Tuesday, September 15, 2009

My Parents

This past weekend, I had not one but two phone conversations with my parents about the two DVDs I recently sent them: Through My Eyes: An Eye-Opening Experience and Bridging the Gap: Conversations on Befriending our Gay Neighbours. They have now watched both DVDs. To my great pleasure they are enthusiastic about both, especially Bridging the Gap.

In fact, my parents can't stop talking about Bridging the Gap. Mom has now posted a quote from one of the speakers in the video on the board in her classroom at school. Dad has discussed the video with their pastor and has encouraged him to watch it. They already ordered a copy of their own, and they shared with me their hope--pending their pastor's approval--to begin hosting "showings" of the DVD and discussions of its subject matter with couples in their church.


This is amazing! I am so eager to see how widely they are able to present and discuss this DVD among their conservative congregation in small town, Texas. My hat is truly off to the good folks at New Directions for their labor of love assembling the speakers and producing this video. What a joy to be able to share this resource with my family without a drop of reservation and to see them latch on to it so enthusiastically!

With Through My Eyes, my parents were somewhat less enthusiastic, but discussing the video did bring up a (for them) emotional conversation topic. My parents' voices became shaky--almost weepy--as they broached the topic. They noted that several of the gay Christians who told their personal stories in the DVD expressed a sad sense of "missing" the evangelical churches they were once a part of. My parents put to me the question: Joe, do you miss the evangelical church?

While there were many topics we might have discussed that could have been emotional for me, this one actually wasn't. Or isn't. I shared with my parents that I did know people with stories similar to the ones the referenced in the video--people who parted with the evangelical church not because they disagreed on theology but because they just didn't want to continue the exhausting fight against their orientations. I have had friends do this, and honestly it makes a lot of sense to me why: trying to live counter to your orientation is a crushing task for many.

But if living counter to ones orientation is difficult, living counter to one's faith presents it's own difficulties as well. While living in agreement with your orientation can bring relief for a time, true peace can only come from--to borrow a term from my friends at New Directions--living in congruence with one's faith.

I shared with my parents that I did not part ways with the evangelical church because I'm gay. When the evangelical church I had been attending when I began dating C asked me to leave, I left without argument because I had come to the realization that I was not evangelical. In particular, I came to understand that I and evangelical Christians view the Bible very differently.

I reiterated to my parents that my orientation is not what keeps me out of evangelical churches nowadays--rather, it's my faith. If I were not gay, I wouldn't return to the evangelical church. I do miss some of the relationships I had while I was part of evangelical churches, but I don't miss the evangelical church per se or long to be reunited with it.


D.J. Free! said...

Joe, that's AWESOME! So exciting! Based upon your review, I ordered a copy a couple of weeks ago, and J and I loved it! We even suggested OUR church use it as a resource to discussing our approach to gays. So Matthew (our pastor) ordered it, and is going to see if we can work it into our plans for the year!

Aaaaand . . .we left it w/ J's parents last weekend when we went for a visit. They've already watched it, and they liked it! I'm hoping we can discuss it more in depth soon.

As for missing the church, would you say that you at least miss the community? A group of people who are desperate for God, and live their lives in submission to him? It really is a noble, beautiful thing. I too disagree w/ the major tenets of modern evangelicalism, so I no longer call myself an evangelical. And I don't miss it either, in the sense that now that I know what I know, and see what I see, I don't see how I could go back to that particular way of life. However, it was very special, and it was meaningful and substantial, and sometimes I do miss those days when there was peace b/w other Christians and myself - before I became a heretic ;)

Ameriqueer said...

Amazing. I love this post.

seithman said...

I reiterated to my parents that my orientation is not what keeps me out of evangelical churches nowadays--rather, it's my faith.

I can totally identify with this statement, as well as the need to make it. I've had several people assume that my sexual orientation is the only reason I changed my faith. That simply isn't true. I came to see the world, the divine, and life in general in a completely different way. That way of seeing things meant a different theology and therefore a different faith.

Some people seem to struggle with that idea for some reason.

About the only thing I miss about those times is the opportunities it provided me to work with youth. Of course, there are alternative opportunities for working with you I could pursue now. I just haven't had or made the time to do so.

Joe Moderate said...

Wow, no kidding, DJ? Man, this DVD is making some serious waves. :-) Awesome!

I'm eager to hear how J's parents respond. Do tell!

And yes, I do miss the community... sorta. I've done some thinking about it. When I was evangelical, we had a phenomenal community--for evangelicals. We were great for people in our club, but not great at all for people outside it. I do look back and remember the good times I experienced as someone on the inside. But when I take off the rose-colored glasses, I remember also the friends who we left by the wayside because they didn't fit with us theologically or otherwise. Too depressed. Not "intellectual" enough. Too Catholic.

I dunno, man. I kinda feel like the evangelical communities I once loved so dearly were, well, cliques.

The one exception being the ex-gay evangelical circles. Man, those were amazing mixes of misfits. Fierce friends.

Wow, if the church could be like that, it would be amazing.

Then again, our ex-gay circles were sooooo volatile LOL


Topher said...

I was most struck by the same sentence picked up on by seithman. While I was kicked out of church while I still considered myself, I feel I could not return now even if I were straight.

You failed to mention how your parents reacted to your saying you don't really miss the church. Were they saddened by that news?