This striking lack of hope that runs through the veins of LGBT people that A mentioned is one that I am well aware of. I think this hopelessness runs through all of our veins as we are constantly reminded how we are ‘different’… as we see more shows and hear more conversations of the perfect (male/female) relationship, as we get kicked out of the military, as we have hate crimes perpetuated against us, hate crimes that can not be legally persecuted (this is in the process of changing, but not there yet)… this hopelessness cannot help but to pump through our veins. There are, indeed, glimpses of hope… the passing of the Matthew Shepard Bill, the increasing fervor of disdain against Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, more of culture recognizing that there are people out there who just do not like or want to be with members of the opposite sex.

I think that those of us who are in explicitly Christian environments (especially conservative Christian environments) have larger quantities of this hopelessness pumping through our beings. Not only must we deal with the repression of our realities from culture, but we must also face a more overt reaction to the realities of our lives… restriction of sexual expression that our straight colleagues do not have to abide by, renunciation of our “lifestyles”, the never-ending comments about Romans 1 and 1 Corinthians 6 (as if these verses are news to me), the insistence on gender roles that often us as LGBT people do not fit into and certainly do not apply to our relationships.

Being gay and Christian is fucking hard.

Yet, at the same time, in counter to this increased hopelessness, I think that we actually have more hope. Let me explain, so this doesn’t just sound like crazy talk.

In my church text group, we are discussing Body Politics by John Howard Yoder. In his chapter, “Baptism as the New Humanity” he explains that, when we are enjoined into the Christian community (this is what he describes as occurring in baptism, but I do not think—nor do I think he thinks—that it has to be limited to this specific practice), we don a new social vision… baptism, belonging in the body of Christ, is our new social identity—one that supercedes race, class, gender, & sexual orientation. And, though this is not the reality we face in this culture or in most of our churches, this is the reality that we should be living.

Being in a baptized community (translation: being part of the body of Christ) means living in a radical new social reality, one where there is no discrimination. Though sometimes this reality cannot be sensed or felt… but we live as though if it can and it will. When Christ died, the hope of the Messiah was lost. Where was the Christ figure that would save the Jews from oppression? Where was this messiah that would free the Jews from the Roman rule? It certainly was not Jesus, he was dead.

But it did not stay that way. As Christians, we say and believe “Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again.” Christ has risen. And we, as baptized people, also die and at the same time hold on to the reminder of the risen Christ. Heck, the Bible says this a lot better than I do:

“The love of Christ leaves us no choice…
we are convinced that one has died for all,
therefore all have died;
and he died for all, so that those who might live no longer live for themselves…
with us therefore worldly standards have ceased to count in our estimate of anyone;
even if once they counted in our understanding of Christ,
they do so now no longer”
-2 Corinthians 5:14-16

And though the realities we face tell us differently, the reality we gay Christians experience, though very very real, is not the ultimate reality. So, we wear our rose colored glasses, the rose coloring being the death and resurrection of Christ. And sometimes, we see glimpses of the resurrection; we get the small opportunity to taste the reality that is our eternal reality. And how wonderful and sweet a taste it is.

Last night, I was able to glimpse that reality. I came out to my church small group. I have been out to a variety of people at church. But I had been hesitant about telling my small group… this group is a more, um… theologically diverse… group of people than those I had come out to prior. About half of the small group is from another church, the conservative church that planted our more liberal, ‘emerging’ church. Anyone who knows of my experiences with conservative evangelical churches would understand my hesitancy. But, for a number of reasons, I decided to ‘risk it’ yesterday.

And in doing so, I was able to catch a glimpse of the social reality of the resurrection, a glimpse of what the church should always be. My small group responded much better than I would have ever expected. They listened…sincerely listened, I think. They asked questions and did not limit those questions solely to sexuality. They let me let off steam and ramble for quite awhile.  I sensed questions and possible concerns, but all came from a point of honest ignorance. They did not judge, at least not outwardly. It was such a refreshing experience, and definitely reminded me of A’s mention of finding support in the most unlikely of places. Things do not happen the way we expect them to. The Jews certainly were not expecting a messiah who looked like Jesus. They were not expecting a messiah that said, “Give to Caesar what is Caesars”, a messiah that would die a shameful death on a cross. But it was through what they did not expect that life occurred. And it is that reality that guides our lives. We don our rose colored glasses and live redemptively in a world that tells us otherwise.

Mind you, this hope does not always manifest itself in our environments… as I expressed above, our Christian environments often make us more hopeless, and I have already experienced plenty of hopelessness since I moved out here to Durham. But it is the reality of Christ, and his work on the cross and resurrection from the dead, that we can have hope… hope that a resurrection will happen even though all we can feel is the death, remembering that there is redemption that comes through the pain. Even though we can not see it sometimes (often) the rose tint of the glasses that we wear remind us that this is the ultimate reality of our lives. And sometimes, as I experienced last night, we are even able to see those experiences lived out right in front of our own eyes.

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