Here Goes Nothing

I’m finally pulling the trigger and being open about what’s been in my heart for a long time, over a year if I’m really being honest with myself. While the non-affirming Side-B gay Christian community has been a great home for me for the last few years, the truth is that I don’t believe God condemns same-sex love and same-sex relationships. I recently went back and read some of my old blog posts and and realized that, like Laura Jean talks about, it was about fear. I was afraid of being wrong. I was afraid of letting myself off the hook and making my theology about me. It’s been a very gradual process that really began as soon as I started researching the arguments for and against an affirming stance.

You can see in my posts as far back as May 2015 that I was on the fence. I wanted to hold to the beliefs I was raised in and hold to a strict view of scripture. I wanted to be a good Christian and a good example of how someone can be gay and still a follower of Christ. But I also wanted to love people fully and not put restrictions on them. I didn’t want my other gay friends to always wonder if I was secretly judging them and their relationships. It was an internal struggle that was often just below the surface of many of my posts around that time.

Then, in early 2016, I began a long distance relationship with a guy I met at the GCN conference in January. As both of us were dedicated to being Side B, we committed to be celibate for the duration of our relationship and (mostly) maintained that. However, there were a lot of bumps along the way and we eventually parted ways later that year. As this was my first romantic relationship, I finally understood what it was like to be able to fully love someone without having to hold back for fear of my affections being misinterpreted. I could flirt and laugh and tell him how much he meant to me instead of feigning indifference like I often felt the need to do in other relationships. It was a wonderful time in my life even if it had to end. Through this experience, though, I realized that I really did want a romantic relationship. Friendships are wonderful and I hope that no matter what, I’m always a good friend to the people in my life, but at least for me, friendships were not satisfying my relational desires.

Then, in October 2016, I moved to Austin with my very good friends Aaron and Steph. This was and continues to be a wonderful experience. I love them and their girls so very much and I can’t express how happy it’s made me to be part of a family again. However, it also made it clear what I was missing. While my relationship with the U’Rens fulfills nearly all of my emotional and relational needs, I still find something missing. I still desire that singular person who I can love fully without worrying about crossing boundaries or making them uncomfortable. I still desire physical affection that just isn’t feasible in this situation. I hope that I will always be part of their family, but I also think this arrangement isn’t sustainable long term. I don’t have any plans or desires to make a change at the moment, but at the same time I realize that it’s coming at some point in the future.

In early 2017, I attended the wedding of my good friends Joe and Andrew. I found that I held no hesitations about attending their wedding and celebrating their love for each other. I know many people who hold to traditional Christian sexual ethics struggle over attending same-sex weddings, but I had zero doubts about it. This realization made me question what I believed to be true because I was still trying to hold on to those Side-B non-affirming beliefs, but at the same time, when it came down to those beliefs or supporting my friends, the answer was clear.

And the final straw came about six months ago. I was sitting in church listening to Pastor Jen preach on Peter’s vision in Acts 10. In this story, God speaks to Peter and says “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” While I’m not one to claim to hear God’s voice or to know His thoughts, I had the clearest impression I’ve ever had that God was telling me that He felt the same way about same-sex relationships. It just seemed to make so much sense. It’s a common interpretation to understand the food in the vision as a metaphor for the uncircumcised members of the early church. At that time, there was rampant debate about whether these gentiles should be allowed to be fully engaged in what God was doing in the early church and Peter’s vision confirmed that they should. To me, LGBTQ people in the church fall into the same category. It all just makes so much sense to me. I remember sitting there in my seat and crying because I felt God convicting me of the harm I had caused by holding to non-affirming beliefs when I knew that wasn’t God’s heart.

Also, along the way I’ve been experiencing a major (and somewhat unrelated) shift in my theology. It has really begun to hit home that both Jesus and Paul say that the two greatest commandments are to love God and love others and that the rest of the law is fulfilled by doing this (Matthew 22:36-40, Galatians 5:13-14). As long as we’re actually doing those things, I think that’s what’s really important. Some people might say this is taking the easy road because you no longer have to worry about following the law of scripture, but, while it’s definitely more simple than making sure you’re abiding by all the rules, it’s much harder if you’re really evaluating all of your actions and decisions to make sure that you’re actually expressing love to the best of your ability.

I think many Christians look at the verses I mentioned and assume that whatever actions they feel compelled to take are the most loving. They decide, whether as a result of their own desires or through a commitment to tradition or what they’ve been taught, that the Bible and, therefore God, requires them to act a certain way and assume that means they’re loving God and their neighbor. At this point, all use of logic is left out of the equation and refusing to bake a cake for a wedding suddenly becomes the loving thing to do. Maybe it’s a mistake to bring logic into it, but for me, it makes a lot more sense to bake the best damn cake you can and then go home and think about why the Bible seems to forbid same-sex relationships while also requiring us to love others to the best of our ability.

Since all this happened, I’ve basically just been looking for the right time to speak up. I’ve been feeling guilty because not only do I feel like I’ve been lying to my Side B friends, but I also feel like I should be speaking what I now feel is the truth regarding my friends who are shunned by conservative Christianity. I was finally inspired by a post by Devon Bailey in which he expresses his regret for his past words against his LGBTQ brothers and sisters. I feel a similar regret for things I’ve said in the past and looking back at some of my old blog posts, I’d be ashamed for many of the people I call friends to read them (side note: I’ll be going back and posting disclaimers on these posts to mention my theological shift and point to this post).

I know a lot of people will probably read this and see it as selfishness. I mentioned that friendships weren’t satisfying my needs like they once were and I know many of you will see this as a mistake that I’m making to fulfill my own desires and for all I know, you could be right. Another thing I’ve learned over the last couple years is to accept doubt. To be willing to admit that I don’t know everything and that I never will. All I can do is make the best decisions with the information I have and that’s what I’m doing.

6 thoughts on “Here Goes Nothing

  1. Matthew, as a straight woman raised in a liberal church, I will never fully understand the internal struggles you’ve had, or the courage it took you to write these words. But I see you, and I support you, and I see no reason for anything but joy in fully accepting yourself as you are.

  2. Thank you, Matthew, for sharing your heart and thoughts and faith and doubts.I went and am going through a similar process myself, and this resonates with me on so many levels–especially accepting some doubt.

  3. Dear Matthew:

    Please don’t let this entry be your final word on this powerful subject. You have been on a remarkable spiritual journey; William James might even call it a “conversion” experience. Those of us who have followed your path with interest would like to hear more about the steps that follow. Are you still able to find fulfillment in your romantic relationship and in Micah’s words, “walk humbly with your God?”

    While I do not share your faith in the divinity of scripture as written, I do admire your rectitude. You may be interested in a pithy little book by C.S. Lewis, called, The Four Loves which speaks to the ideas that you explore so courageously here in your blog. I won’t spoil it, but Lewis begins by asking (as you ask above) how one is to fulfil God’s commandment to love. I eagerly await the continuation of your journey . . .
    Yours in fellowship,

    • Thanks commenting! I guess I don’t feel like there has been much movement in this area of my life recently which is why I haven’t really posted much, but I will say that I’m in a great relationship with a wonderful man named Bret and I have continued to grow in my confidence that a loving same sex relationship is something that pleases God. I look back and wonder how I could have ever doubted it. I know that it’s not for everyone and there are different paths for each person, but I hope no one out there is allowing another person’s conscience to dictate how they live their own life.

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