Friday, January 30, 2015

The Coming-Out Narrative

The standard coming-out-of-the-church-closet narrative goes like this:

  • I struggled in silence against my same-sex attraction (SSA). At church, there was no one to talk to. I tried to act the role of someone that I wasn’t but lived a fearful, guilty, repressed life, certain that I would end up in hell. When I finally got the courage to be authentic, come-out, and announce that I was gay, my friends distanced themselves from me. However, I have found a new and loving community that has affirmed me completely.
British Christian songwriter and theologian, Vicky Beeching, has a similar coming-out story:

  • I’ve also lost some dear friends; people who didn’t want to know me anymore solely because I am gay. But I’ve gained so much — a huge army of loving, inclusive people from all faiths and none who’ve gathered around me online and offline. Most excitingly, I’ve met an incredible woman and we are now dating, so that’s a huge source of happiness for me. When I think back to a year ago, I could not have imagined how happy I’d be today.
I have become somewhat suspect of coming-out stories. It’s not just the incredibly high prevalence of domestic violence in the gay community or even the over-the-top language about “an incredible woman” or the “source of happiness” Beeching claims to have acquired that give me hesitation.

There are other suspicious aspects of this narrative. My friend and I just taught two classes of eighth graders about SSA. They seemed to be relieved when we taught them that having sinful desires like SSA were very common and that the Bible reveals that even Jesus had been tempted in every way that we are except without sin (Heb. 4:15-16). We explained to them the traditional Christian theology that it’s therefore not temptation that matters but whether or not we choose to handle it in a godly way – just the standard biblical teaching of any good church!

If Christian youth would simply understand this, there would be no reason to walk around feeling guilty and fearful of hell. Instead, we are assured of forgiveness when we confess our sins (1 John 1:9).

Meanwhile, the pro-gay narrative claims that the only relief is to be found in the full and authentic embrace of the gay lifestyle. Authenticity can take no other form. However, to apply this logic elsewhere, it would mean that the adulterer can only be authentic as he is having his adulterous affair, or the heroin addict can only be authentic when he is shooting-up. Instead, why cannot the person struggling against SSA authentically choose to abstain in favor of a life lived in harmony with His Savior Jesus!

I am also suspicious of the claim that when the church learns that you are gay, they will reject you. For one thing, I’ve never seen this happen in all of my 38 years as a church-goer. Nor have I heard of any cases of this within the very biblical churches that I have attended.

Admittedly, there is a problem when someone refuses to repent of their sinful behavior, whether it’s the sin of homosexual sex or stealing from the coffers. Ideally, unrepented sins should lead to corrective conversations. It is only when these fail that excommunication becomes an option – the final option for those who continue to refuse to repent.

Instead, it seems that Beeching is rejecting the church and discrediting it. She even claims that she fears violence from the church:

  • Going to such conservative, anti-gay parts of the U.S. does scare me a little in terms of personal safety​, and I’ll be looking over my shoulder a bit I’m sure​, but it seems important to go and tell my story to try to change minds and hearts.
This is not fair! Although there have been many acts of violence of gays on Christians, I am not aware of one case of a Christian attacking a gay! Nor do I know of one case where Christian parents have rejected their gay child. Instead, I know of several cases where the gay children have rejected their parents. Personally, I have had several gay friends who have rejected me because of my biblical stance on homosexuality.

More than just rejecting the church, Beeching is setting herself in opposition to the church, using her influence among the youth to “try to change [their] minds and hearts.”

No coming-out-from-story story is ever complete without mention of the tiny, entirely unrepresentative, and embarrassing Westboro Baptist Church. Nor was Beeching’s.

When I say “embarrassing,” I don’t mean embarrassing for the pro-gay community. For them Westboro is a delight. It seems that no pro-gay event is complete until Westboro arrives with their distasteful signs, which the pro-gay media gladly photographs and promotes to exemplify the “true face of Christianity.”

However, the media knows better, and the media consumers should be wary when the only church mentioned by the pro-gay media is Westboro.

Beeching insists that:

  • It’s proof that when you step into full authenticity [by embracing the gay lifestyle], life starts to flow better and you feel a renewed sense of energy and hope.
Sounds like propaganda? It’s worse! It encourages our youth to take a leap into a horribly self-destructive lifestyle. Instead of finding a “renewed sense of energy and hope,” they find greatly attenuated lifespans, STDs, depression, substance abuse to cover the guilt and shame, suicide, and even an affirming community characterized by far higher incidences of domestic violence.

Gays are suffering! What might start with gaiety will clearly end in sorrow. My purpose isn’t to give them more of it but to show them a better way.

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