And I should care…why??

Because, to be honest, it hurts.

Deeply.

So, why should I care so much?

Why should I care about the Church?
Why should I care about having a “conversation” with the Church?
Why should I care when the motivators for and feeders of healthy conversation are ignored and I find myself, instead, swimming in a sea of negativity?
Why should I care when the church kills the conversation?

Why should I care so much?

Why should I care about the church and the meaningful ministry it can have in the LGBTQ community?

Why should Trevor care??

Why should I care when it was at the hands of “good church people” that I was sexually abused?
Because, it was also at the hands of other good Church people that I was shown love and concern.

Why should I care when it was at the hands of “good church people” that I was placed in even more frightening vulnerable situations?
Because, it was at the hands of other good Church people that I was shown the proper attention and care.

Why should I care about the church lumping my gay sexual orientation in with pedophiles and rapists?
Because, it was at the hands of heterosexual men that I was abused, and the message needs to be shared that straight men may be just as risky as gay men.

Why should I care when it was at the hands of “good church people” that I was introduced to pornography, specifically gay porn?
Because, it was at the hands of other good Church people that I was shown what it meant to live a holy, circumspect life.

Why should I care when it was at the hands of “good church people” that I was bullied because I was a skinny and somewhat effeminate boy growing up?
Because, it was at the hands of other good Church people that I was shown full acceptance and value.

Why should I care when I try to offer some new vocabulary to the church, and in response they just tell me with great contempt that I’m being “politically correct?”

Why should I care when I am told by my specific faith family that I just need to move on because I don’t totally agree with their stance?

Why should I care so much about the Church?

Why??

Deep roots.

-Trevor

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The Back Side of “No”

She said “no.”

I get it. I understand.

I will honor that answer.

My wife and I have been having a conversation about what I have written about here and here and here. Not only that, but she reads my blog posts, so she is also fully aware of what I’ve shared here about all of my journey. Yesterday, in a brief exchange about my desire to pursue some kind of ministry specifically to the LBGTQ community, she replied “I am nowhere ready for anything like that now, and I don’t know when [I will be].” She knows that such a thing would necessitate me “outing” myself in the process. And, further, she understands that the family would be “outed” as well. That’s a tough pill to swallow.

I must admit that her answer took the wind out of my sails for a few hours. I work an evening shift job, and it was difficult for me to stay on task and finish the evening strong. It really was disheartening. It was my mistake to get my hopes up so high without doing due diligence in fully understanding her state of mind. My bad.

But, I’m OK with that response from her, and I will honor her wishes for these reasons:
I love her.
I respect her.
I know how threatening such a thing is for her.

But most importantly, I’m OK with that because my most precious calling in life is to be an honorable husband to her…something I will spend the rest of my life doing to make up for how terribly I’ve screwed up in the past.

So, I trust that those “conversations” that I’ve talked about the last few days actually happen.

I’ll be watching and praying…from the back side of “no.”

-Trevor

The Conversation Begins: Motivators and Positives

Background: A few days ago, I wrote about the beginning of an important conversation in my life. It is all built around my call, my drive, my need, my passion to have a place of ministry that positively impacts and makes a difference in other people’s lives. That call, drive, need, and passion is informed by the heartbreaking statistics of young people choosing an unhealthy life or death…informed by the loneliness, disconnectedness, and “discountedness” that many closeted LGBTQ people of all ages, genders, and ethnicities attest to experiencing in the church and in her educational institutions…and is ultimately informed by the love of Christ and a deep abiding belief that we (the Body of Christ – the Church) can do better than condemning all LGBTQ people to hell. Much better.

The process of communicating on this topic in my particular context is a slow process, and intentionally so. It carries both negatives and positives. Yesterday’s post dealt with only some stressors and negatives of the conversation…today, I am addressing some motivators and positives.

It’s about God’s love. Hopefully, we can all agree on this one fact…that God loves everyone. No exceptions. It’s time that my faith family start sharing Christ’s love in the way that He always did…with everyone. Christ was particularly famous for loving on “sinners,” those whom the organized religion of the day considered as outcasts, unclean, and unholy. It was those people who Christ loved to spend time with. He hung out at their houses, he went to their parties, he attended their weddings. He wasn’t scared that their particular issue would rub off onto him, because he understood that his close relationship with his Father would keep him centered in those moments. He embraced the messiness of sharing the Father’s love; and somehow that didn’t discourage him, but it, in fact, motivated him to do more. It’s time that His Body decide to do the same.

It’s about people. This conversation is not about some abstract idea. It is about flesh and blood. Let’s move the conversation from “what if” to “what is.” It’s about the young person in your youth group at church who is silently and painfully dying inside. It’s about that college student who needs someone to walk with them as they navigate this most difficult time of their life. It’s about those single people in the church who everyone is always trying to get married off so that they can be a part of “God’s plan for marriage”…when, in fact, they know they can’t do that. It’s about people like me, who are doing everything in their power to make a mixed-orientation marriage thrive. It’s about people who have never been in church, who have walked away from the church, and even about those who hate the church. It’s about people…children, parents, grandchildren, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, friends, and enemies. It’s about your son. It’s about your daughter. It’s about you.

It’s about truth. Not some silly pie in the sky “God-loves-you-and-has-a-wonderful-plan-for-your-life” kind of “truth.” But an honest, transparent, tenuous, and vulnerable truth about life and faith. An acknowledgement that life is messy…real messy. And so is faith. An honest confession that one’s life and faith are journeys which will enjoy a scarcity of long term non-negotiables. That no human alive or dead really has it all together or figured out. A celebration of the reality that we need each other, and that together we can discover the truth that we each individually need. It’s about the fact that we know that God does NOT hate fags. It’s about the fact that, just because you happen to be LGBTQ does not mean that you are a threat to any child. It’s about entering the conversation without any preconceived ideas about the other person. It’s about the church shutting it’s mouth and opening it’s ears…which will ultimately and unavoidably result in open hearts. That is the perfect greenhouse effect to bring about the saving of lives and hearts.

In some contexts and in some ways, this conversation will be like a party. I will meet people. I will encounter Him. And we’ll all get along just grand!

I’m ready for that!

-Trevor

The Conversation Begins: Stressors and Negatives

A few days ago, I wrote about the beginning of an important conversation in my life. It is all built around my call, my drive, my need, my passion to have a place of ministry that positively impacts and makes a difference in other people’s lives. That call, drive, need, and passion is informed by the heartbreaking statistics of young people choosing an unhealthy life or death…informed by the loneliness, disconnectedness, and “discountedness” that many closeted LGBTQ people of all ages, genders, and ethnicities attest to experiencing in the church and in her educational institutions…and is ultimately informed by the love of Christ and a deep abiding belief that we (the Body of Christ – the Church) can do better, much better.

The process of communicating on this topic in my particular context is a slow process, and intentionally so. It carries both negatives and positives. This post deals with only the stressors and negatives of the conversation…I will write about some positives in the next day or two.

I have to make sure that my biological family is ready. If I continue with this conversation, then I must have “buy-in” from all my immediate family members. My wife and children have to be “OK” with me taking this step. And, they have to be prepared for the aftermath. Unfortunately, they will face some negative and very harsh statements and treatment at the hands of the “holy.” I need to make sure that I’ve done all I can to prepare them for that eventuality, and to assure them of my love and support throughout the toughest parts. I also need to know that they have my back. Some of the biggest challenges in this regard will come from members of my extended family…and that will make it even more painful and costly.

Many in my denominational family are not ready. I am a part of a conservative protestant “holiness” denomination. That means that even discussing “straight” sexual things is embarrassing and threatening. So, it means that I must go slow, precise, and intentional with who I talk to, when I make the specific contacts, and how I frame my words.

I will be told that I’m “confused.” I’ve already heard this one. I know where this comes from…ignorance. I will be told that since I’m married to a female and we have children, that I’m not really gay but just confused about my sexual orientation…that I just need to admit that I’m straight or confused…but I certainly can’t be gay. Trust me, I know what I know…better than anyone else. Confused, I am not.

I will be told that I’m unchristian. I’ve already heard this one, too. I’ve been told that “gay” and “Christian” cannot be used together to describe me, or anyone else. This offensive statement comes from ignorance of what it means to “be gay.” Most of the people who respond that way are assuming that I’m jumping in bed with every hot guy I can. I have been very clear on this blog and in personal conversations with other people that “my gay” is an orientation only and does not mean any kind of “gay lifestyle,” whatever that means. To some, my perspective does not suffice…I just need to pray the gay away. It simply doesn’t work that way. But, I know who I am, and I know who He is living in me.

I will be excluded and misunderstood. I get that. For my families (biological and faith) this will be a threatening conversation. Some, in the interest of avoiding the difficulty, will simple walk away and assume that I have evil motivation in broaching the subject, that I’ve been become demon possessed, that I’ve let a mid-life crisis define my world, that I’m out to change the theological stance of my denomination, or that I’ve become so liberal so as to become useless to anyone and any church. Deaf ears and distance will be the order of the day. And, yes, I’ve already experienced some of this, as well. But, this conversation has to take place, so I will need to steel myself for this eventuality.

In some contexts and in some ways, this conversation will be like a battle. I will experience wounds, fatigue, occasions of defeat, and discouragement.

Am I ready for that?

-Trevor

The Conversation Begins

As a quick refresher, sometime back, after 20+ years in local church ministry, I lost my ministerial credential as the result of having an affair with another man. I spoke of this heartbreaking, vow-breaking, and nearly family-destroying affair in Worm Thinking. Throughout the time since then, I have been blessed with the awesome grace and forgiveness of my wife, my family, and my Heavenly Father. In the midst of all that, one fact has continued to be my companion…my divine call to ministry. I answered that call at the age of 13 and it is still with me to this day. In spite of my horrific transgression, God has not lifted His call off of my life. Early on in this current journey, I was reminded that I needed a place to call “home”…my ministry home…and lately, I’ve been feeling an even more acute sense of God’s call as I wonder if anyone would want me to minister to them. I am volunteering at my local church, but this “call” is for something different. It’s just there…the call is there…it won’t leave…He keeps calling me.

And that’s where the conversation is beginning.

Yesterday, I had coffee with my former denominational supervisor. He was very gracious in our conversation as he told me that, at this time, there is “no way” for me to be restored to a credentialed ministerial status. That wasn’t a shock, I expected that answer. But I wanted to hear more, to pick his brain, to see if he thought I had any value to the denomination as a minister. He affirmed my value and stated that he believes that the denomination’s stance is in need of change. He confirmed what I had heard – that others feel the same way and am told that conversations are happening in other places and venues. People are beginning to see that it is wholly unlike the grace of God to allow a minister who had a heterosexual affair to regain his credential and not allow a minister who had a homosexual affair to regain his. I was encouraged by our talk and I walked away with a heightened sense of hope.

I have told other people many times that the LGBTQ community is a gift to the Church (the Body of Christ). The church (organized denominations, etc.) needs to find its voice in expressing its love for those of “us” who are already a part of the Body…and listen to us and let us lead the way in ministry to our friends and family in the broader LGBTQ community.

Here’s to hoping the conversations continue.
Here’s to hoping that they come talk to me.
Here’s to hoping that the Church becomes more Christ-like in the process.
Here’s to hoping that I will find my place…my home…the fulfillment of my calling.

Maybe the second half of my ministry life can be even more redemptive than the first.

I have hope.

-Trevor