A friend of mine is a gay artist who, up until a few days ago, was a tireless and fairly high-profile opponent of Christianity. His world recently changed when he realized that, despite his “hard-won atheism,” he was rapidly becoming a Christian.
“I’m sitting here listening to Jars of [bleeping] Clay and weeping,” he wrote me. “Mother[bleep]er! Where is this [bleep] coming from? And why am I okay with it? God[bleep] it.”
Knowing my history (see I, A Rabid Anti-Christian, Very Suddenly Covert), my friend asked for some advice about the phenomenon he was experiencing. That advice (which he was kind enough to encourage me to here share) was/is:
Up until my freakish conversion experience I, like, you, basically loathed Christianity; I considered it at best appallingly stupid. Same as you thought!
That God. S/he sure is … seriously intrusive.
Anyway, yeah: I have some idea of where you’re coming from, and perhaps a bit of what you’re experiencing.
I’m certainly aware of your concern that becoming a Christian will mean having to give up aspects of yourself that you hold dear. Please put that fear to rest. Of all the things that becoming a Christian means—or is supposed to mean, anyway—one of them is not getting absorbed into the giant Borg of Christian Conformity.
Exactly the opposite is true, in fact. God desires you to be more of who you are, not less. God made you exactly the way you are. And God is more than aware that you’re the only person in the history of the universe who is anything even vaguely like you.
You’re it, friend. You’re the culmination of the entire, literally ageless stream of creation that ultimately led to your existence. You’d be letting God down if you used your new awareness of His/Her presence in your life and heart as a reason to suppress the person God made you to be.
You were a bold, irreverent, truth-telling artist before you became a Christian. Become anything else now, and I think you’ll just piss God off. God needs bold, irreverent, truth-telling artists. That’s for sure. I’m gonna guess that’s why he yanked you over to his team.
Here’s a few random quick Christian Points I’d definitely encourage you to bear in mind:
Christianity comprises two very different things: faith and religion. Too often people confuse the soul of Christianity—the deeply intimate faith part of it—with the religion of Christianity. Not the same things at all. Faith is the water; religion is the cup. You need a cup to share water; a cup helps you partake of water yourself. But water always remains separate from whatever container it’s in.
Christianity is nothing if not rational. Part of becoming a Christian is not having to leave your brain outside the door; it’s not suspending your God-given ability to think critically. The idea that Christianity is not rationally supportable—that the Christian faith system is not at least as rational a response to reality as is any other faith system or philosophy—is nonsense. It’s just some freak of history that Christianity is today so easy to associate with Brain Dead. (See my The Rational Genius of Christianity.)
It’s between you, God, and no one else. There is nothing in this world more personal, intimate, and tailored exactly for you than the relationship between you and God. Nobody but you can experience, feel, understand, or know that relationship. Nobody but you and God will ever be privy to the ever-unfolding dynamics that inform that relationship. What God says to you—what God shows you, how God proves him/herself in your life, how God moves you—always remains between you, God, and no one else. It’s the ultimate in Impenetrably Private.
Becoming a Christian doesn’t solve all your psychological problems. Becoming a Christian doesn’t mean the angst of life just suddenly evaporates from your life. Christianity does grant you a comprehensive context for understanding the whole of the human experience. And that’s hardly nothin’. But it’s not everything. God gives you the big picture; but a lot of the little picture is still yours to paint. You still have to deal with whatever it is in your life that’s causing you whatever pain or trouble it might be. If you had a crappy childhood, for instance, then becoming a Christian doesn’t instantly resolve whatever psychological legacy with which that may have left you burdened. (I wish it did!) Everyone, Christian or not, ultimately has to take out their own garbage.
You don’t have to be any more “moral” than you are right now. If God wants you to change, you’ll change. If you have habits, or predilections for behaviors that are out of line with what is best and healthiest for you, then trust that God, in God’s own time, and in God’s own way, will smooth those behaviors away from you. In the meantime, go easy on yourself. Trust the process that is being in relationship with God. You’ll be all right. I’d say the main thing about becoming a Christian is that it means you can relax. It means that everything is okay. Even you!
Don’t sweat the Bible. You don’t have to understand or feel comfortable with everything in the Bible in order to be deeply moved by huge swaths of it. The Bible is a massive, deeply complicated, and arguably infinitely complex book. It’s exactly as complicated as any given person. So don’t worry about grasping, loving, or understanding all of it. Just pay attention to the parts of it that sing to you. Read that stuff. That’s enough. It’s certainly enough for now. It’s enough forever.
Find your church. There are as many different kinds of churches as there are kinds of people. Rather than trying to fit into a church, find a church that already fits you. Keep looking till you do. (For more, see my How to Find the Right Church for You.)
You can curse. I think we both know how likely it is that you’ll continue to curse with the gusto of … well, me, for one. And that’s fine. Obviously, you don’t want to be a dinkweed about it. But God’s not a schoolmarm. He/She gets it. You’re free to use language in whatever way you’re old enough to know best. (See my I, The Comfortably Cursing Christian.)
I recommend Unfundamentalist Christians. I wrote the fourteen tenets for that group, which articulates a Christianity that keeps the Christ but loses the inanity.
Finally—and I know you already know this, but just in case—neither the Bible nor God condemns homosexuality.
For more on all this sort of thing, you might find these posts of mine worth your time:
Congratulations on this amazing new development in your life. You’ll love it. If I can be of any other assistance to you, please don’t hesitate for a moment to ask. All love to you, brother.