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o, I decided to share with you some of the common responses I give to people, so you might be able to learn and grow from them as I have. Perhaps, these are situations and problems you are having, and my advice, wisdom, and information can assist you in making the right positive, healthy, and responsible choices and decisions.
My wisdom and advice my be just what you seek and need, my answers may surprise or shock you, they might unsettle you, you might refuse to believe what I say and recommend at first (but with time learn and see my point), or I may even upset and anger you. Whether to you who are supportive, you who have troubles, or you who don't understand or oppose: I electronically wash your feet.
Peace and Hugs. Thanks. Ben
I like my church, but sometimes itís really difficult to be there and be gay, too. Sometimes they hurt my feelings. I donít know if I should move on to another one or not. Suggestions?
I understand your concern regarding churches. There are many gay affirming churches, like UFMCC, around, but you may desire to remain in your home church or home church denomination. I feel the same way. I belong to UFMCC, but I was raised Presbyterian and was a lay pastor for that denomination. I often visit the various churches in my town, they all know me. I donít get hugged much by them, and I get a lot of stares and whispers. Iíve never been asked to leave, yet. I go not to make a statement, not to throw my being gay in their faces, not to try to persuade them, etc. but to worship God, and to worship in the freedom and totality of who I am. Part of who I am happens to be gay. To go to church in any other way, for me and for me alone, would be a form of going back to being in a closet, and I cannot, personally, do such.
Just how much does the gay Christian community do to extend itself to the churches that either reject or donít understand us, instead of whining and complaining about them and what they say against us? Not much, I fear. Yes, we have been severely wounded by them many times, but they remain brothers and sisters in Christ, no matter their attitudes and behaviors towards us.
Therefore, we are called as Christians and Gay Christians to go and lay down our lives for them, to serve them, pray for them, intercede for them. They rarely come and witness within our communities and we rarely do the same in their churches. I choose to go and attend their churches, carrying my bible, enduring their stares and worse. I am a stumbling block to their theology when they see me with hands lifted up, singing the worship, and when I sing in the spirit I am afraid square peg me just doesnít fit in their stereotyped round hole of what gays are supposed to be. If they ask me to leave, I shall stamp the dust of them off my shoes, and move on to the next church, etc.
I strive to wash the feet of those who would not wash mine. So, though I understand the deeply felt hurts and wounds of my fellow Gay Christian brothers, nevertheless, we are called to turn the other cheek and continue to Love and be Love always. It may be us whom God calls to bring a word of encouragement to another believer, and if we avoid them we are not open to the spirit's callings. So, we go and we serve and we get kicked around and sometimes we plant seeds of change and sometimes we see change within their hearts.
I am sure you have read my Articles on finding a church, etc. within the pages called "Living the Gay Christian Life." Use those guidelines, if possible. I understand your difficulties with churches that do not honor you as a person. Granted, I wish I could find a church, besides UFMCC, closer to my religious background, in this area that is supportive of gays, but I cant. The way we can help is for gays and lesbians to be visible in all churches. Most of these Christians donít know, or donít think they know any gays or lesbians, and what they have been taught about us is stereotypes and lies. If we were visible, seen as mature and responsible, then they would see they stereotypes faulty, etc.
So, though I know it is difficult, hard, and sometimes depressing, I encourage gays and lesbians to remain within their churches, be a light, and not leave. If they can find a gay affirming congregation or just other gay Christians to fellowship with, that is good, and can help give support and encouragement.
It is important to take care of your own spiritual health. If you are developing your self-esteem, being positive about yourself, it may be necessary for you to leave a threatening church or church denomination, maybe just for a while, so you can concentrate on, as the apostle Paul wrote, those "things which are good, Lovely, and of good report." Then, with time, you can return to the church or denomination you Love and better endure their difficulties.
Or you may be lead of the Lord to another church. It is important to remember we chose not a church just for our own spiritual blessing, health and development, but to be a blessing to other people. God may call you to a church not to be fed, but to feed others, not to be served but to serve others. You have gifts and talents unique to you, you may be the hand for a church composed mostly of foots, and we all need to find our place and complete the body of Christ. So, do not seek a church for your own good but for the betterment of others as well.
Do not seek a church that has it all together, which has wonderful music ministry, a great pipe organ, great preaching, nice singles or other groups, or similar reasons. Many churches have flawless things and a hollow heart. Rather, seek a church that walks in Love, as best they know how, and the degree of knowledge of Love they know. You may be called to join even a church that doesnít know Love, so that you may teach it by example, be a light unto it.
So, go and wash all of their feet. I challenge you to go to someone, not someone you like or fellowship with, but rather to someone you have difficulty getting along with, someone who has hurt you or someone you Love, someone you have disagreement with over some issue within your churches there and wash his or her feet. That is the gospel. We do not see these churches as enemies, but as fellow brothers and sisters who need Love. We reach out to them and Love them, turn the other cheek when we get slapped and spit upon, and keep loving and loving, whether or not we ever, ever, ever, are loved and accepted by them in return.
So, apply such sacrificing Love to those around you, difficult as it may be. Be Love. There may actually be a gay affirming church of your denomination in your city. You might ask the local UFMCC church or city's church interfaith organization if they know of one, they may help you out in that regard, understand your desire. My local UFMCC here has a lot of people who attend their own denomination in the morning service and come to UFMCC for the evening service.