Thursday, April 18, 2013

“If you tell me Christian commitment is a kind of thing that has happened to you once and for all like some kind of spiritual plastic surgery, I say you're either pulling the wool over your own eyes or trying to pull it over mine. Every morning you should wake up in your bed and ask yourself: "Can I believe it all again today?" No, better still, don't ask it till after you've read The New York Times, till after you've studied that daily record of the world's brokenness and corruption, which should always stand side by side with your Bible. Then ask yourself if you can believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ again for that particular day. If your answer's always Yes, then you probably don't know what believing means. At least five times out of ten the answer should be No because the No is as important as the Yes, maybe more so. The No is what proves you're human in case you should ever doubt it. And then if some morning the answer happens to be really Yes, it should be a Yes that's choked with confession and tears and. . . great laughter.”
--Frederick Beuchner

  • the Boston maraton bombings that killed 3 and wounded almost 200 including loss of limbs
  • the unspeakable murders at Sandy Hook in Newtown
  • the mass shootings in the Aurora, CO movie theater, the AZ political rally, the Oregon Mall, Columbine, Virginia Tech, and others
  • the NRA, the NRA lobby, and the stranglehold they have on our political system
  • the moral blindless and cowardice of our elected officials in the Senate and House
  • the inhumane, unsafe abortion clinic in PA, and the refusal of some Christians to make the actual steps it takes to make abortion safe, legal, and rare until it disappears
  • the continued oppression of LGBT people, women, and other marginalized individuals and groups in the church that claims to follow Jesus Christ, the champion of the oppressed and marginalized
  • the emaciated man in the wheelchair outside the hospital, arguing with a low-wage insurance claim agent
  • the fatal explosion in West, Texas that devastated a enter town of 2,000+
  • 9/11
  • world poverty
  • the past, current, and future sins of comission and omission by the U.S. in the name of God, loyalty, and patriotism
  • the daily physical and sexual abuse of children worldwide
  • the daily, unspeakable violence all over the world
  • the holocaust

How can my answer be anything but No?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Sermon on the Mount: Addendum

An addendum to Matthew's Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5-7) has been discovered in the American South! Translation from the Greek:

And after all he had spoke he said unto them, "Verily I say unto you, gird up your loins with weapons lest your government oppress thee with taxation and environmental regulation. Careth not about the rich man, for his wealth shall trickle down to you unfettered. Protect thou the fetus of thy womb; yet after birth ye shall wash your hands of them. Be kind only to thy countrymen, for your place of origin is the kingdom of heaven. Despiseth thou those who speak ill against you for your beliefs, for their ears will not hear regardless of the volume of thy words and forcefulness of thy arguments. (Do not letteth that stop you, however.) And above all, a new law I give to you: marriage in the eyes of the state shall be only between one man and one woman, lest I come down and smite thee with floods, famine, and activist judges."

Saturday, April 6, 2013

A Call From Peggy

One night, in late 2000 or early 2001, I came home and saw the blinking red light on my digital answering machine. I was coming home after...what? I don’t exactly remember.

It could have been a night out with my gay/gay-friendly friends or with my church/Christian friends. It could have been after visiting one of my secret boyfriends (I had three short-lived relationships in the span of two years). Or I might have come back from dinner with my former pastor and his family. Or I could have come home from an internet hookup.

My life at the time was like shattered glass: I felt broken in shards, and I had to be extremely careful with the pieces.

Seeing the blinking light, I walked over and pressed Play. The message began.

“Hi Kevin, this is Peggy Campolo calling.”

I was immediately shocked and immediately touched. Earlier that week, I had found a transcript online of a public dialogue about homosexuality between Tony and Peggy Campolo. The tone and the content of the conversation was something new to me. Although Tony was clear about what he believed was sin, his focus was on the unjust and cruel treatment of LGBT folks by the church. Peggy, agreeing with her husband on the latter point, disagreed with him on same-sex relationships. She believed that these relationships are blessed by God.

I had heard about Tony Campolo growing up in my church culture. To most people I knew, he was an evangelical in good standing, even if his political views were really screwed up. (He was a Democrat for God’s sake!)

After reading the transcript, I did a search for Tony Campolo to find a place where I could contact him. I found an address, typed out a brief message, printed it, and signed it. I don’t remember what was in the letter exactly, but it was a cry for help. Right before I mailed it, I scribbled my phone number on the letter. I’m not sure why I did that, other than desperation.

I’m so glad I did. Even though I addressed the letter to Tony, he passed my letter to his wife. He could have simply ignored it, or he could have written me himself. I'm sure he would have been encouraging, but he might have also told me what I had heard over and over and over again: that acting on my same-sex desires was sin. Instead, he gave the letter to Peggy, with whom he disagreed. I found this to be an incredible act of grace, humility, and discernment.

So, what did Peggy Campolo say on my answering machine? She spent about 5 minutes giving me personal encouragement. She provided a list of online resources. (I honestly don’t remember which ones, as this was back in the early 2000s, but they were resources such as The Gay Christian Network and Soulforce. Unfortunately, there was no such thing as The Marin Foundation back then.) She also told me that she had sent some information in the mail to me, including a recording of the dialogue that she and Tony had had about homosexuality. The packet of materials arrived in the next day or two.

The information was extremely helpful to me at the time. What has remained with me to this day, however, was the act of love from Peggy and Tony, reaching out to me personally.

As I continue this journey in my own spiritual wilderness—a journey that is absolutely necessary, and a journey that I am still on—people like Tony and Peggy help me understand that (for me anyway) there is something deeply meaningful and authentic about the Jesus way. For that I will always be thankful. I also remain hopeful that their influence is having an impact on Christians. For LGBT young people growing up in the evangelical church—lonely, fearful, and struggling to integrate their identity and their faith—this is very good news.

For more on Peggy Campolo and other resources, check out the Recommended Reading section at The Marin Foundation website. Scroll down on the page to view her specific recommendations.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Does It Really Get Better?

Today I am blogging at The Registered Runaway, a heartfelt and wonderfully written blog by a young gay Christian man. I was honored when R-squared (as I like to call him) asked me to write something for his new Open Letter series. Of course I said YES! Here is an excerpt:

Does it really get better?

That's a question I'm sure most of you have asked. Especially if one or more of the following is true about you today:

  • You identify as a Christian
  • You go to a non-affirming church
  • You are in the closet
  • Most or all of your family believe that being gay is a sin (or at the very least, unnatural)
  • You are trying to change
  • You have chosen a path of lifelong celibacy
  • You don’t know whether you want to be a Christian or not
  • You feel lonely and marginalized by either Christians or the LGBT community (or both)

Let me briefly share my own story with you, with the hope that you will realize the width, depth, and breadth of God’s love for you, no matter where you are in your spiritual journey...(read the full post at The Registered Runaway blog.)