Note: During this BETA period of the blog, I will occasionally be offering selections from my recent writings. This selection is reprinted from Soulfully Gay (Integral Books/Shambhala). All Rights Reserved.
Today, a friend forwarded me a link to a blog by a young man in his early twenties who describes himself as a Christian and says he’s “turning away from homosexuality and toward God.” What can I say to a young Christian, when I myself have chosen a path outside the institutional religion?
The first thing that comes to mind for me to say to a young man in this situation is that I will not preach to you. I will not tell you that once you learn to accept your gayness you will be happier. I will not encourage you to join a gay Christian church or give any other sort of unsolicited advice. There are plenty of well-intentioned folks who are sure to try to fix the way you are. I don’t think you need to hear another voice encouraging you to just keep your chin up and be happy.
The second thing that comes to mind is to tell you that whatever choices you make about how to express or not express your sexuality, you are a wonderful, beautiful, precious gift to the world. Be the gift that you are. Nobody else can bring that gift to the world except you.
Don’t just think about homosexuality. Feel what comes up for you around your sexuality. Be with your feelings, whatever they are. You can do no good by denying them. You may not know what those feelings are, and some of your deepest feelings may be so deeply buried that they are a mystery to you. Get help to be with your feelings from a therapist you are comfortable with and from friends with different points of view.
A word about friends: you are likely to change your opinions about God, the Bible, Christianity, homosexuality, sex, George W. Bush, and a whole host of other things many, many times. Your true friends will stick with you whether you are conservative or liberal, Christian or ex-Christian, gay or ex-gay. It’s a cliché, but your true friends will accept you for you.
You are on a difficult path—bringing together your spirituality and sexuality—and you don’t have to have all the answers. It’s okay to be frightened, confused, and unsure where to turn. It’s okay to question those who seem totally confident in their beliefs about homosexuality or Christianity. It’s okay to doubt the dogmas of gay activists. It’s okay to question the dogmas of the people in your Bible study group.
It’s okay to flip-flop in your attitudes toward homosexuality—one moment thinking it’s awesome with a hot man’s body pressed against yours and the next praying to God to make you straight. It’s okay to wonder if your faith (whether in God or the dogmas of gay community) is genuine or if you’re just kidding yourself.
What’s not okay is to latch on to certainties that promise to make your life easier if you will only deny a little bit of reality. What’s not okay is to just keep repeating something over and over again to yourself, figuring that if you just keep with it, you will eventually start to believe it.
It’s okay to not know what to think about your homosexuality or God or the Universe. I heard Thomas Moore say recently that he doesn’t know if everything in life happens for a reason. He said, “What I don’t know, I don’t know.” I liked the sound of that. Enter deeply into the profound mysteries of life. Don’t deny them. It’s not always necessary to try to figure them out. Just try to accept the state of unknowing.