Monday, 26 February 2007

Safe to Come out?

Whilst I wait for surgery on my back I have the 'joy' of watching more telly than is helpful - but just occasionally there is something really worth watching.

This morning the gay rapper Qboy presented a program about young boys coming out at school. Aged about 14/15 these kids find the inner integrity to be open with friends and family at a really young age. In fact, probably exactly the right age - during puberty as we begin to realise who we are. The program showed that it is not always easy as some of them experienced worse bullying after coming out - but even being able to come out so young does show that the level of wider acceptance makes this more possible.

Things were very different for me and for countless others. School was hard. I lived as a shadow of myself. I looked all around me for any positive role models - in fact, for any models at all. It was a big enough step for me to admit that I went to Church - let alone that I'm a poof!

There is something really important here.
For me - the only prompts about sexuality and being gay came from church - and they were all negative. Its not that my home church was really vocally against homosexuality - but more that they didn't really say much at all - but what was said was prejudiced. This was the only place I heard a voice on the issue. All my self questions trying desperately to understand if I was sinful, if it was evil, illegal or dirty - found there answers from church and set me on a path of emotional pain.

At this pivotal time in life - realising that I fancied boys, I learnt that I was evil and so emotionally I chose to shut down and tried everyday to be 'normal'.

As society became more accepting and more vocally positive, my prompts became confused and I was left stuck in the middle between my faith and the world in which I live.
It was only when I went to theological college that I started to explore my faith, to ask questions and dig a little at those pious statements like 'hate the sin, love the sinner'.

The place I'm in now is much more healthy, but I've struggled. I cannot emphasis enough the importance of what local churches and denominations as a whole say about sexuality. For the young in our churches it is vital to find a place that, if not accepting, can at least be questioning and open.

It is becoming clear that the gap between 'church' and society on this issue is broadening every day. This is not an argument to force the church to be accepting, as we are called to follow Christ and our decisions should be based on this. For me, the fact that I follow Christ is what makes me clear that we are called to be totally accepting of all people. I am created gay and my sexuality has much to offer the church!

This gap between church and society creates a huge problem for young gay Christians. Where do they find there prompts for life? Where do they find the building blocks for emotional well-being? What does there spiritual self have to say about sexuality?

Not in the church.

To dismiss homosexuality, to ignore it, to hope it is "not in our church" - does much more damage than we can imagine.

Equally - to say homosexuality is fine, "it's not a problem", does the same - it dismisses the questions and the difficulty of 'coming out'.

As people of faith - any faith, we are people of questions. We are people who are on a journey seeking to explore our humanity and our relationship with God. Our sexuality is not something beyond these questions!

My faith has become much more questioning and as a result has become less certain and much more vulnerable - but I think this is healthy and I think it is Christ like.

Our sexuality is one part of us - but an important part, as it is key to our emotional and relational selves. As the church, we need to be understanding of the impact we can have when we talk about or ignore this issue.

It's a rant - I know - but that's what blogging lets us do!!
Reflections welcome!!


Lawrence said...

Martin, thanks for this! It's powerful and moving - and important! Thrilled you're part of the URC blogging community. Sorry I've only just got round to updating the ring - but you're on. Hope it brings you traffic. Best wishes.

Jason Lewis said...

I am new to your blog - and this is powerful. Very powerful. Please start writing more. I really am enjoying your writing. I am from the United States. Again, please keep blogging or at least direct me towards a blog that has more on these topics. Thanks so much!