I don’t know if I’ve ever experienced quite the time of total transparency in community more so then I did last night. The topic was Slang, Slurs and Sex: The stopping points that separate us from each other and the Father. I opened our time last night the only way I knew how—by being as raw and honest as I possibly could:
“When my three best friends came out to me in those three consecutive months I ran away because the only thing that went through my head every time I looked at them was two naked dudes banging. And they were lesbians! Shouldn’t that have turned me on instead? But it wasn’t about them, it was about the image I had groomed myself to be grossed out by. And I didn’t know what to do. That was my original stopping point.”
And from that moment on, for the next hour and a half a group of us that consisted of a Monk (yes, a literal Monk), gay Christian men and women, celibate folks with a same-sex attraction and straight conservative Christian men and women transparently poured our hearts out about what it was like growing up, living and exploring our own lives through our own contexts surrounding our unique experiences, words (language said by us or to us) and community—or forced lack there of—of what it was like to originally enter into this journey that is faith and sexuality in culture.
Some of the night was not pretty. There were many tears, questions (wonderful and sincere questions that in everyday life people on both ends would be scared to honestly ask the other for the fear of a very harsh response/alienation) and moments of bewilderment as we all at one point or another realized, “I can’t believe I just said (or told that story) out loud.” And strangely enough, it finally felt right for many of us to step out like that for the first time. We all got it. We all got that this is what our intentional community of living in the tension is all about. Learning to listen and love those opposite than ourselves, even (and willfully) amongst our differences.
“Your [Andrew’s] stopping point was the vision in your head. Mine was a clergy member raping me every Wednesday night in the Parish House and then going to church on Sunday and listening to him talk about righteous living.”
“I’ll be honest, community makes things easier when others around you are similar. This is my Christian community and it’s easier to continue in it, in agreement with everyone else surrounding one’s ‘coming out’ rather than be the outsider to go against the grain.”
“You never think about God the same way after you’re treated a certain way by believers, no matter how much you try and try to reclaim that pureness throughout your life.”
“We [the Church/small groups] seem to value not really knowing each other in community because it’s nicer and easier that way. You ever notice with small groups when a big secret is revealed within “community”, it usually splits the group or someone leaves because the truth in that sacred moment and the subsequent “what happens now” that comes after is too difficult or painful or uncomfortable for people to stick around.”
At the end of the night I realized that each of our faith journeys after the ‘outing’ (whether that is a gay person putting themselves out there by coming out or a straight person putting themselves out there by standing by them no matter what), our faith is seriously tested at that point—a defining moment in many people’s lives of who and what God and his believers are.
We must all work overtime to deliberately deconstruct those potential moments by teaching others who have not been through such an experience what it means to purposefully bring forth a cultural shift away from traditional imputation and onto intentional constructive tension.