“You’re what?” came the shocked response from the new person who I was engaged in conversation with. “Are you crazy? How can you possibly want to be? Who in their right mind would want to be one?”
I knew this might be a tough one, even though I had had the conversation numerous times before. Although I don’t ever make efforts to hide or conceal certain aspects of my identity from anyone, I also don’t necessarily advertise certain things about it either, so therefore, upon getting to know new people, I am very forward, open and honest about who I am. This person had already heard a great deal of information about me, but we had finally hit the part that they were going to have a really tough time accepting. I’m rather used to it, and I thank God that I always opt to be open about who I am and for the courage to have confidence in my convictions regardless of the manner in which others may respond.
It might initially seem easy to assume what this person was so disturbed by. However, the reality of the situation may be surprising. She was not reacting in shock to my being a bisexual man, or my openly being in intimate relationships with both a woman and a man, or my often radical ideas about relationships, sexuality or social issues in general; she too was bisexual, in similar relationships, and shared many of my views on other topics we had been discussing. The shocking revelation about myself which she was responding to-in response to her inquiry about what type of spirituality I was referring to when I said that spirituality was the guiding aspect of my life-was the fact that I am a Christian.
“How can you possibly associate yourself and be loyal to a religion which condemns the very idea of who you are, that is so negative towards self acceptance of ones sexuality, which seeks to foster guilt and shame on you just for being who you are? How can you follow teachings that say you are lesser or unworthy? How can you say you love a God that hates who you are?” were some of the questions I was being (somewhat unexpectedly) confronted with. “There’s a term for this, ‘sleeping with the enemy’, and I don’t understand how you can begin to feel at peace with yourself following a religion which thinks that everything about you is wrong to begin with.”
I began to explain the situation to her as best I could. “Well, first of all,” I said, “it is not Christ Who has a problem with who I am, nor is it God Who has a problem with who I am. It is people who have distorted the teachings of Christ based upon their own fears who have the problem. The teachings of Christ in no way say that I am lesser or unworthy. Second of all, those who claim that God does not accept me for who I am and that God has very black and white ideas about what a person can and cannot be are those who have chosen to accept the Bible as literal and without question out of fear, and are afraid of actually trying to understand. And finally, I have no love for a god who hates who I am-because such a God does not exist. Maybe one existed in my imagination a long time ago, but I have permanently put those unhealthy ideas and concepts about God to rest long ago.”
She thought about this for a few minutes, and then sort of shook her head and said, “I’m glad you have found a spiritual path that works for you, but I have no idea how you were able to reconcile these things. I admire so much about Jesus and what He taught about love and forgiveness and what He was supposed to have said, but I don’t think there is any way I could ever call myself a Christian. I mean, I believe in the whole idea of treat others the way you would want to be treated, and helping others in need, and being good to others but the whole Christianity thing just carries way too much baggage with it for me.”
“I know what you mean,” I replied, “and some of that isn’t easy to get past initially. But what I found out is that it’s not Jesus, or God that made me feel that way, but allowing my beliefs to be shaped by the beliefs of others instead of developing my own. Imagine for a minute taking it down to the bare bones of faith. That being a Christian was not about a ton of rules and regulations and so forth but just about using what you have, the things in life that make you happy to help others feel happiness and about what you said-compassion, kindness, doing good for others. Living life to the fullest while helping others lives to be enriched, bringing light to others who need hope.”
“I’m more of the agnostic variety, sometimes even atheist. I want to believe,” she said, “but it just seems so hopeless. Too much negative stuff in my head about God and the Bible. To be honest, most times when someone tells me they are Christian, I want nothing more to do with them because I feel as if it’s only a matter of time before they try to push me into some sort of a mold, a box, an expectation they have of me that I cannot live up to or something they want me to become that I can’t be comfortable with, something that makes me unhappy instead of feeling free. Isn’t God supposed to be about love and not about making people feel bad about who they are?”
“Well, in my opinion, God is about love, and making someone else feel bad about who they are is not my idea of being Christian, as I think it is against what Jesus taught. You won’t get anything like that from me, so don’t be concerned with that. To me, it’s all about accepting others for who they are, and that includes accepting the differences in belief and opinion right along with the things I share in common with someone else.”
This seemed to be reassuring to her, and our conversations have continued. I discovered quite a bit, such as how she had sought out acceptance among Christian groups which claimed to be open and accepting of people of all sexual orientations but who shunned her when it was discovered that she was bisexual and others who had a problem with the fact that she acknowledged other faiths. I also discovered the upbringing in a strict fundamentalist household which had repeatedly conditioned her with the “all or nothing, black and white” concept of Christianity; this is also something I experienced as a child, the “you either believe every single word of the Bible is true exactly as it is written or you believe none of it at all” mentality. She has read many of the articles here, and has considered a visit to a church that is open and affirming, but is still working towards a place where she feels comfortable giving Christianity a second chance. It is not that she does not desire to do so, it is merely the layers of resistance that have been created by a spiritually poisonous idea of what being a Christian, or a follower of Christ is and is not. One thing she has said, though, upon reading more about the actual teachings of Christ is that, “I wish there were more Christians who really did practice what Jesus taught instead of what someone told them He said”.
This was not the first time something like this has happened. Sure, I have had more than my share and then some of conservative Christians and even many moderate and some liberal Christians who do not understand or accept things about me, my sexuality and sexual orientation, relationships and beliefs and understandings. But on the converse, I have often encountered people not of the fundamentalist Christian variety-people in the LGBT Community-who thought the most controversial and anathema thing about who I am was not that the fact that I am a bisexual male, or that I am in intimate relationships with both a woman and a man, or that I am more radical in my thinking about social issues than many of my peers, but rather the fact that I am a Christian.
And this is unfortunately something I have witnessed a great deal of among those in the LGBT Community who are seeking “something more”, who hunger and thirst for spiritual knowledge, faith, and developing a personal relationship with God. Either they are frightened of anything with the label “Christian” as a result of prior negative conditioning and the way in which a small and very vocal group of legalistic Christians have hijacked the term “Christian”, or there are a lack of resources which exist as a truly safe and non-judgmental haven for the LGBT individual, or which recognize the level of diversity amongst the LGBT Community and the different spiritual needs that many of us may have.
The skepticism and caution with which the very idea of Christianity is often met does not come as a shock to me. It is definitely something that I can understand the resistance to, given the way in which Christianity in general seems to have been hijacked by those who are of one particular, rigid, black and white mindset. These days the label Christian has become synonymous with “fundamentalist conservative evangelical who insists that every word of the Bible is literally true as written” and which many in the LGBT Community associate with being at best merely tolerant of LGBT people and at worst, unwelcoming and hostile. Is it any wonder, then, that there are so many in the LGBT Community are resistant to the idea of support, acceptance, and encouragement coming from a “Christian” source?
And perhaps even more importantly, what can we as LGBT Christians who have grown and continue to grow in our faith do in order to break down this wall of fear and resistance and bring a greater sense of hope, peace and acceptance in a time when it is needed more than ever?
One thing which I think is key to remember is that as LGBT Christians we really need to be more vocal about our faith and “come out of our closets” about it. That does not mean that we walk around discussing it all of the time; more than anything it means sharing the hope that we ourselves have been blessed with. It means passing that love on to others, although that does not always mean the form of evangelism that we ourselves may be used to-even though we have a multitude of Good News to share with others who may be struggling as we have. It does, however, mean refusing to let our light be hid under a bushel and not downplaying or denying our faith, even when it is met with resistance and ridicule by others who still maintain old and negative, unhealthy ideas about God and Christianity.
There are not as many LGBT welcoming (and by that I do not mean “tolerating” as in the “love the sinner, hate the sin” rhetoric that feigns acceptance when it is in reality nothing close to being accepting) churches as there are multi-million dollar churches who toe the anti-LGBT party line. Even many of the LGBT welcoming churches, while being inclusive of Gay and Lesbian couples are apprehensive about being fully inclusive of bisexual and transgendered people at times; it is not that common, but it does happen. And I have met numerous other bisexual people with similar lives to my own who, although they definitely consider themselves Christians, hesitate to get involved in any type of church or organized religious groups.
Yet, there are thousands of LGBT Christians out there and countless more like the new friend I made recently who long to be, who yearn to know and walk more closely with God as they understand God, who long to find hope and peace and acceptance in the messages and teachings of Christ. All of us have different stories; some of them filled with tragedy and some filled with joy, some a mixture of both. Some of our stories are different and controversial to some, others more people might identify with more readily. Of one thing I feel certain; they need to be told, if for no other reason than there is one other person out there whose life may be illuminated by hearing them, and given a thread of hope that can keep them holding on when things get rough.
Although there are many in need of the hope many of us would like to share with them and pass on as a gift, in gratitude for the gift of love and acceptance God has given us, it can get frustrating when we feel as if we are up against years upon years of the conditioning that many might have against what we might have to share, up against other Christians who are anti-LGBT, up against a social climate in which, while great strides have been accomplished in recent years towards LGBT acceptance, still has a long way to go. The other unmentionable and distressing part is the fact that those who are determined to equate “Christian” with “against LGBT rights and acceptance” also seem to place the most financial backing behind them. I feel it is worth noting that the gigantic multi-million dollar “mega churches” all seem to have a very legalistic anti LGBT stance and are usually not welcoming and tolerant at best of LGBT people-a few are welcoming of them so long as they “seek help” and try to become straight. In addition, the anti LGBT Christians, for the most part, seem to procure the most airtime and media coverage.
It is somewhat frustrating to say the least when I think about what could be and what currently is in regards to the LGBT Christian Community reaching out to others in need. But frustrating has never meant impossible; as Christ said and I believe, with God all things are possible.
Here are a few thoughts I have had recently towards what we as LGBT Christians can do to share the blessings which God has given to us with others in need. Some are just general concepts we can employ in day to day life, others are ideas that are a little more far reaching.
1. Promote Positive Thinking About God
This is one of the most crucial, in my opinion, because I have found from personal experience that our ideas and concepts of God shape our well being. Those with negative, old ideas about God are less likely to be open to any sort of support from anyone talking about God or Christianity, and unless we are able to stimulate new ways of thinking about God and what Christianity is and is not then many who might find peace or hope in such a message may not give it a fair chance.
Part of this is letting go of the idea of God as judge or cosmic policeman or stern and strict father (actually, God to me is not mother or father but both and everything in between) and instead learning to see God as the Source of all we are, have and know Who loves us all unconditionally and empowers us to do great and wonderful things, and make the world a better place to exist in with one another.
A perfect example – I personally would love to see some sort of counter phrase to “God-fearing” or all those little bumper stickers that say “Fear God.” It’s just my opinion, but I think that the words “fear” and “God” are not compatible. I think it would be great to see bumper stickers that say “God Is Love” rather than “Fear God.”
Certainly, there is awe of the mystery of God; in Jesus’ many Parables He compared the Kingdom of God to many things, and part of a healthy and active spirituality and faith is not knowing and holding on to the sense of what it is we cannot know. But the God taught about by and evident to me in Christ is not one to be “feared” at all, but rather one to be approached with Love, Gratitude and a sense of child like wonder rather than fear. This is just one area in which I feel that while many LGBT Christians have grown to understand and embrace the idea that God is a God of Love and not fear, there are others who are stuck in the same old idea that God is a force to be afraid of rather than approached.
Another example is the seeming obsession that others seem to think that God has over what people do in their bedrooms or the sexuality or sexual orientation of individuals. This is often a major hurdle for someone seeking to reconcile spirituality and sexuality, and can be a tough issue for many to deal with. Yet, God to me is not concerned with our sexual orientation, proclivities or activities so long as we are not acting in a way which is harmful or hurtful to one another. Period. It does not matter if someone is homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual, transgendered, monogamous, ethically non-monogamous/polyamorous, a part of the Leather community, any combination of the above, or even asexual. I feel that being able to think in these terms and for one to learn to see their sexuality, whatever it may be, as a gift from God to be used responsibly and with love is extremely important for one to be able to reach a place of inner peace and self acceptance. Once this hurdle is cleared, it is amazing how a person can grow spiritually.
I would even go so far as to say that God is not concerned what religious or spiritual path a person decides to follow…..although I must admit I see the relevance and significance of the teachings of Christ in all of the world’s religions, even in non-religious ethical philosophy such as secular humanism and therefore I consider His teachings to be unequivocal and universal; seen with heart, His teachings truly do offer a “one size fits all.”
What God is concerned with, in my opinion is how we as human beings (or, if you prefer as I do, “spiritual beings having a human experience”) relate to one another, how we treat one another. Are we using the individual gifts and talents we were blessed with to create discord or inspire hope? Are we connecting with other people for our own selfish gain or are we connecting to see if we can have some sort of positive impact on their lives as well as our own? Are we doing everything we can to show our gratitude for all God has blessed us with by allowing that Love to flow freely to us and on to others in need?
I feel that the more we as LGBT Christians are able to speak openly about our gratitude to God for all we have, the more we are able to say that we stand for social justice because it is vital to our faith and spirituality, and the more we promote the idea of a God who really is a God of Unconditional Love by letting that Love flow through us to others, the more people we will be able to reach and give the same kind of hope, encouragement, and acceptance we have been blessed with.
2. Never Hide Our Light Under A Bushel
“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lamp stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to God in Heaven.” -Matthew 5:14-16
This is not about making a huge show of faith but rather allowing it to be clearly evident for others to see. Although I am open about my faith to anyone who inquires, I don’t go around wearing a t-shirt for it anymore than I do wearing a t-shirt saying, “I’m bisexual” (although I do wear a small bi pride bracelet given to me by my girlfriend, as well as a cross around my neck). It simply is a vital and key part of who I am. But rarely, unless asked, do others know about it by my openly proclaiming it loudly.
Someone might come into our house and see things such as framed prayers (The Lord’s Prayer, the Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi, the Serenity Prayer) hanging on the walls; the picture of Christ (the classic portrait of the bearded long haired guy that many people have come to identify as what He was supposed to resemble, eyes gazing upward); the crosses, the numerous books on Christianity that adorn the bookshelves.
They might hear me say in anger and frustration, “God Bless It!” rather than the usual three word swear asking God to condemn something (second word beginning with a “d”) that many are prone to use. Since I strive to maintain a healthy image of God, and I don’t honestly feel that God is a God of condemnation but only of blessings, I cannot use the term.
Or more importantly than any physical “symbol” of faith, they might hear me refuse to do something unethical on the basis of my faith; or question as to why I went out of my way to do something compassionate or kind for someone else, especially when it is someone who was not showing me very much kindness or compassion. They might hear me say “thank God” a lot, or hear me discussing something about church. But all of these are things that are not intended to be deliberate displays of my faith to impose it or push it on to others, they are merely things I do.
However, that is not to say that I am not constantly striving to let others know that it is a part of me. In my honest opinion, the most important thing I think we can do as LGBT Christians is to first demonstrate our faith by acting in ways which are Christian, such as giving of ourselves to others, taking that extra five minutes to give someone a word of encouragement even when we ourselves are not having a very encouraging need, letting go of the need to be “right” in favor of being kind and so forth.
When we reach out to offer help and assistance to others, I feel we should be doing so strictly from the heart with no hidden or ulterior motives or conditions; making donations as a method to give to another rather than as a potential tax write off at the end of the year, offering another LGBT person hope and encouragement and support for the mere reason of the joy we felt when someone did that for us and wanting to pass that on, and no other reason. And when someone asks us why we do something kind, never being afraid to say, “Because that’s what I think Jesus would have done.”
Being open about our faith and coming out about it to others who might be resistant to or not understand it does not have to be a huge display or an exercise in piety. And I feel it is imperative that those of us who are LGBT Christians are vocal in the fact that we feel our actions are guided by God as we know God through Christ.
3. Do Not Let Our Community Become A City Divided
“No city or house divided against itself will stand”- Matthew 12:25
I feel it necessary to talk about this one because I do unfortunately see it happen. It’s not easy to discuss but I feel that in any discussion of how the LGBT Community of faith can grow that it needs to be mentioned.
I think it is extremely important that amongst the LGBT Christian Community, and the LGBT Community in general that we exclude no one-including those amongst us who may choose to follow a different path. We must not create amongst our own community the same sort and fashion of divisiveness and discrimination which has threatened to poison Christianity as a whole.
There exists among the LGBT Community equally as much diversity as there is in the Religious and Spiritual communities. There are those who feel that being LGBT is a choice and those who feel as if it is not. There are those who are for same gender marriage and those against it (yes, I have seen this in the LGBT Community) and there are those who feel that those in same gender relationships should be more “normal” or “straight acting.” There are those who feel we should be more inclusive than we are as well as those who seem as if they would be all too happy to eliminate the “B” and the “T” or both from the Community.
I have been ostracized from LGBT groups (both secular and Christian) for being bisexual and refusing to “pick a side,” I have been ostracized for having a committed and honest relationship with both a woman and a man, and I have met other bisexuals who have experienced the same. I have transgendered friends who have met the same kind of discrimination, as well as a couple of friends who were cast out of their social circle when it was discovered they were active in the Leather Community. It did not matter that they were good people, it did not matter that they were not pushing their points of view on others, and it did not matter that they were active parts of their community; they did not conform to what the group deemed as “acceptable” and were therefore cast out. In a few of these cases, Scriptures were cited as a justification for doing so, in the very same way many fundamentalist churches use Scripture to keep LGBT people out.
I realize, accept and understand that some groups may feel that certain individuals are a potential “barricade” to greater acceptance by society. However, in my opinion, the true path to acceptance of LGBT people is not created by the deliberate exclusion of people who are “too controversial.” While I feel there certainly should be a group ethic that whatever individual choices people make should not be hurtful, harmful, or deceitful to others, I feel it is missing the mark to exclude any person or group of people who is or are simply being who they are and doing so in a way which is not harmful to anyone.
One thing I would like to see more of are more LGBT welcoming churches who are willing to engage in the sometimes challenging and difficult discussions that can arise. Those that are willing to listen to those who may have different lives than what is the acceptable “norm,” accept whatever differences in belief or faith that we may have and accept all others in their diversity. Thankfully, I have been blessed with a faith community where I have been accepted both as a bisexual and as one in committed relationships with two partners and the woman and the man that I love have found acceptance there as well. One of my transgendered friends has also been able to find such a community. This is not always the case, and it is tragic to me that a great majority of the discrimination I have witnessed towards LGBT people is by other LGBT people.
As LGBT people, and especially those of us who are LGBT Christians, I feel that it is more important than ever that the doors are closed to no one, and that we exclude no one, so long as they are striving to be who they are in an ethical and honest way and in a way harmful to no others. The vast diversity of Creation that God made is not black and white or gray, but a spectrum of colors beyond any rainbow we could ever imagine. I feel that regardless of whether or not we favor all of the shades, we should rejoice in God’s Creativity and be able to offer unconditional love and acceptance to all people.
I feel that we also need to be very cautious about what acceptance is and is not. Tolerance is not the same as acceptance; if someone says that they accept someone for who they are and then methodically sets out to change that to suit their ideas of what they should be-that is not acceptance. That to me is the worst kind of deceit and betrayal, and definitely not something I feel that Christ would want or do to another.
Certainly, we may not all agree with the choices that one another makes or understand each other fully-but we need to be able to learn to love and accept one another no matter how different we might be or think, find our common ground and stand together for the greater good as that is arriving one step closer to the Kingdom of God.
4. Strive To Maintain Our Own Spiritual Health And Well Being
“You will know them by their fruits”- Matthew 7:16
Another key factor in sharing our faith with others who feel disenfranchised and are seeking to sate spiritual hunger or quench spiritual thirst is making sure that we ourselves are in good spiritual health. By the fruit we yield, people will be able to see that perhaps the hope we are passing on is something worth looking into further for themselves.
However, I have seen it happen many times that even those of us who are LGBT Christians who are strong in our faith and feel the sense of being blessed and unconditionally loved by God can sometimes allow fear and anxiety to slip up on us and get us down. It does happen, and has happened to me before. I think that may just be a natural part of life; but thankfully, it is one we can strive to keep in check by maintaining a sense of spiritual fitness.
I work out at least five times a week; but every day I take a few minutes to nourish my needs for spiritual fitness as well. Sometimes it’s reading the Bible, other times it is prayer and meditation, others it is writing in a journal-or others, all of the above. It keeps me in check; how can I offer any type of spiritual support and encouragement to others without maintaining my own spiritual well being? (Although, I will say that often doing just that is the best antidote if I am feeling spiritually under the weather!)
I think it is good to make a habit of reclaiming the promise found in Scripture, when it is read with an open mind and heart. So many opposed to the LGBT Community use Scriptures as a weapon (I have heard them referred to as the “clobber passages”) and therefore many get anxious at the idea of Scripture.
Scripture can be used to justify and defend anything and appeal to the worst aspects of human nature. But it can also provide an excellent resource of Spiritual faith and strength. That is why I look to the essence of what Jesus taught and demonstrated first, and then counter what I might read in Scripture against that; if I read something not in line with what I feel Jesus taught about God, then I question it. Picking and choosing? Perhaps. But is it not better to choose verses which foster a sense of hope, faith, compassion and love-all things which God in Christ seemed to embody most? To me it’s definitely food for thought.
Another aspect of being LGBT and Christian and maintaining a healthy spirituality is the affirmation of there being no conflict in between spirituality and sexuality.
Remember how I talked about how others are taken aback by the fact that I am a Christian? It seems to be an “all or nothing” mentality; as in, “you cannot be confident in who you are and free with and happy about your sexuality, and still be a Christian.” One person went so far as to say, “You cannot have it both ways”. I first jokingly said to them, “Never say those words to a bisexual” and then after a good laugh began to explain that I feel that the reality is that one can have it both ways. Despite what illusions of fear we may allow to cloud our thinking due to past conditioning, I see absolutely no conflict between being LGBT and Christian, and that it is society who has placed far too much emphasis on one’s sexuality being in opposition to being a person of faith.
For the past ten years or so that the topic of sexual orientation has been more widely discussed in the mainstream/public view, there has been much debate over whether or not it is a “choice” or not (a topic that frequently comes to the surface when the topic of bisexuality is discussed.) I hear some LGBT people state emphatically to conservative Christians who cannot accept them that “I can’t help it, I would be straight if I could be like you, but it’s not a choice!”
Just my personal opinion (and for the record, I don’t think it is a “choice” but just how we are made), but I think it is far healthier to view sexual orientation as a blessing rather than a curse. It breaks my heart when I hear the stories of people who are LGBT and have not been able to reach a place of self acceptance and feel the need to apologize to others for how they were Created. At worst, it is definitely not good for healthy self esteem.
The only real choice I see is self acceptance and happiness and bringing what light we have to bring to Creation or self denial and self loathing and discord which leads to or brings with it a profound sense of feeling disconnected from God.
Always know that God Created you as you are for a reason, and there is never any reason to feel shame or guilt about who you are. If you find yourself in a place where you are feeling a sense of spiritual disconnectedness, keep the faith and know that it is just a temporary thing, and that something will happen to bring you back to a place of being centered and at peace. If nothing else, a simple affirmation that God Loves you as you are can often do it.
By maintaining our own spiritual health and well being, which includes the understanding that there is no conflict between a Loving God and our sexual orientation or sexuality, no matter what that may be, we are in a much better position to be able to pass on the Love God has blessed us with to others in need of it.
5. Find Our Light And Talent And Let It Shine
Everyone has a talent, and some are multitalented. Everyone has a purpose, and a reason for being, and if you haven’t found one yet, trust me-it will show up, most times when you least expect it.
I am suggesting that perhaps no matter how helpless we may feel at times given the need for reaching out to others in the LGBT Community with a message of hope, encouragement and acceptance, no matter how we may feel that we have nothing worthwhile to contribute, there is always something. I am not speaking necessarily of monetary contributions, but of something even more important; giving of oneself. Letting God’s Love flow through us to others who need it.
It could also mean dreaming big with the talents God has blessed you with. Perhaps you are a musician who could write the first song played on contemporary Christian radio about God’s Love and acceptance of all people, including LGBT people. Perhaps you are an LGBT person attending seminary who will one day do as much for LGBT civil rights as Martin Luther King did for civil rights in general. Maybe you’re a writer who will one day go on and write a book that will inspire a new code of social ethics and work towards ending discrimination against LGBT folks. Or perhaps you will be part of the crew that builds a “mega church” which is truly inclusive of LGBT people, or write a motion picture that makes society think that perhaps the LGBT prejudices need to finally be put to rest. These are all things that are from the heart and based upon gifts and talents God has given people. They are grand visions; certainly I would not be the least bit surprised if I see them in my lifetime.
But it also works on a much smaller scale, one on one, one person, one heart at a time. Everyone has a story to tell; and for every story to be told, there is someone out there somewhere that will find inspiration, hope, or obtain something from it. It’s no secret to anyone-I see and understand God, or the concept of God, very differently. I have a very different way of thinking and of life from what many would consider “normal” in my bisexuality and my relationships with my partners. But I know there are people out there who have been given hope when I have shared my stories, and my beliefs, and what God has done for me. And that’s all that matters, even if just one person was given some hope by something I had to say, that brings me a sense of joy that few other things can.
But it isn’t just in writing, or sharing my story like this. It’s the little things. It’s being able to talk to someone who is undergoing the same type of stress and sense of despair I once did, and being able to offer them the smallest ray of hope where one may not have existed before. Being able to offer a possible path to the doorway of freedom from the slavery of fear that one might be imprisoned in just by being a friend. Creating a small “support network” for friends who are seeking to find a place of inner peace, to revisit and re explore spirituality based on a more positive idea of God.
That special talent, or talents that we have, those abilities, just the very nature of who we are is, in my opinion, the light God has given us to share with the world. It may be something as simple as an ability to make someone laugh or smile, it may be the ability to listen with compassion and put someone in distress at ease, it may just be the ability to convey one’s thoughts clearly and articulate them.
But whatever it is, I feel that is our “light” which God intends for us to somehow put to good use for the happiness and well being of both ourselves and others. What is yours? That answer can only come from much prayer, thought and soul searching, or it may be as plain and simple as the next thought. The hope that someone needs may come in your words or actions, and God has chosen you for the vessel to convey it to them – the key is only to discern what, and how.
Let your light shine. It doesn’t have to be anything grandiose or spectacular. Even if it’s just a little light, it will illuminate hope into the life of someone who needs it … and I think that is what this life is supposed to be all about.
Those are just a few thoughts I had on what we can do as LGBT Christians to reach more of those in need of the Good News that they too are unconditionally loved and accepted by God, and to enable them to share in the peace that many of us have found. There are many who need it, and there are so many of us that can help them find it. I just feel that we have to recognize and realize what it is that we have to give, and then put it to the best use possible.
I originally sat down to write this and was going to title it, “This Little Light Of Mine,” but as I was writing it, a thought occurred to me. While I feel it important that each of us brings our “light” to others in our own unique way, I have a different vision of the LGBT Community as a whole.
In Matthew 5, when Jesus is talking about “the light of the world,” He also makes another reference, that “a city on a hill cannot be hid.” And that reminds me a little bit about what I see and feel about the LGBT Community of Faith.
I think that the LGBT Community of Faith is, in many ways, like that city on a hill. To many out there who are seeking a sense of inner peace, oneness with God, and acceptance, it may be barely visible at the present time, or appear far away in the distance. Perhaps others may have just heard rumors of it, but know with faith in their hearts that it must exist, and are seeking to find their way there.
But it does exist. Despite the efforts of those who have attempted to overthrow it with prejudice and ridicule, it still stands strong. While it has not yet grown into the thriving metropolis we want it to be, it is well on its way and built on a very solid foundation of rock. And it is a city filled with hope as well as light which we are the Source of, the light that God has blessed us with to help in creating a brighter path for others. Each of us has our own individual, different and unique light that God Created us with for a purpose, and now is the time to let it shine and assist in illuminating the path for those who may be struggling as we once were.
And while the unique light each and every one of us can radiate is powerful, if all of us involved continue to let our own individual light shine brightly, and work together, those lights will shine even brighter, creating a greater, even more brilliant collective light. This brighter light will not only become a source of hope, encouragement and affirmation to those in need of it, but act as a beacon as well, helping to guide the way for those who seek this city of refuge and spiritual peace. If we continue to keep the doors open with love and acceptance of all who seek it, then it will continue to grow stronger and brighter along with the city and guide others to discover it as we welcome them to bring their own light to be a part of it as we welcome more and more into the sense of peace, belonging and spiritual food, drink and wholeness found within its refuge.
It may not happen overnight, I feel confident that it will continue to grow as more continue to slowly help in building it, until all know about it. And then no amount of fear, misunderstanding, or prejudice will ever allow it to be hidden from all who wish to seek it, or the peace that comes from knowing that God Loves all people, including all LGBT people, ever again.
Peace, Love and God Bless.
John Campbell is a native of Alabama.