#RESIST “You Should…” Christianity

Would you agree that there are a LOT of Christians out there “should-ing” all over other Christians? “You should do this… Maybe you should do that… What should happen is… A True Believer should hold this belief/position/moral position…” and on and on. Many times after hearing from them directly or reading other Christian’s posts along these lines, I am tempted to be discouraged. But then I remember a very relevant phrase from the lexicon of “90’s” support group cliches. I wish I could put up a big red neon blinking sign saying, “Stop ‘should-ing’ on me.”

In today’s climate, one tends to think that it’s the conservative branch of Christianity “should-ing” all over everyone else. I mean come on, they have been really good at it for decades now. But, it’s not limited to that branch in the Church. I see progressive Christians doing the same all the time. There are a couple of progressive Christian blogs that get incredibly large amounts of traffic for basically ranting against their conservative Christian siblings. Apparently, regardless of flavor, it’s popular for Christians to tell each other what they should do and how it should be done.

Of course, there are times to call out injustice, bullying, arrogance, and issues that oppress, alienate and disenfranchise. However, I believe it’s time to personally #RESIST the lazy nature of ranting and trying to impose “shoulda, coulda, woulda…” Christianity on others (regardless of whatever perspective we are coming from.)

Yes, I am saying ranting is lazy. Just an opinion :).

I confess I can be pretty should-y myself. I am not afraid to own that; you know, strong personality and whatever. I’mma do me; you do you, Boo. However, I commit to resisting the temptation to “should” on people. I want to work out my own faith by actually living out what I believe in both public and private. I want to compel with reason, motivate through inspiration … not seek to manipulate the like-minded with anger or disparage opponents (or even enemies) with scorn and shame.

Maybe you can relate.

Caution When Driving Gay

Equality Supporter Hubert The Handsome Humble Hybrid & The WonderDan take a coffee break after the unfortunate events on the Interstate. That Equality sticker is the first one I ever put on my car. It was placed there the day of the Pulse Tragedy.

As I am typing this, Dan is south of Atlanta taking a Starbucks break as he drives home from his road-trip vacation to Indiana and back. Earlier he told me that as he was heading out of Alabama (after visiting with a friend in Birmingham) when a car with a female driver and a male passenger started harassing him on the Interstate. They would pull up very close beside him, and the man had his window down screaming at Dan. Then they would drop dramatically back and then speed up very fast and ride Dan’s bumper. After that aggressive driving, they would then erratically pull back up, scream some more, speed past Dan and then rapidly slow down to 20 miles per hour causing Dan to rapidly break to not hit them. Another effect was that all manner of traffic flying up behind them had to swerve around Dan to not rear-end him. He also said that when they were beside him, they did try to run him off the road a couple of times with a hazardous game of side by side “chicken” making him have to hit the brakes to slow down hard.

After a while, Dan pulled out his phone and started to record. He was very nervous, so you don’t see much, and it appears that when they saw his phone in a recording posture, they stopped their assault.

Thank God Dan’s daughter wasn’t with him (she is staying with family up north a bit longer.)

First of all, thank God, again, that while Dan is rattled, he is fine. He knew they targeted him because of the prominent HRC Equality sticker on the back of Hubert The Handsome Humble Hybrid (my car I let him take for the trip.) There was no other reason for why these strangers on the Interstate chose to target him with their foul language and dangerous, hostile driving.

That’s not all. They anonymously called the police pretending to be a third party witness saying that HE…. my calm, peaceful Dan … had pulled a gun on the alleged car they invented in their imagination and said he was harassing another vehicle! They knew they were being recorded and needed to create a cover story.

When I heard this, I was so mad I was shaking.

Georgia state police pulled Dan over (since he had already crossed state lines) and told him about the call. They asked if there were guns in the car (of course not). All they found was a photo of Dan and I smooching in the passenger seat. The attackers were in a high profile vehicle, maybe they saw our picture? Dan said the police were very kind and understanding. They offered to call the Alabama police over to file a police report of the aggressive driver’s false 911 call. Dan declined.

I would have totally filed the report. :). Dan just wanted to come home. Totally understandable.

When he gets home, I am going to look at everything he caught on his phone to see if there is something worthy of handing off to a lawyer. What he texted me was very grainy and didn’t catch anything but the end of the altercation. I think Dan just wants to let it go.

So, I am working off my adrenaline rush by writing this post! :::laugh:::

Will I take the HRC sticker off my car? Nope. Will I seek to hide photos of Dan and I smooching when not in the privacy of our own home, absolutely not! We are who we are. We love who we love. We have free speech, which covers car window stickers, too! Bigots can try to intimidate, bully, assault and harass us but they will not win. While we won’t be stupid, I will never go back to hiding.

Also, Alabama is a gorgeous state with beautiful people. A few Big Ass Bigots are not going to ruin what I know to be the real beauty of Alabama. That said, I am not the guy that doesn’t call this mess out in the ways that I can. Writing this post is one of them.

I am so proud of Dan for keeping his cool and being a skilled and safe driver; for not taking the bait and returning hatred and rage toward these jerks. Cannot wait till he is all the way home safe and sound.

P.S. Thanks for all our Facebook friends who are still praying for him as he continues to drive home. He will be in late tonight.

A Couple of Observations Concerning Justin Lee’s Departure From GCN

It feels like I have known Justin Lee since he was a toddler! Seriously, we “met” online in 1996 (’97?) via an old-school discussion forum type thing called Bridges Across the Divide (BA). It is no longer available on the Internet… but there is an archived copy of one of the BA pages. BA is the origin of the underlying premise of the various “sides” at the foundation of the Gay Christian Network (GCN) that Justin founded sixteen years ago.

Last week a decision was announced that Justin would be leaving GCN to pursue his interests and passions. Also, GCN’s board is going to take the organization in a new (and different?) direction.

In my ex-gay ministry days, I had some unfortunate things to say about GCN and I regret that. I have always liked Justin but we never were very close. I say that only because I have no idea what is going on behind the scenes except what he and the GCN board and staff have said publicly.  I also mention this because this post is not about gossip and conspiracy theories about what did and will happen; my interest is in the aftermath of the announcements, where they are headed and am concerned about some of the pain I am seeing in the comments.

I am glad the majority of comments are gracious and seeking to understand. Plenty of anger is to be had as well, and that is dangerous if left unheard and not responded too in some fashion. Believe me, from some rather dramatic experience!… it is so tempting to just let the chips fly and dust settle before being really assertive in healthy ways. But, from my limited perspective, there is a lot of pain and it needs to be processed well with strong leadership. Wounding pain (triggered old ones or new wounds) can tear at the foundation of a situation.  Wounding pain is destructive. Redemptive pain is constructive and healing. Redemptive pain (acknowledging, identifying, treating and healing pain) is the needed focus. I would imagine that the GCN board and staff are already settled into that kind of understanding when considering the hurt and pain they are hearing.

In a nutshell: hurt people can hurt people unless the hurt one is listened to, recognized, triaged and guided toward healing. Anyone who has ever had a literal physical wound knows that sometimes the healing part of that is what can hurt the most; we do it because it is moving toward restoration and health. It takes courage and bravery, even more so the deeper the wound.

That said, hurt is hurt, yes. Grief is grief, yes. But, GCN is full of talented people who can do more than two things at once. I pray (yes, literally) the organization always remembers to be Christ and “other-centered” first, always. If they remain true to that, they will not miss a beat in GCN’s important work. There is ministry to hurt and confused people, in this situation and as a whole, that needs to happen. I am greatly encouraged that a very large majority of GCN and Justin supporters are genuinely trying to understand and support both Justin and GCN. I hope GCN and Justin both continue to respond in life-giving ways to them and to each other.

Personally, I think Justin is amazing and really do hope he has a wonderful future as an author/speaker/minister. He’s always been honest and gracious with me and I look forward to his gifts and talents continuing to bless and help God’s LGBTQ+ children.

Climbing Down Off The Hook

Found out through a link to my blog (stats tracker) that I have been blocked by the Christian accountability service Covenant Eyes. I used to promote them through Exodus :). I also found out that another “leader” in the ex-gay/conversion ministry world has blocked me on Twitter. Add these to a pretty long list of online snubs and curses and apparently, I have quite a track record with people feeling the need to block me.

And then it hit me… why am I all riled up about that? Why do I even know this? Why do I care? Because if I keep checking them and their friends out online, obviously there is “something” drawing me to read them and get riled up about it.

That’s when it hit me, they still have me on the hook. I took the bait in the past and keep taking it today.

Meaning, even though I am apparently a liberal progressive apostate now, the ex-gay/conversion ministry world still has some power over my thinking and how my attention is being directed. As much as I say I am not influenced any more by what they believe and think, here I am checking out their online musings. Not in agreement of course, just out of wanting to get riled up, a negative form of entertainment, or something. As if that will make a difference? … as if I don’t know, already, what they think and will say on just about any LGBTQ+  subject? They do not inspire me. Regularly checking their posts only reopens old, or creates new, wounds. Following them online is energizing but it is a negative energy and a wounding pain (not a healing type of pain in any way.) Completely futile; a waste of time… so why am I even the slightest bit of interested in their thoughts?

The truth is, it doesn’t matter. It’s not healthy for me to invest this time and attention on them. Unlike a fish that is caught on a fisherman’s hook, I have the ability to take myself off the hook, and will.

Today, in my quiet time and meditation, I will name each “hook,’ renounce its source and take back that power (time and attention) and redirect it toward doing good for others. I am not trying to be a hyper-spiritual weirdo about it. While I personally believe there is a spiritual energy involved with that type of meditation and personal inventory, I am doing it more because it is a specific and intentional way to take back personal power. This exercise will clarify and re-center my focus. This then will help me realize and direct positive energy and power toward life-giving priorities.

I have no doubt I am not the only one needing to pull out the hooks of a wounded past. If you can relate I hope you will join me in freeing yourself today.

Authentic Relationship Helps The Heart Grow

I love this photo. Dan looks so fun! This was right before a trike ride.

I texted Dan that it is too quiet. I miss him, them. They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder… yeah, I get that. However it’s being in intimate relationship that has made my heart grow in all kinds of positive ways.

I have bookoodles of love for Dan and Autumn when they are here, but now that they have been gone for going on five days, well, it’s just not normal. I don’t like it.  Man, these bookoodles of love seem to be growing exponentially and Dan and Autumn need to get home soon :).

Which is so weird to think about for this 49-year-old guy who had previously been “unattached” and living alone most of my life as a celibate (“spiritual” reasons). It’s taken me five days to figure out I don’t ever want to live like that perpetual single “sanctified” bachelor again. Since I have been with Dan I have not wanted that, but being by myself again for the first time in almost 9 months, I am self-aware enough to know that being alone turns me into an even weirder weirdo than usual

To fill up time, I have cleaned some, worked, painted, and named inanimate objects. Yes, I name inanimate objects like Dan’s car. Since I am driving it while they are gone (They took Hubert The Handsome Humble Hybrid with them), Dan’s car is now ‘Little Lord MercedeyTank’. It’s quite a demanding beast of a car and that title seems to fit. I’ve also paced, played loud music, taken Little Lord MercedyTank on errands, had a couple of work meetings, snuck in some exercise and yes maybe even a couple of naps.

But that’s still about me … in 9 months my heart has grown beyond me in a new way…

My arms miss his embrace. I miss his surprise laughter when I sneak attack a tickle to his neck with my scruff. I miss messing with his awesome hair. I miss picking on him for the feathers that STILL waft out of the laundry room from time to time. Miss him pulling up after a long day’s work with a giggling ten-year old in tow. Plus I miss his calm demeanor and sage advice after I say things like, “Dan! Oh #%!@ we have a ghost!” Ghost is what I named the opossum in the attic… that Dan will take care of … right Dan? … Dan, get rid of the ghost please! … Dan …?

He’s loyal, loving, caring, other-centered, not afraid to laugh and not afraid to have difficult conversations… yeah, I love him. He makes me smile and I miss his. My heart isn’t at “home” without him around.

Even though he likes RomComs and “some” Taylor Swift songs! #Blech Haven’t missed those offerings or references at all. 🙂

Being in a loving and romantic relationship makes hearts grow in many ways. I am so glad mine is not locked away anymore… WARNING: IMMINENT HALLMARK SCHMOOZY LINGO AHEAD – … I am so glad mine is not locked away anymore… and that Dan holds the key!  SEE! Told you… #Schmoozy

Is This The Face Of A Scoffer?

Last night, around midnight to 1 am #SBlackOKC tweeted…

I asked if his “rebuke” tweet was about his hateful self-serving comments he left here and here on my blog. This is our exchange to my question:

I don’t think I look like a scoffer…just happy. Isn’t Dan handsome? 🙂

Even without explicit confirmation, it’s clear Stephen (the Vice Chair of ex-gay/conversion ministry Restored Hope Network) is calling me a pitiful, deceived, turning my back on God rebellious apostate who is a perverter of The Way. Stephen also calls me more names like “scoffer” and “victim.” This is in addition to all the other names and incredibly negative attributes he has assigned to me publicly, and privately, in the past. He really can’t help himself; he really does think he knows more about me and my relationship with God than I do. Stephen truly believes that it is somehow his righteous calling to behave in such a way.

Stephen, and really anyone who agrees with him, I am not a scoffer. I have no interesting in “jeering” at you or treating you with derision. I am a 23 year veteran of the ex-gay/conversion ministry world. I am definitely a critic; an opponent of the fraudulent ministry you are conducting. I escaped that world, kept my faith, kept my sanity and know the true life-giving love of God and others now. The truth is, you, other ex-gay/conversion ministry leaders (and even my past self as one) didn’t live up to our promises. We made promises in God’s name we couldn’t keep because they are not of Him. Nothing ever changed except it appeared the longer one is in that world, the more angry, alone and bitter they become. That’s not the fruit of the Spirit, that is the fruit of an oppressed and broken heart. I tried it all. I sat under every major leader’s teachings, mentorship and resources for over two decades… it didn’t and doesn’t work no matter how many times you say it does.

I am not an enemy of God. I don’t even think of myself as your enemy. But I am definitely an enemy of stigmatized religion and the ex-gay/conversion ministry it produced to give cover for those who hate LGBTQ+ people in the church and at large.

I am glad Stephen is moving along. Even so, there are many more like him out there. Their numbers are dwindling rapidly as authentic love continues to win over and liberate hearts.