Sunday, September 16, 2007

I'm liberated!

Boy have I been absent from blogging!
I'd like to say I have some unusually interesting changes to share but not so. Instead of watching more 'phillums', I've gotten sidetracked by Chinese study, screenwriting/production, and actually reading...books...on paper. *gasp!*

Until this evening, nothing's been of enough interest for me to bother writing about.
This weekend, my church hosted a regional conference for Exodus International. Exodus is basically a clearinghouse of information for churches (and synagogues for that matter) who minister to people leaving a homosexual lifestyle.

This conference was my second Exodus event and I'm glad I was there. There's something so amazing about being surrounded by people who are chasing after what God has for them. Praise and worship is always super intense because for a lot of folks who come to the conferences, it's not only a 'safe place' but the first time they've realized wholeness in Christ doesn't equate with stereotypical gender norms. I love what one of the leaders said, "The opposite of homosexuality isn't heterosexuality---it's holiness." Word.

I met a guy at the annual conference I went to who was a post-operative MtF transsexual who worked as a stripper for a few years to save up for his surgeries. I met him a few months after he'd had his breasts removed so he wouldn't be called "ma'am" quite so often. On first sight, I thought, "That guy's really gay" but after having shared a meal with him and being priviledged to hear the circumstances of his life and his transformation process, I'm thoroughly convinced he's one of God's great showpieces. After spending all of his young adulthood living as a woman, (and a fairly cute one--I saw photos!), he decided to call it quits. His transformation was a long arduous process, still yet to be completed, but his hunger for God's truth despite the trappings of his physical body is an inspiration to me time and time again.

I was thinking about all of this driving home this evening when the song Liberator by my friend Jason Eskridge came up on my mp3 player. I couldn't help but think how absolutely perfect a theme song it is for some of the folks I've met through Exodus and what a theme song it's been for my life.

[*If you like the song, you can download it from Jason's MySpace for free. Just drop him a message and let him know I sent you! :)]
your hand of freedom
reached into my situation
breaking my binding chains
and granting me liberation

‘cause I once was bound to myself
the worst of penalties
I couldn’t escape from my sin
until you rescued me

you are my liberator
your love set me free
you are my emancipator
with your blood you bought me
now I am free

and I’m not going back
to that place again
where my mind and body
are enslaved to sin

through your life and your death
and your life again
you’ve taken this dead man
made me breathe again

you are my liberator
your love set me free
you are my emancipator
with your blood you bought me

you are my liberator
your love set me free
you are my emancipator
with your blood you bought me
now I am free

I’m set free
I’m set free


ashvin said...

Ok, t-hype: I couldn't let this post sit without comment.

I'm not sure if you believe that you can't be gay and christian, or if that you are gay and you want to be christian you can't actually be in a gay relationship.
Anyway if you are interested in hearing some contrary evangelical christian views you can start with Mel White (a one-time speech-writer for [your friend?] Falwell) and SoulForce.

The sooner christians learn to accept homosexuality and stop forcing people to deny it to themselves and live double lives, the better this world will be.

Just my two cents.

t-hype said...

Thanks for commenting ashvin.

I became acquainted with SoulForce when I was still at Liberty. Jerry Falwell had Mel White and his group over for lunch when I was in undergrad and I was one of the few students who got to attend. Likewise, there are numerous arguments specifically against Exodus which you can google to your heart's content.

The truth is, inasmuch as identity is concerned, you can't be gay and be a Christian---not because there aren't Christians in homosexual relationships, (of course there are!)---but because the identity of the Christian is rooted in Christ. ANY Christian whose identity isn't rooted in Christ, is living based on a faulty foundation. If I exalt my ethnicity, my employment, my family, anything above Christ, I'm on the wrong path.

Homosexuality is not an exception. It's just sex outside of God's design (marriage) ---certainly nothing to build an identity on. So bottom line, 'gay Christians' ARE Christians, they're just holding on to a faulty identity.

The only reason what I'm saying sounds so weird is because the American church is mostly a country club instead of a place to pursue Christ! :)

ashvin said...

Hi t-hype. Thanks for the response. So it sounds like you are familiar with contrary views on the topic. That's good to know.

I'm going to leave it at that [as I have spent hours arguing with my evangelical relatives about similar issues and neither party has changed their opinion at the end ...:) ]


t-hype said...

Hey, thank YOU for being civil! A lot of people get really ugly about the issue.

I'm okay with people not agreeing as long as they don't try to squelch the voice of dissention just because they don't like what it says.

Do come again! ;)

Anonymous said...

You point out that "Homosexuality is not an exception. It's just sex outside of God's design (marriage)." One does not need to have sex to be a homosexual. Abstaining from sex does not make a person any less homosexual than a homosexual who does have sex. Abstaining from homosexual sex does not make one heterosexual, either.

Are you only heterosexual when you are having heterosexual sex? It is no more an identity that heterosexuality is your "identity."

Also, homosexuals are being married in Christian churches as we speak. It's the secular government that won't recognize this.

t-hype said...

It's all good anon. Keep the dialogue going.

Here's another way to state my perspective: EVERYONE is heterosexual. (There's no other way to sustain the human race!) Sexuality/attraction is fluid, not a staunch, immutable trait.

I'm not sure whether or not my perspective is unique but it's rooted in the belief that there is an ultimate, biological (created) order undergirding human existence.

Anonymous said...

I agree - it is all good. Just questioning.

Well if you personally believe everyone is heterosexual, I think that's fine. I happen to be gay (and a Christian) and I'm completely ok if you don't believe that.

I also believe in a natural order. I would add, for the record, it's not necessary to have everyone (100%) be heterosexual to sustain the human race.

I'll stop here, too. Thank you for the discussion.

Leena said...

There are many insulting assumptions/assertions in your post. The statement, "The opposite of homosexuality isn't heterosexuality - it's holiness" is a smack in the face to all the good, spiritual, holy, amazing gay people out there doing wonderful things for humanity. How would you feel if someone said, "The opposite of blackness isn't whiteness - it's goodness"? You can argue context and nuance all you want, but you have to be responsible for how certain statements come across. If, however, you do believe in that sentiment, then I'll stop reading this blog immediately.

Second, do you realize that it's rather insulting to look at people and think, "Wow, he's really gay!" Then you use the word "but" and say that only after getting to know him, you think he's one of God's wonderful masterpieces or whatever b/c he's "leaving" his old lifestyle behind.

So does this mean that you think people who are "really gay" (whatever that means) cannot be wonderful "masterpieces created by God"? I'm going to assume that you do, because that is what you wrote and people's initial statements are often what they really think - you can backtrack all you want, but it does fall in line with everything you are saying.

I mean, what does it even mean to be "really gay"? Think about it. Some of the most "straight-acting," laced-up, conservative-looking people are indeed "very" gay. Again, it's like saying, "Oh, Wanda Sykes is REALLY black because she's loud and edgy. But Condoleeza Rice really isn't that black, because she speaks well." Can you see how insulting that is?

Oh, and you should probably do a lot more research on "ex-gays" - it's pretty evident that you can't really change your sexuality. You can repress it and pretend to live a "holy" life to please people who go to the Exodus Ministry or whatever - but you can't really leave it.

You know, I'm not trying to be uncivil, but it's just so completely ironic that even after the Larry Craig mess people still believe in stuff like this. If we lived in a more liberated, open, honest society, maybe people like Craig could be themselves instead of living in fear of people like...well, you.

Take care.

t-hype said...

hey leena,
I think I've been pretty clear about the basis for my 'assumptions'. Whether or not they're insulting is a matter of opinion. Sorry about the quote. It's not mine. I took from it that he was saying, the goal of his life isn't to be heterosexual, it's to be holy. But whatevs.

lol on insulting people with the "He's really" "She's really" stuff. I don't use that phrase as marker of authenticity but rather as an indicator that a particular person is fufilling all the characteristics of a sterotype. That being the case, "Wanda Sykes IS really black!" So is Chris Tucker in Rush Hour 1, 2 and 3 but I digress...

My wording was: "one of God's great showpieces". What you're alluding to was my initial reaction, which I shared openly. [No need to kick me to the ground for it.] Everything after the 'but' is the lasting impression he left with me. So yeah, in the course of one conversation I went from, Dang, this guy is effiminate to Wow, he's amazing! because I let his outer attributes get in the way of seeing who he really is.

You're right though about people needing to be honest. Holiness isn't a jacket you put on in the morning to go to church, it comes about through the process of sanctification. Anybody who says otherwise ain't telling the whole story!

EVERY Christian needs sanctification but 90% of us don't go through the process so of course saying that gay-identified folks should pursue holiness sounds like a hollow jab. It's hypocritical to suggest that someone do something that you yourself won't do! But David, the guy who said that quote, is in the other 10%. Joseph, the MtF I mentioned, is in the 10%. My friend and former roommate Amy is in the 10%. I could go on and on but it's late and I'm rambling.

Bottom line, your offense is warranted if for no other reason than the fact that homosexual issues have long been a whipping boy for the church. Still, I'm holding the line about sexuality and attraction being fluid rather than immutable. Just because it's all you've ever known, doesn't mean it can't change.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure it's convenient for you to say "I'm holding the line about sexuality and attraction being fluid rather than immutable. Just because it's all you've ever known, doesn't mean it can't change."

I'm assuming that if you really put your mind to it, you could develop homosexual attractions yourself. But, of course, because you have deemed homosexual attraction unholy, why would you, right?

For every suppossed "success" organizations like Exodus claim, there are ten-fold of others who are rejected by their families and their church. Some of them end their lives because of this rejection and because they can't just "change" no matter how hard they pray. And don't tell me they're not trying hard enough.

It doesn't sound like you, Exodus, or most Christians care about these people unless they are willing to change into who you want them to be.

t-hype said...

I'm not sure if you're the same anon from before but you're right about people being rejected by families and churches. You're right about high rates of suicide. I've walked through that with an FtM friend of mine (who is still living as male). Historically, the church-at-large has been out of order on this issue but that's changing.

I don't believe either that you can just 'pray away' an attraction but I do know this from my own life, as you change, your attractions and desires change. For some people that's micro-change for others it's macro. So again, the emphasis here is on the process, not an ideal of 'completion'.

Leena said...

"Major organizations that reject reparative therapy include the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Counseling Association, the National Association of Social Workers, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Association of School Administrators, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Education Association."


Now that's real credibility. What Exodus is teaching is akin to witchcraft and foolishness. Sexuality is fluid, but to an EXTENT - not to the extent that you can become "free" from homosexuality. You can repress all you want, but all you're going to end up with are more Larry Craigs and deviant Catholic priests.

For shame.

t-hype said...

Hey, whether or not the APA rejects 'reparative therapy', I know people personally--people in my immediate circle, who lived as gay or transgendered and no longer do so. They do exist. :)

"Witchcraft"?! That's a bit much. No one's prescribing magic potions or promising 'instant results'! As for foolishness, that's a matter of opinion.

Hmmm. I'm curious as to your definition of "free" so I'll leave that alone.

Joe said...

Eek. The whole Exodus thing is great if you are right. But if not, the idea of people 'chasing after what God has for them' becomes more than a little tragic.

For me and a lot of people I know (including friends who went through ex-gay programs), real liberation came with acceptance that some things can't be changed.

I know your opinions are carefully considered but please keep thinking about how fluid and changeable sexuality really is. Christian groups making big claims have caused years of unnecessary struggle and self-hatred for many people.

Meanwhile, I'm glad to see mini-SRK is back in your latest post :)

Ren's Baby boy! said...

One point,
NO ONE (ON THEIR OWN OR OF THEIR OWN WILL)CAN CHANGE ONE IOTA. That's the reason for the high failure rate of most organizations that foucs on changing homosexuals sexual orientation. It is also the reason people who are enslaved to any sin cannot simply change. Why doesn't the drug addict just change. How come the pedifile can't change his natural inclination? We fail to begin with the understanding that our nature is at emity with God. Left to our own we would do any and everything. We must be truthful about man kind's "Total Depravity"! The only real and lasting change comes from the work of the Holy Spirit! Whatever the sin is whatever the issue is it is fruitless to try and change yourself. Why? Because we are broken and falible human beings if we could fix ourselves Jesus wouldn't have needed to die on the cross. The fact that Jesus had to die is confirmation of our need for him to change us. ALL OF US, from the inside out.