I haven’t really told this part of my story before, but I think now is the right time to tell it. I lost my job in 2009 primarily over my stance on … “the gay issue.”
I was working for a large evangelical mission organization at the time, and I was imagining I could have a long and satisfying career there, doing the “kingdom journalism” work I had been doing. But I had a co-worker who was fiercely anti-Emergent, and I was told one day that he’d lodged a formal complaint against me with the organization. He’d printed off what seemed like a ream of paper’s worth of things I’d posted on the Internet to make his case that I was a “heretic,” not an “evangelical” (as I should be) and that I should no longer work for the organization.
When all was said and done, it came down to one issue: homosexuality. I had left a positive comment on the very first blog post at Queermergent.com, and that comment was printed out in co-worker’s ream of evidence against me. It led to several months of “theological accountability” where I was forced to finally declare where I really stood on “the issue.”
Before that, I hadn’t spoken up much at all about my theological journey into being “open and affirming.” I had certainly shifted in my views, which had earlier included supporting the work of ex-gay friends such as Joe Hallett (Outpost Ministries in Minneapolis), Sy Rogers, and Eric Elder. (None of whom would support my position on homosexuality today, I suspect.)
As I told my “theological accountability” partner at the time, the driving question for me — and the one I’ve yet to find a satisfactory answer for — is this:
In the kingdom of God, is everyone heterosexual? Because, in my weak attempt at describing and holding onto a theology of the future (inspired, in part, by Jurgen Moltmann), I believe we should be living here and now as if the kingdom of God is already present in our midst and seeking to be a sign and foretaste of that kingdom in its fullness.
So, in the kingdom of God, is everyone heterosexual? Are there gendered bodies (male and female) having heterosexual sex in Heaven? Is that what you really believe? Because I think you’d have to believe that in order to continue to believe that the only way to live in this life is to be straight.
Or is Galatians 3:28 true? “There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. [Heterosexual or homosexual.] For you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
So I made the decision in the fall of 2009 to stand in solidarity with my growing number of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer friends. It cost me my career, at the time. My evangelical street credibility was shattered. You’ll never work in this town again, kind of thing. But the Spirit has moved me on to other things. I’m very happy doing the work that I’m doing now. So it didn’t really cost me that much. And it freed me up to finally be who I really am, find my more authentic voice, speak up for the things I truly believe in.
The silence of many of my friends from those days (and earlier), who I know disagree with me on this subject — and a whole host of other theological and political issues — is probably what hurts the most. I miss those friendships more dearly than any paycheck. But my pain is nothing compared to the oppression and injustice the LGBTQ community has suffered and continues to suffer. The fight for equality for LGBTQ folks is the primary civil rights cause of my generation. I firmly believe that. And we’ll be judged by future generations (and ultimately by the Creator) in how we respond today, in this moment, to this question: Will we stand in solidarity and fight for equal rights for all people? Or will we sit on the sidelines and allow inequality and injustice to continue? (Or worse, actively fight against equality and on the side of the oppressor?) Regardless of what you believe morally and spiritually about homosexuality, I hope every person of faith will choose to stand for human rights, the dignity of all people to live and to love and to work without discrimination.
This blog post is part of today’s Queer Theology Synchroblog. Here are the list of other participants:
Shay writes Queer Theology Synchroblog home.
Brian writes “Why Queer Liberation Must Be Queer Led”
Cindi writes Queer Theology From a Reluctantly Queer Theologian
Gabe writes The Queerness of Christ: And over Or
Christians for Justice Action write “Imagine the Possibilities Four Years From Now”.
Darrel writes “Queer Theology: Outside the Box” at the Blog of the Grateful Bear.
Ken writes Queer Theology.
Peterson writes Lazarus Come Out!
Mike writes Queer Theology Synchroblog #SCEP.
Cindy writes Creative Differences in the Image of God (this link opens a PDF)
Jules writes Being Queerly Forward
Vince writes Loving Promiscuously: A Queer Theology of Doing It
Alison writes Why I’m Queer Too
Sonnie writes God Made Me Queer
Ellen writes Through A Glass Queerly