Tag Archives: coming out

It is a Choice (for Love)

The next time you find yourself thinking or wondering about “choice” involved in sexual and family diversity, I invite you to shift the lens of your question a bit. Choices ARE made. Think about the choices that your LGBT family members, friends and neighbors make, and the courageous souls that make them.

 

Across the globe, we face death, imprisonment, family abandonment, religious excommunication, bullying, teen homelessness, job or housing loss, and the current realities of vastly inequitable social benefits. Across the U.S. we face cruel campaigns to end or preempt public discussions about marital rights, such as in the upcoming constitutional amendment in Minnesota.

Yet, we LGBT citizens  choose to be and to talk and to share and to work for our common good. In Uganda and elsewhere, our brothers and sisters choose to face — potentially — the death penalty.

Yes, we make choices.

What lure to life and goodness, to authenticity and necessary human dignity would call us to endure such dangers? What convictions of personal need and promise of Divine blessing could be so worthy that we are willing to take up the cross of forging public space and enduring such shaming scrutiny in today’s world?

Of course there  are choices being made!  Christian Scripture calls this moral force “counting the cost.”

We do choose greater integration of soul and body when we build loving relationships with those whom we celebrate sexually.

We do choose greater honesty amid our communities by coming out, and by so doing we advance a more godly and objective understanding of creation’s diversity.

Those of us from conservative religious upbringings often come to a faith crisis in which we choose to place a greater trust in the God who transcends human bias than in the views of the day (even those passed on for some time).  For me, it was choosing to trust Christ’s grace and the clear fruits of the Spirit known in my loving partnership.

And most of us choose to show up at work, at church, in volunteer responsibilities or to family obligations choosing to share our gifts and talents.  If we’re somewhat out, that could mean discrimination or danger; if we’re not, we can accrue the burdens of hidden truths and divided lives.

Yet, the choice for love is always worth it.  Discerned choices for honesty with loved ones and fellow citizens alike flow from love.  It is good for us.  We see the momentum of advancing social freedoms today in the U.S.  There is an oxygen-like nature to such honesty. Perhaps this is what is so contagious that fearful opponents continue in panic to  condemn.   We are being honest about Creation’s vast diversity, the greatness of a God whose love takes many forms, and the liberation of releasing age-old sinful fears of self and other.  What gifts for the well-being of all!  What a privilege to choose these things.

LOVE stirs within us as we forge our lives in relationship to God, uphold and shape tradition, engage in meaningful milestone rituals, serve our nation, nurture and bless children and tirelessly engage in community service.  LOVE stirs within us as we refuse to give up our dreams of a life fully lived in holy self-determination (Baptists call it soul liberty) and family obligations and blessings.

The courageous people pictured above deserve our respect and solidarity.  Organizations like Other Sheep and The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission might be a good start for research and support.

You may not live in such a physically dangerous climate for LGBT people.  You may not know through personal, first-hand experience what it is like to face such hostility from those who hate your very existence or are scandalized by your CHOICE to be honest and present to your Life.  You may not know how fragile our gains seem to be, and that perhaps LGBT people in your life never feel completely safe and respected even here in the U.S.  You can choose to listen and learn about this.  You can choose to be our advocate  in the public square even if you personally do not agree with our choices.

Perhaps in your current moral convictions, you feel same-sex relationships are inferior. Or, horrible.  Or, dangerous.  Given the weight of tradition handed down in many quarters, that is understandable.  But you, too, have a choice.

Will you pass on prejudices unexamined in the light of testimony and grace?  Or will you choose to allow your mind to be renewed?

Will you stand by silently as your loved ones, co-workers and neighbors battle against second-class citizenship (and its slippery slope)?  Or will you choose to “love your neighbor as yourself”?

It is a choice.

For love.

 

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A Testimony on Lesbian “Lifestyle” and My Faith

From a Facebook Correspondent:

I just read a note about Diversity, Equality, and trusting God. 

Your bio indicates, ” In 1999, she became the first “out” member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community to be approved for ordination in the American Baptist Churches – USA.”

How does your lifestyle choice affect your faith?

Thanks for the time to read this…

My answer:

Hi, brother.

Well, that’s a LONG answer:) In short, I’d say that the process of coming to peace and acceptance of my sexual identity required much wrestling, praying, studying and trusting. In the face of tradition’s teachings and the prejudices of our day, it is only the GRACE of God which can nurture and guide this stage of faith development for the lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender person.

As I began to take God’s grace and priorities recorded in the Bible more seriously, I began to see and trust the patterns of Scripture. Over and over again, the people of Israel (especially the prophets), Jesus, and the early church heard God’s call to greater inclusion, bigger hearts, and challenging of the “external” forms of holiness and purity. Paul’s teachings on legalism, especially, remind us of the human temptation so alive in the early church — to judge by the form of things (often a source of national or religious pride) rather than the fruits of the Spirit.

So, to sum it up: It took a great leap of faith to trust that my experience of myself and my loving partnership was a part of the natural diversity of this world (not changeable or necessary to change). It took much study and prayer to see the deeper insights of Scripture. I accept that judgment of homosexuality is an example of a social prejudice handed down over time (as evidenced in the small number of Scripture texts about it) but that this is not the timeless truth of God. I trust that the moral force of Scripture is on the side of a God who chooses, calls and blesses whoever God wills. I trust that God evaluates same-sex AND heterosexual relationships today based on their virtues, not on the genitals or gender of those involved.

… hope this is a helpful view into my journey.

Blessings,
Jacki

 

This BRIEF answer is only a glimpse into a the graced and empowering journey that I and so many other LGBT and allies of faith have taken.  Learn more at Befriending the Bible: Reading Condemnation with CARE” in Chicago on September 8.

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A Rainbow GPS (God Placement System)

I have the fabulous honor of attending a teleseminar series on transformational writing this week.  One of Christine Kloser’s top-notch guests is Lisa Nichols, author of No Matter What.    She took my breath away- such a spirited blend of glorious charisma and authentic humility.   Find out more at http://motivatingthemasses.com/.

One thing I continue to find on this “living well” journey… I am surrounded by amazing peers and mentors who support my desire for personal transformation and commitment to being excellent in my service of others.    Nichols introduced me to the phrase “God Placement System,” and I’ve really been taking that in.  I am aware that often in this life we find ourselves needing to trust that the GPS is working properly.  Sometimes our preconceived notions point us in other directions.  And sometimes others might challenge our GPS readings.

Most of my LGBT clients, students and readers across the country know what it is to doubt their GPS. And, to have others doubt their GPS.  One of the richest blessings of any faith journey is to have been tested by such doubt.  This refines us  and our ability to discern which voice is truly God’s, that voice which is truly life-giving.  We are a gift to Christ’s church precisely because we have challenged the idolatries of traditional norms and dared to trust that tradition is not God.

We can move through times of confusion and challenge with a graceful power if we depend on the unconditional love of the Holy Spirit to guide us.  As we move into the season of Pentecost and Pride this June, I will be meditating here especially on the scriptures and lessons which have nourished my journey as a lesbian Christian pastor and coach.

Are there theme or texts you would especially like to examine together?  Let me know, and we’ll grapple with that together.

 

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You Cannot Change the Circumstances…

“You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself. That is something you have charge of.” — Jim Rohn

 

This is a wonderfully life-giving and empowering reminder to me.  I do not hear it as piety but as prophetically wise, not as quietism but responsibility-taking, not as escapism but as incredible rigor.  My clients and students who are working on sustainable activism, biblical self-care,  forgiveness or coming out as gay or lesbian Christians are thriving because they are learning what they REALLY have charge of — their “energy leadership.”

This approach – quite suitable for Lent —  yokes self-examination with the tasks of transformation of circumstances.  It makes the interior life the starting point.

I join others from time to time in the critique of Western individualism and the corrosive impact it has had when taken to the extreme.  But I will not settle for a faith and a justice-calling that does not take seriously — reverentially — that resilience that can be cultivated only when we remember the limits of what we have charge of…

It is, I would go so far to say, GOOD NEWS.

What do you think?

 

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