Ramblings of a sinner, Probably the worst, Hopefully getting better (Part 3)

This is the final installation in this series. Nathan shares how he prays through his struggles with the spiritual doing/undoing he has been through. He also shares an audio installation he created and some resources he found helpful.


What do I do on those days when I feel like I am going backwards? I first pray in silence offering no words to God but my submission. I read some of Mother Teresa’s writings. This particular excerpt I keep near me:

“Listening is the beginning of prayer, and what we listen to is the voice of God, God that cannot deceive or be deceived. Then if we keep silence, silence cannot be corrected; if we speak, if we answer back, we make mistakes. IN THE SILENCE OF THE HEART GOD SPEAKS; let God fill us, then only we speak. Often we say uncharitable words. They come from us, from our heart, not from God speaking through us, because we are not listening to God. If you want to know how much you love Jesus there is no need to ask anybody to tell you; you are old enough. In the sincerity of your heart you will know it yourself, if you practice silence…. Try to be alone. Try to keep that really deep silence to get rid of bitterness or hatred.”

-Mother Teresa

I go to God in silence on those days. I go to God and remember, “You are within me. You are the life force of the universe. In you, O, God I have my being. You are my breath. You are my heartbeat. You formed me in the womb.” Then silence. I believe that being present in the moment with God is heaven on earth.

Second, I remember stories of people throughout humanity that might have felt like they were going backwards rather than forward while fighting for justice. I remember reading about Ruby Bridges. Her story has stuck with me. She was a young six year old black girl in Louisiana. She was the first person to integrate William Frantz Elementary in New Orleans. She went an entire year as the ONLY person in that school. The other white children (aka their parents) refused to go to school with her. can’t imagine being little Ruby. I am sure on some days she went home and cried to her parents thinking this all had to be some huge mistake. She probably did not want to move forward with her position in making schools in New Orleans a place for everyone. She stayed though, or she was forced by her parents. My point is that she probably did not always feel like this was the right decision, because clearly not many other people supported her. I remember stories like hers when I do not feel like I am making a difference for others. People try to accuse me of only doing this for myself, but I really hope I am sitting in the place for others. I think of Christ staying on the cross for all of us, even though he felt so alone, so burdened, so hurt, and ultimately… completely rejected.

Lastly, I ask for mercy and remember that God is faithful. In the book of Hosea, you see God change his mind against his wrath towards his people. You see his anger turned into overwhelming love. His anger overshadowed by that love. I now see that as foreshadowing of what he did on the cross. He defeated his own wrath and the evil of the world by showing us true sacrificial love that overwhelmed the grave. This Love moves toward others rather than the self. This Love says you are all invited to my table. This Love tears down boundaries. This Love fulfilled the law. This Love is stronger than temple walls. This Love is so strong and unstoppable that nothing in all creation can separate you from it when you surrender to Jesus Christ. This Love is the gateway to life.


I wanted to include some links that have helped me on my journey! Maybe they will help you too!

[part 1] ● [part 2] ● [part 3]


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Jonathan Kent Adams is an artist from Yazoo, Mississippi. He studied painting under Mary Beth Mckenzie in New York, and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Mississippi. Other than that he enjoys being a barista at Highpoint Coffee, candles, heaters, red wine, music, and conversations about what make us beautiful. In his words, “I guess most importantly… I’m child of God and so are you.”

Ramblings of a sinner, Probably the worst, Hopefully getting better (Part 2)

This is part 2 of a 3-post series where my friend Nathan shares his journey toward self acceptance as a child of God and as a gay man.


I always love in scripture how God shows up in unexpected ways throughout the Bible. He showed up in a bush. He came to us born of woman who was not married. (Side-note: Have you ever thought about how difficult it would have been for people in Jesus’ time to process that GOD was born to a woman who was not married before she became pregnant?) In Ezekiel God reveals that he will no longer be found only in the temple. He deconstructs the temple and basically reveals that God will be found outside of the temple in the future. AKA King Jesus will be riding a donkey. But in all seriousness this is extremely beautiful that God would be found outside of what was once an exclusive place. Jews believed God would show up as a warrior, but instead he let his enemies kill him. In the old testament, widows and eunuchs were seen as cursed or inferior (could not procreate) but towards the end of Isaiah God reveals that those people will be first in the kingdom, and they should rejoice in the present. Why? Because the kingdom of God is an adoption process not a natural birth right and the Kingdom of God is at hand, here, now, and to come. Mary Magdalene was the first person to see Christ alive after his death. Why would God choose a woman when most people at the time only listened to the men for spiritual revelation and guidance? Yet, God revealed his defeat of death to someone unlikely. Someone unexpected. There are many more examples of God coming to us in the unexpected.

What if God is coming to us in the queer community? What if when God says there will be no male or female in heaven… that the queer community is the undoing of the security and ways we idolize gender? What if the queer community is a peak into heaven?

Since I now live openly as a gay person, I live in the tension of letting God undo all the psychological mess that I created by going to him for years believing I was cursed. Much of my relationship with him depended on my struggle to overcome my thoughts about guys. Now, I am learning all of the areas of my life that I need so much more grace. I gossip a lot with or about people sometimes. It’s extremely easy for me to become jealous of others in the art community. I become selfish sometimes in my relationship. I can be very selfish with my time and how I spend it. I do not do enough for people that cannot help themselves. I am not vocal enough about how incredibly wonderful and indescribable God is. Basically, I used to think being gay was the only reason I needed God. Now, I know I need God. Period. Some friends have told me that I am following the world, but they often do not think about how you really are choosing a road less traveled by remaining a christian and being openly gay.

So many queer people dismiss christianity because of the harm the church has caused.But to stay in that tension… Its hard and humbling. I have never felt like I have more purpose, even though sometimes I feel like I am losing.

As I have transitioned into undoing my old thoughts about how to be gay and christian, I sometimes feel as if I am on top of the world and other days I think I am going backwards. This is the main thing I thought was important to say. I have read a lot of stuff about all of this, but no one ever seems to admit the challenge of going through this. One day I was a bit discouraged, because I had been doubting myself, and my relationship with God. BUT there is an intersection in Oxford where MDOT is completely changing the way traffic flows in order to cause traffic to flow better and have less traffic jams in the area. Most locals I talk to hate the new transition, even though we know eventually this change will help the traffic flow in the future. The problem is that on some days the new construction and changes have made the traffic jams worse than they have ever been. Then some days you see the traffic flowing better than its ever been. (This is the kind of tension I often find myself in my walk with God.)

I was encouraged that day while driving, because I had to remind myself that we all hate change and sometimes it seems like we are going backwards but sometimes that’s a byproduct of our resistance to change.

And my change requires deep psychological rewiring; only a God who knows me can undo the old patterns of thinking. That situation is so similar to me with where the church may be going with the the LGBTQ community… and even though it may seem like we go backwards sometimes,

hopefully we are being made more in the image of God.

[part 1] ● [part 2] ● [part 3]


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Jonathan Kent Adams is an artist from Yazoo, Mississippi. He studied painting under Mary Beth Mckenzie in New York, and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Mississippi. Other than that he enjoys being a barista at Highpoint Coffee, candles, heaters, red wine, music, and conversations about what make us beautiful. In his words, “I guess most importantly… I’m child of God and so are you.”

Ramblings of a sinner, Probably the worst, Hopefully getting better (Part 1)

Over the next 3 days, my dear friend Nathan is going to share his story and his journey with us as a gay man and a Christian.


Geez… I don’t really know how to write this without giving you my life story. I don’t know how to write this without telling you I was always attracted to guys growing up. don’t know how to write this without telling you that I have had girlfriends thinking my thoughts would eventually fade… that I have read books… that I have talked to pastors… that I have had to sit and talk with many friends about my future as a gay person in the body of christ… that I have lived in two polar opposite places in America… that I have spent most of my life from around 7 to a few years ago thinking something was tragically wrong with the way I was made.

Age 12 to 21, you would find me in private asking God to change me, to make my attraction to men go away. It’s basically the same story you have probably heard if you are familiar with conversations around this topic. I spent 4 years after I came out believing it was wrong for me to be in a gay relationship if I wanted to keep walking with God. I not only believed this but spoke at bible studies about it. I wrote letters to large groups of my christian friends talking about my struggle with being obedient to Christ while being a gay person. During this time in my life, I found people like Wesley Hill. He wrote a wonderful book called “Washed and Waiting.” He is a celibate gay christian. He helped me for the first time see the gay part of me as a gift that God could use, but I could never enjoy the intimate companionship of marriage. He argued that people of LGBTQ community needed to have deep rooted friendships with in the church to meet their emotional needs. He talked about how this was an area the church struggled with in general with all single people. Jesus was single from what we know. Paul was single. The problem for me was that it was a sweeping curse of celibacy to all people that were in the LGBTQ community. Paul made celibacy seem more like a gift that he celebrated not necessarily something that was forced upon groups of people.

I always thought it was beautiful that I could actually marry Christ one day as a part of the church. He is my bridegroom, and I am the beloved. To me that is a queer thought. A strange thought. A beautiful thought. A life changing thought. I wondered why I could not live this as a reality here on earth. No one in the churches I attended or talked deeply about my life with, told me that other christians existed within the body that believed I could enjoy that companionship with another person. I would find this out on my own when I went to live in New York City to take painting classes. I attended a small church called St. Josephs. I noticed within the congregation a few gay couples. After leaving, I emailed my religion professor from the University, and asked her if gay christians could really exist? That experience and email started the journey of me seeing myself fully embraced by God. Fully welcome. Fully celebrated. Not just part or parts of me, but the whole. My professor encouraged me to read different books by different people rather than the ones only written by celibate gay christians. She introduced me to James Alison. I have spent many a night chewing on his words, weeping as I felt this spirit within me stirred, but confused as ever at the undoing of some things I held so deeply as truth about myself.

I would later read a book by Gene Robinson. He was one of the Bishops for the Episcopal church. He is openly gay. He married and is now unfortunately divorced. (This doesnt really help a case for gay marriage, but his honesty and story did help me process through some aspects of moving forward even if people close to you do not support you.) He was so brave at letting God be his strength and refuge as so many people left that church, sent him hate mail, threatened his life etc. I have read books by Mark Achtemeier and Matthew Vines. I remember watching Matthew Vines’ sermon on youtube before he ever had the book deal. Both of these men talk more about the six passages that theologians talk about when discussing the issue. I will attach some links if you are interested more with that. I was always reading articles on both sides trying to figure out what I thought intellectually on the issue. I was also biased, because I wanted a relationship. I wanted someone to share life with me. Then one day crying on my knees in prayer, “God is for you not against you” kept going through my head. God is for you not against you. So I moved forward in faith that God would keep me and that if I was going down the wrong path that he would lead me back. I found that both sides could justify what they believed God wanted for the LGBTQ community. Another professor showed me articles that were written by pastors during the civil rights movement. Some argued that slavery and segregation were what God wanted and others condemned interracial marriage. These articles opened my eyes to how you could not really argue with these people, because they were certain they were right. I found that the conservative side never really admitted that they could potentially be wrong on the LGBTQ issue. They were definitely wrong with their justification of slavery and segregation. I also found this among real life friends. They were always certain they had the right interpretation of scripture and perception of my life. I will be the first to tell you that I may be wrong. That we all may be wrong. I hope that is not the case though. I hope that I am bringing God glory with my life and not myself. I hope that what I see is a progression in scripture of God using unexpected ways and relationships in order to reveal himself to humanity.

[part 1] ● [part 2] ● [part 3]


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Jonathan Kent Adams is an artist from Yazoo, Mississippi. He studied painting under Mary Beth Mckenzie in New York, and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Mississippi. Other than that he enjoys being a barista at Highpoint Coffee, candles, heaters, red wine, music, and conversations about what make us beautiful. In his words, “I guess most importantly… I’m child of God and so are you.”

Genderless God

Lately, I’ve been practicing imagining God in different forms. The other day, He was a black woman with a huge afro like Mary J Blige’s character in the Black Nativity movie.

Because what are all these forms we imagine when we pray? If you’re like me, you use a visual when you pray and it’s usually a vague representation of stuff from movies. Sometimes, I imagine stereotypical Jesus sitting next to me. And since I’ve never seen Jesus, I’m essentially praying to an idol – an image crafted for me. It’s weird to me that some people will be offended by my new visualization practice but seriously what does God look like? I don’t know. He’s not a person. He’s a spirit. What does a spirit look like? I don’t know! What do I look like? I don’t know. I don’t interact with my spirit through my eyes. I’ve never seen my spirit.

A few months ago, I was reading an article about a Sikh woman and she said,

“this body – it is a gift that has been given to us by the Divine Being [which is genderless, actually]”

I about jumped out of my seat with excitement at that statement. Even though Christians (technically) believe that, Sikhs have it way more together on this genderless God thing than we do.

A few years ago, translators of the NIV bible decided to release a gender-neutral bible and some people were just not having it. I’m not even talking about retranslating God’s gender references. I’m talking about expanding “brethen” to “brothers and sisters” in an attempt to

So I wonder how difficult this post might be for some people. A moment of silence.

Pressing swiftly along! While preparing this post, I read a piece titled, “Our Genderless God.” The author made a fabulous series of points:

“Most of us would say, if asked, that we don’t believe God has a gender. Instead, God transcends gender.

But we tend to use masculine pronouns for God because the Bible does. Yes.

We imagine God as male because Jesus called God ‘Father’. Yes.

Because Jesus, the image of the invisible God, was a man. Yes.

Because dominant images of God are associated with strength and power, with active and protective roles and we’ve been taught that strong means male… Ah.

Because we understand God in part by how we understand ourselves and the theologians who have had the most influence through Christian history have been male… Ah.

Because God is the highest and the greatest and the very best of the best, and our experience tells us that a person at the top is probably male… Ah.

Do you see where we start to have a problem?”

We know God is a spirit and not a person. We know we are images of Him and He is not an image of us… but we’re so small and we don’t know how to reach up out of ourselves so we still picture a white man speaking English (except on rare occasions when Morgan Freeman plays God on “Bruce Almighty” or William P. Young depicts God as a black woman in “The Shack.”)

We box God up. We assign human qualities to God so that we will be able to think about Her in a relatable way but She is not human. The box, the form, the object… It’s not for God; it’s for us. The Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus in the form of a dove! It just seems like God was breaking all the rules.

God has to step in to expand our minds. He has to help us. And I believe She can help us unbox Her. Because I want GOD, not just my idea of God. So I knew, I had to shake up my preconceived notions of Him Her just to get started on the journey. I couldn’t just say He was more; I had to imagine God as more and ask Her to help me see truth, beyond my comfort and beyond my traditions.

God is the sourceless source of all, the eternity in which time subsists… God is not a dude. He doesn’t have a penis. She is not a woman. She doesn’t have a vagina. God is the intelligent, sentient, all pervasive force throughout the Universe. While many believed in a different god for the sun, the wind and the waves, we said, “Elohim is one,” that Elohim is the force behind all the forces physicists talk about. Elohim is the infinity that math teaches. Where all things have a beginning and an end, Elohim is the constant. Let us change our language to respect that. Let us not limit that truth we profess. I’ll admit that I don’t know the best way to unbox God but I am trying a few things. Honestly, I think God should have His own gender pronouns! She is in a class all by Herself, after all.

I look forward to the day when I close my eyes to pray and I see nothing. And beyond that, I look forward to the day when I open my eyes and I am shown everything.