like, then that should be looked at as great for them. If it turns out to be something they don’t like, then they can then work to accept how they are and realize their lives can still be good.

Looking back, I know I wouldn’t have been able to accept my homosexuality had I not first sought out help to no longer be homosexual. I really don’t think anyone could have helped me to accept that fact in any other way. I had to go through what I did to reach that conclusion on my own. And I know it is the same for many others. I also know that a lot of others have undergone reparative therapies and have liked whatever changes they have experienced (even if it means they only live as a heterosexual and do not actually become one). These are the reasons why I believe reparative therapies should continue to be allowed. Can they produce harm? Yes. I think in the wrong hands, just about anything can produce harm though. But can they produce something good? Yes.

People have differences of opinions. If a person wants to attempt to undergo reparative therapy, then I think they should be allowed to. This doesn’t mean that we should promote or encourage those techniques that have been used in the past and that have been proven very dangerous though. Nor does it mean we shouldn’t continue to try to show them there is a better way, and that it really is okay if they are attracted to members of the same sex. But if a person thinks changing his or her sexuality will improve their life somehow, then I think it really should be their decision to make. In time, their decision to attempt sexual orientation change will either be proven right, or they will prove themselves wrong. Either way, they should learn what is best for them.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Reparative Therapy

In my last post, I brought up the issue of anti-reparative therapy laws. After much thought, I decided it might be helpful to discuss my thoughts on the matter of reparative therapy a bit more thoroughly.

First off, what is reparative therapy? Reparative therapy (also known as conversion therapy) is treatment designed to help a person change their sexual orientation from homosexual or bisexual to heterosexual. Over the years, many Christian organizations, including Exodus International, have promoted reparative therapies in order to help a person struggling with their non-heterosexual desires and attractions to live a more Godly life. The idea is that God did not plan for anyone to be gay. That being the case, these therapies are designed to help you become as God intended: heterosexual.

As I mentioned in my last post, and as many of you know from reading this blog over the years, I have in the past undergone such therapy to help me change my sexual orientation from gay to straight. This mostly consisted of counseling, reading a bunch of literature on the subject, and trying out certain practices to change my mannerisms and behaviors and the way I relate to others, both male and female. Even though I learned a lot about myself in that process and did find some small level of decrease in my attractions to other men, I was never able to fully lose those attractions or become more attracted to women. My sexual orientation did not change.

Now, could it have changed? Yes. I think with God, anything is possible. God could have helped change my sexual orientation. But He didn’t. And the fact that He didn’t was proof enough for me that God is not overly concerned with who I’d like to share a bed with, so much as what sort of relationship I have with Him. I learned over time that being gay is not a sin, and is nothing that I should ever feel bad about.

Now that I’ve said “being gay is not a sin”, I should clarify what I consider “being gay” to mean, because I know even in this regard people have different definitions. To me, if someone says they are gay that ONLY means that they find people of the same sex sexually attractive. It does not mean that they sleep with (or have sex with) people of the same sex, nor does it mean they are atheist, drag queens, immoral, hedonistic, have rejected their sexual identity, or anything else. It ONLY means that they find people of the same sex sexually attractive. All of those other things are issues unto themselves. That being the case, I say again that being gay is not a sin. God does not have a problem with one man finding another man sexually attractive, or one woman finding another woman sexually attractive. God does not fault us for any temptations we may have. If we are faulted for anything, it is our actions. And even that, for two men (or two women) to love each other and be committed to each other in a sexual relationship, I’m not so sure anymore is something that God really has a problem with (we can discuss this at a later time).

I gave up trying to change my sexuality a long while back, and I did that because I just did not feel that it was working, and because I did not think it really mattered to God if I was gay or straight. But did this fight ever matter to me? Yes. It mattered more than anything. Why, you might ask? It mattered because deep down I knew that being gay meant that I was different. I knew the majority of people are not gay, and I thought wrongly that if God had wanted people to be gay, then many more people would be. I also thought, based on my own interpretations of the bible and those that I heard regularly at church, that being gay (not just when it came to actions, but to thoughts and temptations as well) was morally wrong. I heard people talk about gays going to hell and God hating gays, and I took that very personally. So much so that I thought God must really hate me, that there was no hope for me, that I was some sort of freak, and that if anyone ever knew the truth about me, they’d hate me and reject me as well.

Was I right, and were the people who told me such things or implied such things right? No. And should I have had to seek out treatment, believing I’d be more Godly if I were straight? No, I shouldn’t have. However, the damage was done. And this damage, as I said, was not solely brought on by others. A lot of it I brought upon myself. I put a lot of those chains around my neck and weighted myself down. I was prideful and embarrassed to admit I was gay. I was scared of how others would react. I thought if my parents knew they’d get all angry or depressed at the thought of me never marrying and having kids. In a nutshell, I worried too much about what others think, or would think. And I let that influence me negatively. It didn’t help, either, that I knew no one who was gay or who I thought would understand that I could talk to about it. And I know, in some instances, this caused me to believe in some of the stereotypes that you see on TV and in the movies. I thought I didn’t have much choice but to become like what I saw in media, and I didn’t want that. I had no role model or person to guide me at all. And so I became lost.

With everything that happened to me and that I went through, and knowing that it still can and does happen to others, I believe reparative therapies should not be completely banned. I believe they should be voluntary, but that they should continue to help people faced with similar problems. I believe this because when I first sought out help from Exodus, it was not so that I could learn to be a better human being or anything like that. I simply wanted someone or something to help me to no longer be gay. I received help in this area, but I was also taught by my counselor from Exodus that being straight should not be my goal. He told me this up front. He also helped me realize it was no sin to be attracted to other men, that gay sin was no worse than any other sin, and that if God could love all of those other sinners, surely He could continue to love me too. I thank Paul for teaching me these things, because they proved to mean more to me and be more helpful to me than any of that other stuff. But I know, looking back, I may not have believed Paul about these things had he not also offered to help me change my sexual orientation. At the time, that was what meant the most.

This last summer, Exodus International made a fairly big change. Alan Chambers, the president of Exodus International, announced that the organization would no longer support or promote reparative therapy. Their goal has changed from promoting a change in sexuality, to simply promoting a Godly lifestyle and a relationship with God in faith, whether gay or straight. This may sound too much like what they promoted before, but really it isn’t. There is that fine line distinction that makes the whole thing different. No longer will they advocate sexual orientation change as a part of living a life pleasing to God. What this means is that they now teach it is okay if you find people of the same sex sexually attractive. They have finally recognized that being gay is not a sin (for more about Exodus’ recent change, read this).

I think this new direction for Exodus is an important one. It’s important because it is more biblically based. Nowhere in any of the bible is it stated that being gay is a sin. Nowhere is it stated that if you are gay, you should become straight. And rather than focusing mostly on trying to help people become straight, they are going to do more to help people, whether gay or straight, find a relationship with God. This last thing I think is most important, because in this change, Exodus can now position itself as a true olive branch between the Church and those who have turned away from it or been hurt by it because of their sexuality. Exodus can now promote the truth that whether you are gay or straight, it doesn’t matter, anyone can begin a relationship with God, become saved in the faith and grace of His son, Jesus Christ, and can ultimately have forgiveness of their sins. They can also promote a better way for churches and ministers to reach out to those affected by homosexuality. I personally believe this will have a far better impact on the Church and in reaching out to bring homosexuals to Christ, than anything they were doing before.

But, if reparative therapy is no longer going to be offered or supported by them, how will those seeking that sort of help find it? As I’ve said, I do not believe reparative therapy should be banned or completely done away with. However, I do not believe reparative therapy is the best way to go for anyone struggling with their sexuality.

The best we can do is to reach out to our fellow LGBT neighbors, friends, family, and strangers with love and kindness. Truth is always best revealed when it is presented in love. If we in the church and as a society taught that it was okay to be gay, and that you could still be gay and be a Christian, and treat these people as we would want to be treated ourselves, then we might honestly begin to see a new dawn when Christians and homosexuals no longer view each other as enemies (at least to the degree that so many do today), but rather as friends—even if they do disagree from time to time. Instead of teaching people that they’re going to hell for being different, or pushing them out of the church, or fighting against them in any number of the ways that they have been fought, it would be far more beneficial for everyone involved using the sort of outreach Jesus himself modeled for us. Instead of hate, we love. Instead of pushing away, we welcome. Instead of lying, we tell the truth.

Now, I’m not saying that it’s okay to be gay and go around sleeping with everyone. Being sexually active outside of marriage, however it happens, is still sinful. It’s okay to be gay, but you can be gay and still sin sexually, just as any heterosexual can sin sexually. Both can be forgiven though. And whether a person is sinning sexually or in some other way, that shouldn’t keep us from responding to them as Christ would have.

So, where does all of this leave reparative therapy? My hope is that at some point, it can completely be a thing of the past, with no need for existence. I would hope that the church would open its arms and become a much more welcoming, less judgmental place. I would hope that parents would realize that even if their children grow up to be gay, that doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with them and it’s the end of the world. They’re still their child and they’re still worthy of their love and respect, and their lives can still be worthwhile and pleasing to God. I would hope that society in general would become less judgmental, and that people would particularly come to realize how negative some of their comments and actions can be sometimes. And, above all, I would hope that whenever a person is bothered, for whatever reason, by being gay, that they could learn to accept themselves and find help readily available to them whenever they should need it. I’d recommend a kind voice, an offer of friendship and support, and a good old fashioned hug to begin with.

But if these things never happen for a person, and if their entire hope rests upon the idea of becoming straight to improve their condition in life, then I would also hope that somebody would be willing to offer them the type of help that they want. Whether you think they are right or wrong for wanting that sort of help, it may not matter if offering it is the only way you can even begin to help them to see that there is a better way. Some people, such as I was, may just be too stubborn to believe any alternatives upfront. And so you have to work with them from where they’re at. From there, you can show them a better way.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Anti-Reparative Therapy Laws

Should parents be banned from forcing or allowing their kids to undergo reparative therapy to “cure” homosexuality?

Many LGBT friendly groups have recently attempted to push through legislation that would do just that. I understand their thoughts behind it, but I think there is a fine line between looking after the best interests of a child from a societal viewpoint (parents can’t physically abuse their children), and looking after the best interests of a child from a parental viewpoint (children can’t stay out past 9pm).

People tend to have very different beliefs when it comes to raising kids. Some parents believe it is okay to spank their children, others don’t. Some parents believe in taking their children to church with them to pass on their religious beliefs, others don’t. Some parents believe in making their children work for their first car, others don’t. And the list could go on and on.

When it comes to sexuality, I understand full well why some parents would want their children to undergo reparative therapy, but I also understand why many people would believe that to be emotionally, as well as perhaps physically (in some cases) abusive to a child. Parents who are religious may simply want to help their child/children from growing up and engaging in sexual activities that they believe are sinful and/or harmful to them. Others may view sexuality so concretely that teaching anything other than full acceptance is harmful.

My personal belief is that reparative therapy should be allowed, but that children should never be forced to undergo it.

I think back to when I was younger, in middle school and high school days, and wishing so much that I wasn’t gay. I wanted a cure. I wanted something, anything, to help take away those feelings. Not knowing of anything like that, and wanting to adhere to my religious beliefs more than any physical and emotional wants, it was devastating to me thinking that there was no cure, or no way to fight. I thought I had no choice but to be gay.

At that time, I know that accepting my sexuality for what it is would have in no way made me feel better about myself. I’m okay now, but at the time, I needed some hope that I didn’t have to be gay, because in my eyes, that just wasn’t an option. And I do believe that that was a big reason for why I felt so suicidal there in my late teens and early twenties. I felt I had no choice but to be something that I so desperately did not want to be. I didn’t stop feeling suicidal and start realizing that my attractions to other men were okay, and to accept myself, until I sought out help from Exodus International, a place specializing in reparative therapy.

Did it help me to seek treatment? Yes, it did. Should I have had to seek treatment? No, probably not. Was it my choice to seek treatment? Yes. Could I have found help in some other way, perhaps even a better way? Probably. Should a person, at any age, be forced to undergo reparative therapy? No. And I say no to that last question because it can do no good whatsoever to a person who doesn’t want it. But if a person wants to try and believes it is what is best for them, then it can be a great source of hope and should be allowed.

It doesn’t matter if you agree or disagree with the merits of reparative therapy. That doesn’t really matter. You could still argue for a better way. What does matter is that if this type of therapy actually does in some way help some people, to make them feel better about who they are, then why would you purposefully want to deny them that? What good would that do a person who has a mindset so firmly opposed to living as a homosexual? None.

Based on all of this, I think it wise to allow reparative therapy to continue. I will never agree with any law that would totally ban it. However, I would stipulate that if it does continue, it should only ever be completely voluntary. A law promoting the use of reparative therapy only in this matter, I would agree with.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Ron's Been Busy

Being the Harry Potter fan that I am, I couldn’t help but find this to be both highly offensive, as well as incredibly funny. :)

Friday, August 17, 2012

This is for Eric (200th Post)

One thing I’ve always hoped my blog would be is a source of help, hope, and learning for others. I’ve always thought that if people could see the journey I’ve been on and how I’ve responded (both positively and negatively) to the issues I’ve faced in life, then they might find some sense of comfort, understanding, compassion, or hope in their own journeys, and in dealing with others facing similar situations.

With that in mind, I thought it fitting to share Eric’s video (above) with all of you. Here is a man, just 28 years old, dying from leukemia. For the last few years he has been chronicling his battle with that disease online. He has brought much awareness to what all a person with leukemia goes through, and has even raised money to help others who are going through it as well.

I can’t imagine the sort of emotions he is facing right now. Stress, worry, fear, panic, anger, frustration… what else? Hopelessness? Maybe a growing sense of peace?

When I think of dying, fear is usually one of the first things I think about. I fear death. I fear it because I don’t know what will happen. As a Christian, I believe I’ll go to Heaven and be with God and family and friends. But even in believing these things, death is something that frightens me. There are things I want to be able to experience in this world before I die. There are people I don’t want to feel sad or to be burdened by me no longer living. I wonder if it will hurt, or if I’ll know what is happening when it happens. Or if I’ll even be able to be brave about it. And then I have to admit that I also worry about being wrong. What if there really is no God and no Heaven, and once this life is gone, that’s it? That in the end, all that we are is lost in a single moment.

I like being planned and knowing, or at least being able to anticipate, what is going to happen. Death doesn’t exactly cooperate with me in that. I don’t know when I will die. And I don’t know how it will happen. I don’t even know what exactly will happen when it happens. It is all just an unknown. And even though it is certainly a part of life—to someday die—it is still something which I think most of us would agree we do not look forward to. Most of us would rather live. But when you know you are about to die, that must be incredibly difficult; especially when you are young, knowing there is so much more to life that you could experience, but won’t.

My heart aches for Eric. I know sometimes I get really down because of some of the things I’ve gone through/go through, but none of that is comparable to what Eric has faced. He has battled his illness for years, and now it is finally claiming his life. I wish he could get better. I’m going to be praying for him to get better, somehow. But if he doesn’t, I know the matter is in God’s hands. I believe firmly that everything happens for a reason. We may not always know what that reason is, but I believe God is at work in all things that we do and in all that happens to us. He can use anything bad of this world and transform it into something so good that it is beyond anything we could ever imagine. I just hope He will grant Eric some level of peace, hope, and understanding, and that he will know how his living has made a positive impact on others.

Please all of you pray for Eric and his family. I’d say they could really use our prayers right now.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Not a Disease

I’ve never very much cared for the notion that homosexuality is a disorder, or disease. I know a lot in the ex-gay community like to hold to an idea that, well, maybe not that homosexuality is a disease, but that it is certainly something to be cured from. And I know I have touted such thoughts before, but it is one that I disagree with now.

I don’t think homosexuality is something to be cured of, anymore than having brown eyes instead of blue eyes is something to be cured of. I think if a person is homosexual, then that is just what they are. It is certainly possible that God could change a person’s sexuality, but considering all the people who have earnestly tried for that and found no change in their sexuality, I believe even God must find such a change irrelevant. Being gay or straight doesn’t matter as much as following God, and nowhere in the bible is there a commandment for everyone to be straight.  Being gay is no sin.

We are all different in one way or another. Some of us are more different than others, but I think that is okay. Being gay should not be an issue. If anything should be an issue, it should simply be to resist (or at the very least try to resist) acting on temptations to commit sexual sins, as well as to build upon your faith and to allow Jesus to actually be the Lord and Savior of your life. This is relevant for all people, whether gay or straight, and I’d dare say a whole lot more important to God than who or what you are sexually attracted to.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Adele and A Few Good Deeds

I know I'm a little late to the party, probably, but I have officially become a fan of Adele.  Not only is the woman a very talented musician, but her music videos are really good as well.  I love what this particular video represents, in that it shows how contagious doing good deeds can be (if only we allow them to be).

I might also state my belief that Adele should definitely be chosen to do the theme song for the upcoming James Bond movie, Skyfall, which I'm bursting at the seams to see.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Oh, Temptation...

Well, that's usually how temptation works, but it's usually not so obvious.  :)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Signs of God

Yeah! Why is that?

Sometimes I think we don’t do a good enough job pointing out to others how God is involved in our lives. Maybe we get too busy to witness or we just forget to. Maybe we get too afraid of what others will think or forget the importance of it. But God is involved in our lives, especially if we ask Him to be. And we can find evidence of God all around us, if only we try.

Looking back on my life, I can see so clearly how God was involved. I see how He pushed me to do things I didn’t really want to do, and to not do a few things that I really wanted to do. I saw Him answer many prayers, and in ways and to the point that goes far beyond coincidence. I’ve felt His presence with me whenever I’ve sought Him out—especially in those low moments or those of rejoicing. I’ve seen Him open doors for me through opportunities that should have been closed off. I’ve seen Him heal people from illnesses that doctors said couldn’t be healed from. Every spring when the flowers bloom and the leaves grow back, I see His spark of life throughout all of nature. I’ve seen Him do a lot.

I like the movie Signs, and I’ll mention it here because it illustrates very well the way God tends to work in our lives. I’d recommend anyone reading to watch it just to get the idea. We don’t often get that big booming voice from the heavens, or a burning bush. But, if we look, we can find signs or evidence of God all around us.

Around 2001/2 I was very unhappy with my life. I needed help and couldn’t find it. I prayed and didn’t seem to get any answers. And I felt alone in everything. It was the worst time in my life.

I used to drive back and forth to school in the next county, and I remember having the thought that I should just drive my car off the road where this little valley lies. I wanted to die, because I felt so bad and hopeless. I thought that doing it that way would be the most preferable. I’d just cut off before the guardrail, fly through the air, and whenever the car crashed, that would be the end in one quick moment.

I built up my courage one day to do it. I was coming back from school, the day had been just another nightmare, I was crying my eyes out, and I decided it was time. I was driving about sixty miles per hour, drove onto the side lane, hit the rough, saw the valley ahead of me, and at the last moment, my car just seemed to drift back over onto the main road. It felt like it happened all on its own, whenever it mattered less to me, and whenever it should have physically been too late to stop. I know with all of my being that I did not stop my car from going off that cliff. And afterward, I just had this really strong feeling come over me to keep going, as if I was being told to. The next few months, a lot of things began to get better. I just kept thinking, keep going. And that helped.

I believe this was a sign of God. It was a miracle.

Some signs maybe aren’t that profound though. But I know God has been a part of my life. He’s talked to me in dreams that felt more real than any others. He’s given me thoughts or new understandings that directly conflicted with previous ones. He’s placed friends in my life at just the right times when I needed them the most… He’s just done so much.

And so now, I ask you to think back upon your own lives. What signs have you had from God? How has God worked in your lives? What has He done for you or others?

Monday, August 6, 2012

A Sincere Apology

I agree. For any occasion in which I've ever acted less than Christlike to anyone, I apologize from the bottom of my heart. I apologize, also, for any of the wrongdoing or acts of hatred committed by other Christians in the name of Christ. We have done a disservice to you, to Christ, and to ourselves in having acted in such a way. Christ was welcoming, humble, loving, respectful, forgiving, honest, and dignified in His approach to people. You should expect nothing less from those who claim to follow Him.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Chick-fil-A, Not Gay... But that's Okay

I feel like I have to say something concerning the whole Dan Cathy, Chick-fil-A fiasco going on, and I’ll apologize ahead of time if this turns into a complete rant.

Apparently, at some point, Dan Cathy, the owner of fast food chicken restaurant, Chick-fil-A, made some comments opposing same-sex marriage, lacing his comment with certain religious contexts or basis. He also, reportedly, contributed money to certain organizations who speak out against same sex marriage. Since doing so, those opposing his beliefs (those in favor of same-sex marriage) have created an all out fire storm against this guy. Big city mayors, such as Rham Emanuel, and other politicians, have supported boycotting his company, and even resorted to personal attacks against him. Some citizens have even verbally harassed his employees, including those gay employees whom Mr. Cathy apparently had no problem hiring to work for him.

To begin with, as a gay man, I have no problem whatsoever with Dan Cathy having his own opinion, being vocal about it, and spending his own money to promote those with similar ideas (Exodus International supposedly being one of those groups, and a group that actually does, believe it or not, help many gay men and women every year—myself being one such person, even though I disagree with some of their stances). So he believes marriage should only be between one man and one woman. So what? Who didn’t believe that twenty years ago? Most Christians, as Dan Cathy is, still believe this. Most Americans still believe this.


I get so annoyed by the hypocrisy of others in situations like this. I can’t stand it when people want free speech to assert their positions/beliefs, but will then do everything in their power to shut up the opposition. I’m sorry liberals, but in this case, I think you are wrong. Mr. Cathy should have every right to say what he thinks and to spend his money as he sees fit. That doesn’t mean that you have to like it. It also doesn’t mean that you have to support him or his business; you don’t have to buy his food! And, as a politician, if you are publicly speaking out against him, sorry, but that means you are crossing the line of your beloved separation of church and state, by discriminating against him and his beliefs. Furthermore, WE THE PEOPLE do have in this country a little thing called free speech. And as long as we have this right, Mr. Cathy is right, so far as in his actions and beliefs in this matter. Sorry, but that’s just how it is. Get over it and move on.

Now, concerning the whole thing, I personally believe that we should allow same-sex marriages in this country. I believe that because we also allow religious freedom in this country and because I recognize that there are already two separate kinds of marriages that we allow. One is marriage with religious contexts, and the other is a purely secular marriage. We do allow nonreligious people in this country to get married. That being the case, it seems as though we would also allow same-sex couples to marry. We should not impose our religious beliefs on others. In this case, Mr. Cathy may be somewhat wrong, by his funding groups that do work to prohibit same-sex marriages.

However, religion does play a role in the whole controversy surrounding Mr. Cathy. I really do not believe he did what he did because he hates gays. On the contrary, I think he did it because he loves his faith, and wanted to stand up for what he thinks is right according to that faith. It is the same reason why I have opposed certain gay friendly measures before. As a Christian, traditional teaching opposes homosexual relationships. It also opposes marriage as being anything other than a one man, one woman relationship. So, as I see it, Mr. Cathy was simply expressing his religious beliefs. And, again, so long as we have religious freedom in this country, Mr. Cathy is in the right.

Now, please don’t get me wrong. I feel as if I’ll end up getting a fire storm myself for not being ultra-politically correct on my wording of things here. I’m not saying that freedom of religion and speech make Mr. Cathy’s viewpoints right. What I’m saying is that, whether he is right or wrong about his beliefs, he does have a right, and is in the right, to be vocal about his beliefs.

Sorry liberals, but the Constitution has not yet been thrown out the window. Until you’ve had your way with that, you’ll just have to accept that if you get the right to be heard, then so do those who oppose you.