Yesterday I got in a couple of letters from two different people, one right after the other. First came this, from a fellow named Blake (who said I could share his name):
As I child I remember lying in my bed, praying to God: “God, if you are real, please turn on my bedroom light.” My prayer was never answered. I remember, when I was struggling with my sexuality, praying: “God, if you’re real, make me not like boys anymore.” I get annoyed when people tell LGBT people to pray the gay away. We have tried. We’re generally the first to bow our heads in tears asking for help. And when we don’t receive it, what is left? Acceptance. Not just from other people, but mainly from ourselves. I thank you for your writings. They truly bless me when I am down.
That was it. That was the whole letter. Just … nails it. (And thanks, Blake, for kind words re: me.)
Then, about an hour later, I received this:
So … basically I’m gay. I clearly don’t know how to start this… I’m twenty-three years old, graduated college, and just came out to my family maybe two years ago. It went surprisingly well considering dad is a Southern Baptist prison minister. I never told him directly, but I’m sure my mom did. Mom believes that I can pray my way through this and come out straight. I don’t doubt God has the power to do so, but part of me thinks he doesn’t see a reason to. I like being gay. I like guys. I like liking guys. Anyways … I have become so consumed with validating my sexuality with the Bible that I’ve lost the zeal for praying and Scripture because I’m always afraid. I couldn’t tell you what I’m really afraid of though … hell probably. I guess my question is how can I accept who I am and get back pumped up for Christ?
[Totally cute guy name along the lines of Martin or Quinton. Not as precious as Percy or anything, but sort of in that zone.]
This letter just floors me. I know I’ll never again get a letter with an opening as Utterly Excellent as “So … basically I’m gay. I clearly don’t know how to start this … .”
And then! “My coming out went surprisingly well considering dad is a Southern Baptist prison minister.”
This caused me to actually experience the cliche of not knowing whether to laugh or cry. I sort of did both at once.
I think I sprained one of my eyes, or something. And hurt a rib. It was weird.
Anyway, I did want to respond to the guy who wrote the second letter. So this is to you, second letter writer, if you’re out there:
But more to the real point of your very touching letter: Forget getting “pumped up” for Christ. Christ has enough people pumped up for him. I think Christ could use some people who are deflated for him. Who are discouraged for him.
What Christ needs are people who are simply honest for him. And honest people do “pumped up” like mules do the Kentucky Derby.
Be depressed for Christ. Be unsure of yourself for Christ. Be afraid for Christ.
Be human for Christ. That’s what Christ wants. And that’s the one thing from people he too rarely gets. People are always putting on their game face for Christ; they’re always bringin’ it home for Christ, winning for Christ, being warriors for Christ. They’re always making Christ their fucking co-pilot.
Oh. Um. And also curse for Christ.
God knows I do. (And—not to be Joe Link, or anything—here’s why I personally am okay with that.)
Christ is more than fine with you coming to him exactly as you are: no other modality of presentation really interests him. And your letter shows that’s exactly what you’re being about: you’re just being there. That’s all you have to do. Just show up for Christ. Just signal to him that you’re there. He’ll know how to take it from there.
And please don’t be afraid of hell. Hell is a fictitious concept dreamed up, promulgated, and clung to by people who are so afraid and confused by this life that they desperately want the next life to be absolutely, one hundred percent clear. Good guys up; bad guys down. Good guys rewarded; bad guys punished. Good guys comfortable; bad guys frying like onion rings. Good guys in nice white robes; bad guys in cast-iron pants, or whatever.
It’s so stupid. Hell—and a God so psycho he would actually sentence to it ninety-five percent of all people who ever lived—is a concept that a fourth-grader wouldn’t admit to dreaming up for fear of looking laughably unimaginative. And he would be. His friends would be, like, “Really? Burning up forever? That’s the best you could do?”
If you have a Kindle or Nook, buy my little e-book, Hell No! Extinguishing Christian Hellfire. If you don’t have a Kindle or Nook, lemme know, and I’ll see if I can figure out how to email Hell No! to you anyway.
For now, trust me: You do not have to fear hell. (By November 1 I will have ready this e-book, the concluding essay of which will, I promise, give you every last reason to know that the Bible no sooner proves that God condemns homosexuality than an ice cube in my freezer proves that it’s really cold on Jupiter.)
Hang in there, friend. Boldly and resolutely dismiss hell for the Drunk Sunday School Teacher bullshit that it is; trust that God created gay and lesbian people the same as he did straight people; be patient with your mom; don’t (if he’s inclined to) let your dad mess with you too much; and always feel free to step right around the Bible, and go directly to God.
He loves you.