Monday, August 8, 2011

Excerpt from Is Love Wrong? Chapter 38: Invalid Prayer

I sat down across from Don at the DTS coffee shop, Café Koine. Don wore a yellow dress shirt with a blue and yellow sweater vest. His yellow pants and white dress shoes were unique as well. He also had on his yellow ivy-league cap resting on his head. He could have been a Steven Brothers’ model—or dressed as Payne Stewart for Halloween. I smiled as I knew Don used the way he dressed to throw people for a loop. It added to his charm.
“Have you heard from Zoe?”
“Yeah, but I am trying not to talk to her. It is just tough when she calls a thousand times a day.”
“I’ll refrain from saying anything negative. You never know the future.”
“I still love her, but it just won’t work. It just isn’t smart.” I was grateful to talk to Don and just air out my inner thoughts and I thought it incredibly healthy to not feel judged or that the answer was so abundantly clear I shouldn’t have feelings for a girl who just ripped my heart out. There was this sense of trust with Don that I didn’t have to worry about him going and telling everyone and that I didn’t have to wear the scarlet letter of idiocy. I’m not sure why I felt that way with other Christians, but I just did, it was like Don was a safe place.
Don’s face moved from warm to pensive as he moved closer to the table. “I need to talk to you about something.”
“What’s up, Don?”
“Chris, last night at church I saw a guy who looked familiar. I thought it was someone from church who had been cruising me, I often attract trolls—anyway—I received an email from a guy I had whipped and beat right before I became Christian. This guy had wanted me to go back and do him again, with more intensity, I’m not going into graphic details—it’s boring to me.”
“Thanks I appreciate that,” I said.
“Back to the story slash dilemma. The guy at study last night wasn’t the guy from church who had been cruising me.”
“Okay, who was it?”
“It was the guy I had met online in a Sn’M chat room, before my conversion, who I beat and he has been practically begging me to beat him again. I’ve really never seen much of his face, and never in a brightly lit room. He was at church last night! ****, what do I do now?”
“Well, he is at church, that’s a good thing. This could be a God thing that he is coming to you now. Tell him about your experiences and how Christ has changed your life—and you don’t do that anymore.”
“He’s just a trick, Chris. I have no desire whatsoever to socialize with him.”
“Isn’t that the attitude you accuse Christians of having? Why not share your faith with him?”
“I’ll pray about it,” Don said.
“Don’t wimp out,” I said and smiled.
“I’m not wimping out.”
We paused for a moment taking in the morning. Don stared at his half eaten pancakes. I drank my café white mocha and thanked God that I have such a weird life.
“I got an email from Matt Chandler. He wants to have lunch with me.”
“Well, he is the best preacher in America right now.”
“Better than Andy Stanley? How come you never made me watch Matt Chandler sermons like you’ve made me watch Andy Stanley? You know I wrote Andy and told him you needed to go to Andy Stanley Anonymous.”
“I do know that. You’ve reminded me a 100 times. Matt does the best job of getting a crowd to feel like he is on their team by using the straw man argument exceptionally well.”
“What do you mean?” Don asked.
“Well, he slams legalistic churches that he was very familiar with when he first got saved. And so he rails on them with humor. The weird thing is that it seems that the demographic that rolls into his church each week has never been to one that would remember thermometers out in the narthex for the building campaign.”
“Then he does an exceptional job of using that momentum to speak very directly to his congregation on issues that his congregation is wrestling with—I want to learn that method—it is super effective—which is why he has a huge following.”
“But what does he want with me?”
“I think you represent the very people that his straw man arguments hammer. He wants those overly legalistic churches to see his church reach out to the community that we politically ostracize as evangelical republicans. Or he might just want to meet you—you are pretty weird.”
“**** you.”
I smiled.
“I had a conversation with Steven yesterday,” Don said.
“What happened this time?” I said narrowing my eyes.
“Steven is tormenting me, not me tormenting him this time. The last time we met at group we had our usual prayer requests, and Chris, I have earnestly prayed for all the requests that you and the other guys mentioned, I have prayed the single guys would find the wife or girlfriend they want. I have even prayed those requests when I’m at home. I left that last Monday thinking if I weren’t in my relationship would my prayer request for a man to come into my life that I could love, would that request be as valid as the exact request that you straight single guys make? The same request I pray for them, would my request be as supported?”
“What did he say?” I asked.
“He said that it wouldn’t be supported. What about you, do you support that?”
“No Don, I don’t,” I said.
“What the ****? It seems you desire me to be a second class Christian. Only straight guys can be first class. I personally don’t see anything in heterosexuality that I would ever need. It’s cool for the ones who were born straight, without you guys the human race couldn’t breed, but that’s not me.”
“Don, you are not second class…” I started.
“I may be totally off here but it seems you think I need to be straight. God didn’t, he made me this way and he chose me, I didn’t choose God, I just didn’t fight. I’m offended that you think straight means first class. If I have to be a second class Christian I will be, but I’m doing everything suggested and more. The same things you guys do. I don’t have the answers. But I won’t ever go back to feeling like human debris or a piece of ****.”
“Nobody wants that,” I interjected.
“Coming out of the closet was hell for me, Chris. For years I allowed horrid things to happen to my mind and body. I felt worthless. I can’t go back to that. I won’t go back to that and I will never believe God would want anyone to feel like ****.”
“He doesn’t Don and you know that. If there is anything that has come from our Bible Studies it’s that God loves you and gave His Son to die for you and He rose from the dead so we could have a perfect relationship with God,” I said.
Don looked down at the table, defeated. “I’m just exhausted with my sexual orientation occupying my time and the time of anyone else. I’ve told you specifics about what happened to me, and I don’t feel like I should have to defend myself against my new Christian brothers. Ya’ll treat me just like Christians did before I was converted.”
 “Don, when the subject comes up of ‘is homosexuality sin?’ we can’t just lie and say, ‘That’s great, I’m so glad that you are living that way, when I wholeheartedly believe that is not what God wants.”
“You showed me in 1 Corinthians 6 where Paul wrote about whom Christians should not associate. He lists off things like killing, getting drunk, lying, stealing and in the midst of all these evil verbs is homosexual offenders which is a plural noun. Paul is a bigot—or was raped in prison. That is the only possible way that he came to these conclusions.
“I pulled out my computer and opened up my BibleWorks Program to 1st Corinthians 6:9-10. Look man, all those words adulterers, drunkards, swindlers are nouns in Greek or English—Not verbs.”
“No, a person can stop drinking. A person can cheat once on his wife and then not do it anymore. I can steal, but then give it back.”
“Don, not quite, what is an adulterer? Is it someone who commits adultery, or someone who just wants to?”
“Someone who has sex with someone who is not their spouse.”
“Jesus puts it differently. He says that if you lust after a woman in your heart then you have committed adultery with her.”
“It says nothing of looking lustfully at a man,” Don shot back.
“Don, c’mon.”
“What? It doesn’t. You’re the one who takes the Bible literally,” Don said.
“Yeah, what the Bible literally means, not what it literally says. I don’t believe that when Jesus says in the same portion of scripture in Matthew 5 that when Jesus says to gouge out your eye or chop off your hand if you lust after a woman that he means that. If you followed the scripture by what it literally says, it wouldn’t solve anything, you would still be lusting but have one less eye. And you may want to masturbate, but you’d have to do it left handed.”
“You’re sick.”
“Me, at least I don’t have trolls cruising me wanting me to beat them.”
“Good point.”
Don and I laughed and I stole a look around the coffee shop. This was the part about hanging out with Don that I enjoyed. We laughed a lot. We could be serious and discuss heated issues and then one of us would crack a joke and we would smile and be old friends.
“Don you must have learned in AA that merely putting restrictions on someone does not take away the desire to drink—you have to train yourself not to drink and you put people around you who support you through that.”
“Yeah, okay.”
“Well, it’s the same with sin.”
“It’s different. I’m not telling you that what you are is wrong. I’m not telling your very being is wrong.”
“But that’s what I am saying. Original sin has marred all of us and we are in bondage to it until Christ frees us from it.”
“That’s bull****. I still have problems with that whole Adam and Eve original sin ****. That has to be a metaphor.”
“That’s the literal part, Don.”
“Dammit, how does anyone believe this? It doesn’t make any sense. Santa Clause, the Tooth Fairy, and Mary Poppins are more believable than this.”
“Then what happened that night when you asked my God to be your God.”
“I don’t know. Maybe I was delusional. I have been in a weird emotional state ever since coming in contact with you and all your people.”
“Back to your invalid prayer. We have been over Romans 1 a thousand times. That was Guy’s favorite verse. The Bible is pretty clear that part is sin.”
“Clear to you. You have been trained to read it that way.”
“Don, let me read it to you, and let’s say we had only these words to go off. ‘Romans 1:26-27 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.’ Now what does that mean to you?”
“That Paul was raped in prison.”
I laughed. “You don’t give up do you?”
“There is only one reason that someone would write something like that. He must have had a vendetta against the Gay community.”
“Don, you are so reading into the text. That is called eisegesis.”
“Who is to say that I’m wrong.”
“Good point Don. I could line up a 100 evangelical scholars and you could line up 100 liberal scholars and they would say complete opposite things about Paul’s life. However, when I read this text, I get that homosexuality is a sin, and therefore when you ask me if I can pray for you to meet the right man to “be with” I won’t, just like I won’t pray for you to start using drugs—because that is sin.”
“You are crazy.”
“Thanks Don, I gotta get to class.”
“You always leave right when I’m about to make my best point.”
“Bye Don.”

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