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.
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.”