But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.”
My times are in your hand;
deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors. Let your face shine upon your servant;
save me in your steadfast love. Do not let me be put to shame, O Lord, for I call on you; let the wicked be put to shame; let them go dumbfounded to Sheol.
– Psalm 31:14-17
Country singer Keith Urban knows a thing or two about pursuing the false gods of this world. He has enjoyed success around the world, with top ten hits, a large fan base, and taken in a lot of money. Like so many other successful music stars, Urban also found himself with a fairly nasty cocaine habit. It got so bad, Urban checked himself in to a rehab center in Nashville in the late 1990s. After cleaning up his act, he wrote a song about his struggle with fame, money, and drugs. He declared that each of them are “not my god.”
‘Cause you’re not my god
And you’re not my friend
You’re not the one that I will walk with in the end
You’re not the truth
You’re a temporary shot
You ruin people’s lives and you don’t give a second thought You’re not my god
That’s what happens when we pursue the gods of this world – we seek after what is not the truth, what will give us a temporary high – but ultimately, will ruin our lives. Our ancient Hebrew ancestors were destined to live out this lesson over and over again. They would declare to Yahweh, “You are my God,” then go chasing after the false gods all around them. Each time, they suffered the consequences as they were sent into slavery and exile throughout their history. Chasing the gods of this world do nothing but put us in chains to the tin gods of our own making. The songwriter of Psalm 31 could identify with Urban’s struggle with the false gods of this world. There was no ancient rehab center for him to go to – only the mercy of Yahweh to call upon.
“… deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors. Let your face shine upon your servant; save me in your steadfast love,” he sang to the one, true, God.
How often do we, as gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Christians chase after the false gods of this world – and not just the false gods of wealth, fame, or power, that all humans are prone to chase? How often do we chase after the false gods of becoming “ex-gay” or suppressing our God given gift of sexuality? How often do we fall for the lie that God hates who we are and wants us to pursue the false god of a “cure”? Too often, I fear. I hear from too many people who afraid they cannot be who God made them to be because preachers, churches, and even politicians, tell them they are going against “God’s will.” Like Urban’s drugs and fame, they “ruin people’s lives” without a second thought. But, God’s will for each of us is that we seek to follow the one, true God – the God that calls us to life, the God that calls us to love, the God who calls us to live fully into who we are created to be. For LGBT people, to follow God’s will, then, is to live openly, fully, and authentically into who we are. We can only do that when we call upon the Holy and declare, “You are my God.” Nothing in this world will harm us when we say these words with our lips and inscribe them on our hearts.
Do not let me be put to shame, O Lord, for I call on you; let the wicked be put to shame; let them go dumbfounded to Sheol. Let the lying lips be stilled that speak insolently against the righteous with pride and contempt.
The lips that tell us the lie that God hates us because we are gay, or lesbian, or transgender, or bisexual, are lying lips – they speak insolently against us, with pride and contempt. They tell us we cannot be acceptable to God until we reject one of the gifts God has bestowed upon us – our sexuality. Instead of relying on what other people tell you, when we declare “You are my God” to the Holy, we set our priorities straight and understand that it is God’s steadfast love that upholds us – and indeed, that is all we will ever need.
Do not be afraid that the world – including your family and friends – may reject you when you live into your authenticity as a gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender person. Instead, declare to the Holy, “You are my God!” Then, “be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord!”
The founder and Editor Emeritus of Whosoever, Rev. Candace Chellew earned her Masters of Theological studies at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, Ga., and trained as a spiritual director through the Omega Point program of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta. Her first book, “Bulletproof Faith: A Spiritual Survival Guide for Gay and Lesbian Christians”, was published by Jossey-Bass in 2008. She currently serves as the Spiritual Director of Jubilee! Circle in Columbia, S.C.