Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Chapter 42: Nate

Don walked out to the front patio of his store and looked over Fairmont Street. The grass was green and a gentle breeze blew and made Don smiled. Don waved at a jogger going by. He reflected on the insanity of going to City Church the night before and decided to text Nate Graybill. Over the past couple months, Nate had become a good friend and a man who cared enough to visit his shop, invite him to church, and take him to lunch. Nate was insanely obtuse, and Don had let him know it with many a middle finger—but he liked and respected Nate.

Don pulled out his phone and texted Nate. Texting, Don had thought was only for young guys, but Brit had convinced him that he could do it too, and so now every spare moment left him texting instead of emailing. Emailing was so cumbersome—texting was fantastic.

He shot off his text to Nate. “I went to a men’s bible study last night and was verbally attacked by one of the church guys. He screamed and jumped up and down saying my beliefs were invalid because I didn’t at this point believe the entire Bible. He said I was going to Hell. It was crazy. If I told him I was gay he would of had a coronary. Now, obviously I no longer see Christians as a group. He was insane and pissed off at my Harley Davidson T-shirt.  He even took off his shirt and tried to cover me up. I was laughing so hard and no one tried to stop his tirade. I would never let any guest or customer of mine be attacked. I don’t understand. I didn’t need protecting. I could handle him, but how do you handle apathy?”

“Sorry that happened, Don,” Nate texted back. “Remember, there are still many of us out there that are immature in our understanding of ourselves and God. Wasn't at Watermark was it?”

Don sat back on his stool, placed his phone on the counter and texted back. “There was a Watermark guy there, but it was at a place called City Church on Carroll Ave. I think the pastor is Dennis Weir. I no longer lump all Christians into a group. I’m one too. If that had happened at Watermark, you would probably be in a staff meeting right now, hopefully.”

 “There certainly would be some conversations. Unfortunately, it is situations like that that make the press—the public rarely sees the rest of us.” Nate texted back after a two minute delay.

Don smiled in agreement. Christians could be such idiots. He texted Nate, “I understand, that same press sees the drag queens and other oddities. I’ve prayed for that guy and going forward I’m not judging his beliefs, but I’m definitely judging his etiquette.”

“Yes and great to pray for him,” Nate texted. “Should do both if he claims the name of Christ.”

Don stared at his cell phone puzzled. Nate was always cryptic. “I don’t understand,” he texted.

Five minutes passed as Don impatiently stared at his phone and tried to busy himself with miscellaneous shop work. Finally Nate hit him back, “You should judge both for those claiming Christ. Jesus was hardest on hypocrites of the temple. See also Paul/Peter in Galatians, 1 Cor 6, Jude, etc. Off top of head while driving.”

“I’m in no position to judge anyone’s beliefs. What are you doing texting while driving? Some role model you are,” Don texted back.

“Actually as a believer and student of God you are in that position, since you have access to His Word and seek to understand/become Christlike—see Bereans. :)” came the reply.

Don paced. He didn’t know why people like Nate got under his skin. He didn’t know why he liked them so much. He just did. “I’m a pathetic believer. And may I say **** you and shoot you the finger. But I have never been a total disrespectful ass,” Don texted.

“Thanks, I needed that today :) pretty pathetic myself,” Nate texted.

There it was—that humility thing that these Cocky Christians continually pulled off that forced Don to like people like Nate and Chris and everyone else. He knew that God was doing something, but he couldn’t quite make out exactly what. Don wrote Nate back, “You are a miracle. God is using you and me. If that’s not humbling, then we are arrogant asses.”

“Look @ you, preaching to the pastor! Very humbling, because I am an arrogant ass. But like Peter said, "Where else could I go, Lord? You have the words of life!” Nate texted.

“Yep, preaching to a preacher. Well someone has to. It may as well be the guy who’s been cursing you.” Don smiled at his wit.

“Very good MSG coming Sunday-Wagner is off again.” Nate said.

Thank God, Don thought. Todd had a tendency to ramble on for an hour quoting every bible passage he knew, but saying absolutely nothing. Although, Don had nothing against the man, he couldn’t handle an hour of Todd. Nate, however, through the amount of time that he had put into Don had earned the right to have Don make a special trip to hear him speak. “If Mark isn’t preaching at PCPC I will see about it. Are you preaching?” Don texted.

“Gary Haugen with International Justice Mission coming. Great champion of social justice,” came the reply.

“Social justice? At Watermark? Interesting...”

“Thought that would peak interest with you.”

“Well, yes, anything about justice interests me. However I don’t know Todd and where he stands on my equality as equal to him as an American citizen.” Don texted and waited fully engrossed in his texting that he completely ignored several customers who entered and were now perusing his shop.

“I am sure he would sit about where I sit,” Nate replied.

“Above me?” Don asked.

“Ha!” Nate shot back.

A gear switched for Don and he didn’t want to go there as he was enjoying the text match with Nate, but he felt it his duty to remind Nate of civil liberty and its importance. “That’s funny but I have a feeling when it gets down to the voting booth my equality would take a back seat to most of the Christians I’ve met. That makes me very sad,” Don texted.

“I think many would vote for many of the inequalities that you see, but not through the mechanism of marriage,” Nate replied.

Don felt his heart race. His palms got a little sweaty and he could feel his emotions unseating. “It’s marriage that gives most of the rights,” Don texted. “Marriage is considered a stabilizing factor of society. I’m worth something.”

“You are worth the life of our Lord and marriage is the stabilizing factor of society. That is why there is such a biblical precedent and why it is vigorously defended.” Nate texted back. Don stood up and paced. He smiled for a moment at a customer and then walked outside to collect himself.

Don pecked out a message. “Great defend your personal spiritual beliefs over that of civil society and over those of different faiths. I can’t describe the depth of pain you’re giving me. And we have the same God. I would never wish for you anything less than what I have. Unfortunately to you—I am less. I expect more from you, Nate.” Don knew that last bit would cut, but he didn’t care.

“You are not less than—although I know it can feel like I think that. I cannot in good faith support something I believe God does not support as revealed through His word. I would hope you would expect nothing less of me as His servant. If I am wrong about what He says, then I want to be corrected. But I have not yet seen a sound doctrine that scripturally supports gay marriage. You know I believe the Bible is the inspired word of God, and must default to it,” Nate texted.

“Didn’t God say, ‘give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s? This is a civil issue—An equality issue that my friends who are my family—which I lost so many to a horrid disease that was condoned by most straight Christians. I believe in family values. I won’t sell out my friends even you,” Don tapped.

“Great pain and loss with you Don and I know Christians have had a significant role in that. In my mind this is a spiritual issue before a civil issue. Christ is not separating civil from spiritual in that passage. He is not willing to be used as a pawn by the Pharisees for their own agenda and also established submission to the governing authorities even when it seems unjust. I will not vote for something that God says is spiritually harmful to people—especially friends like you,” Nate replied. Don read his words and he could feel himself losing it. Thankfully his customers had left, although they purchased nothing. Anger grabbed Don and for a moment he let the tears trickle.

“You do understand you are using a spiritual belief system to justify discrimination against someone you have actually called your brother. The guy who screamed and hollered at me last night was rude. But at least he never claimed to love me as a fellow Christian. I don’t wear all emotions on my sleeve. But I’m sitting out on this patio eating a sandwich on a gorgeous day. Sobbing into this wadded up paper towel. Christian values? I am a ******* Christian, too. And I have feelings and now they are crushed.”
Don hit send and wondered if any of these people that said they loved him would get off their high horse and see him as he was—a person with rights.

Ten minutes later, Nate’s reply came. “I understand that I am called to speak the truth in love to my brother. There are many others that grew up feeling what you feel that ascribe to scripture as I do. You've met some. I wish that you would really sit down and investigate what they are saying. I don't want to crush you, Don. I want God's best for you, just like you do. I just believe that following what He says is the path to life. That is the best way to become Christlike. I am not trying to hurt you, just help. Just like you are helping me be more sensitive (I guess we both need to continue to get better at it).”

Don gripped his cell phone. Twenty years ago he would have thrown it against the wall. But he was beyond that now. He wiped his tears with the already moist paper towel and went back inside. He tapped a message back to Nate, “I have no desire to be straight. Look at straight. What in the world can straight offer? Only pain and rejection. I can’t believe that Christians aren’t standing up for each other. I knew from my past that integrity wasn’t common with Christians but I have expected better from you. Especially you—If this is truly your value system. Then I’m sorry for you and I’m devastated for me.”

“Why are you attacking me for holding to scripture and believing that God's way is best? I am not going to support anything that God says is harmful—especially for those I care about. That is putting their best interests above my own. It would be much easier to for me just to go with the flow and ignore scripture. Need to stop now. I am home with family and it seems we are not making progress. Let's revisit later.” Nate replied.

“You know I’m not attacking you. You know that, but I don’t know that you’re not attacking me in the name of our common God. That seems pathetic. What happened to love one another and building each other up? Is that just for white straight guys? ****! Last night and now this??????” Don put down his cell phone and paced.

“You know I care about you, Don. Look back over the text chain and try to understand what I am saying and give me the benefit of the doubt based upon the amount of time I've spent with you. I want what is best for you—we just disagree as to what that is. I really can't communicate any more on this today. I will try to touch base tomorrow.”

Don knew not to text back. He was emotionally exhausted and had no desire to see or talk to anyone for a while.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Chapter 41: Gay Theology

Chapter 41: Gay Theology

“Hey Chris, you want to come to a gay bible study with me over by White Rock Lake? I want to make sure that they are not way off base.”

“Okay, I’ll do it. What time?”


I arrived at 6:45pm and found Don in the parking lot.

“Hey Chris, I’m so glad you made it.”

“Brit is going to be here, too.”


“Hey have you given any more thought to the resurrection?”

“Why is the resurrection so important? My belief came from acknowledgement of the sacrifice and that action is the reason for my sharing my faith. I can probably lie and say sure, what the ****, I believe it all. But I’m not going to lie about my Christianity or anything else. I guess it’s like everything else, just stupid ignorant faith in faith.

“Well pretty much if there is no resurrection, our faith is retarded.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well if the dead aren’t raised, what good is it to be forgiven?”

“Clean conscious.”

I pulled out my bible.

“Where’s your family bible? The one you first met me with and you brought a wheel barrow into Starbucks to carry it.”

“You’re ridiculous. Listen.” I opened my bible to 1 Corinthians 15 and read verses12-17, “Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.” I closed the Bible. “Pretty black and white, Don.”

“I think it’s just something I can’t lie about. I trust my conversion and what I think is that things like that will make sense even though now it seems like so much bull****. It will eventually, possibly click, either here in this realm or in the next. I’m open to ALL of it—even though my mind and my personal history has told me different.

“Fair enough.”

“The Watermark guy called me back today—had a long chat, I didn’t curse much. He even knows Matt Chandler and also is a DTS grad, man you guys are all over the place, except in the day to day lives of anyone I care about.”

“Had you cursed him out before?”

“Yeah, remember when I talked about how Todd talked for forever and didn’t respect people’s lives. He wasted a good 30 minutes of my life when I could have been in my shop.”

“Well, Todd’s motto is he doesn’t want to give sermonettes to Christianettes—or something like that.

“Who was it?”

“Nate Graybill, do you know him?”

“No, what is his job?”

“I think he is over the whole Christian version of AA thing, Celebrate Something.”

“Celebrate Recovery?”

“That’s it. I think I might need to remind him that he is number one, when I see him—much like I need to remind you,” Don said extending his middle finger.

“You’re ridiculous,” I said.

“Hey, do you honestly never doubt the whole resurrection? Your mind is based with ability to reason, so how do you turn off all reason?” Don asked.

“Well you don’t doubt your conversion, I don’t doubt mine, but my conversion is based on the resurrection, and there are also verses like Romans 10:9 that says if you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead you will be saved.”

“We can talk more on that later, I guess.”


We went inside the old community church and I immediately felt weird. The church had that creepy old people, old church smell—only with drag queens. I smiled and shook hands with manly women as we found the room that the Bible study would be held.

The pastor, Jim, was in his 50s and had a beard. He looked like any older southern pastor would look. There were several chubby fat guys, a couple of women, one guy that could have passed for a straight metro-sexual guy, but given the environment was clearly gay. There were a couple of people I had to stare at for a while to figure out gender and then eventually had to give up because, well, it didn’t really matter.

Pastor Jim opened the time up with prayer and asked God to heal his partner and guide the discussion.

“Thank you all for coming. Many have been asking me for a study on how we can be gay and still okay. So, I wanted to walk with you through several clobber passages that conservative Christians use to bash us and then show you how their wrong reading has lead them to believe this way. Now, of course, there probably is some bigotry there, but I believe that when truth is taught, those who really love God will see reality as we see it.”

We then went around the room and introduced ourselves. I didn’t say much. I felt it was more of my place to listen. I was a guest and had to remember that they weren’t here for my opinions, but to hear Jim teach about homosexuality. I figured I could get over myself for an hour and learn as much as I could. Who knows, maybe I could learn something. And if this guy could prove homosexuality was God ordained, I would be all for it.

“Open your Bibles to the most widely misused clobber passage. Genesis 19: The Story of Sodom,” he said.

I opened up my bible and waited for the other men in the room to find their way to Genesis 19. Don had become very quick at passage look up and I could tell he was proud of himself and his new Bible skills.

Pastor Jim broke down the story for us from Genesis 19. We first read the story about Lot and the angels and then Lot looking to trade his daughters to protect the angels. A couple jokes were made that Lot sounded like their father. Pastor Jim taught us that this passage was not about God’s hatred of homosexuality, but rather the focus is more on the practical issue of hospitality and how the Sodomites were guilty of being quite inhospitable.

Pastor Jim pointed out that homosexual rape was often a way conquerors degraded and devalued their enemies. He concluded that comparing this case of rape to a committed loving relationship between two men or two women is nonsensical. He further pointed out that no one condemned heterosexuality based on Amnon’s rape of Tamar in 2 Samuel 13:1-33.

The city of Sodom was not destroyed because of homosexuality, but because God finds abuse of any kind repugnant and that the city needed punishment. Pastor Jim found some other Old Testament passages to support his argument. Ezekiel 16:49-50 specifically gives the reason that Sodom was destroyed.

Ezekiel 16:49-50 says, “Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.”

I’ll be honest, I always thought this was a black and white homosexual issue case. But maybe I was wrong. I looked through my concordance for other references to homosexuality and came to Jude 7.

I wondered why Pastor Jim didn’t bring up that passage, but I kept my mouth shut.

After the study, Don and I went over to Sonic across the street and got some cherry lime-aids.

“Well, what did you think?” Don asked.

“I liked it. Definitely different. Those people really wanted to learn and it was like they were like every other Christian in the world. They prayed the same. They talked about God’s love the same. They were very kind. It could have been any church in Dallas, except you had a couple dudes dressed like women and people there that support Barrack Obama.”

Don laughed. “What did you think of their opinions.”

“Actually changed my view on Sodom. Before I wasn’t convinced that the primary issue was hospitality, now I am.”

“Wow, Chris Plekenpol, wrong? Is that possible?”

“Shut up,” I laughed. “But Pastor Jim didn’t bring up Jude 7 where it talks about the sexual immorality and how the men of that town went after strange flesh.”

“What do you mean?” Don asked.

“Look it up—read it to me,” I said and Don opened his Bible.

In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire—So what’s wrong with that?”

“Sexual immorality and perversion.”

“Well, I think like Pastor Jim said that was about rape and inhospitality.”

“He is talking about a license to sin. No one has ever in history been like, um rape isn’t too bad. I think raping is good.”

“Maybe Jude meant the angels.”

“Bro, if you knew there were angels who were hot, would you try and rape them.”

“Good point.”

“Also I think a better word for word translation is the New American Standard. It says, ‘just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.’”

“So, I think that Genesis 19 gives us a good example of what not to do in entertaining strangers, but I also feel it supports the conservative view on gay sex.”

“Well ****, I thought this would be more helpful. I thought you might change your view.”

“Maybe, I do think this class will teach us a lot though. I’ll keep coming back.”

Friday, September 2, 2011

Excerpt from Is Love Wrong?: Chapter 40: Bobby


“Hey are you guys hungry?” Don asked the group after SPF7.

“I’m always down for food,” I said.

“I’m in,” Ken said.

“Great Ken, we never get to spend time with you as a group,” Don said excited.

“I’m in,” Bill said.

“Café Brazil?” I chimed in.

“Why don’t we go to the Gay Café Brazil? We always go to the straight one,” Don said.

“I’m game,” I said. “This could be outreach night.”

“Hey men, if we go there, we aren’t going to lead everyone to Jesus, let’s just make friends,” Bill said.

I was surprised that when we entered café Brazil with all 12 of SPF7 in tow. We sat down, ordered, and then started laughing and being loud. Steven and Don got into a heated debate. Ken noticed a guy reading an economics book and went over to talk to him. I just enjoyed the evening listening and watching and taking in the fact that Don had in a sense brought in the Trojan Horse. Just our presence was daunting. Rough men who loved Jesus.

Don and Steven sat across from each other and the debate began. Don had been emailing gay theologians from around the country including Ralph Blair from Evangelicals Concerned and combined that with our weekly gay bible study knowledge to go against Steven. Bill and Scott Michael talked about Scott Michael’s relationship with Sandy.

Somehow Bill noticed Ken talking to the student and called them over to join us. I soon found out this kid’s name was Bobby and he was taking economics classes which is what Ken had majored in and was now working in sales with HP.

Bobby didn’t know what to make of us. “So you guys are a church group?” Bobby asked. “Are you a Liberal church?”

“No, we’re not. I’m about as conservative as it gets in my beliefs, but probably live it out differently than you are used to,” I said.

“So do you believe being gay is wrong?” Bobby asked.

“What do you think, Bobby?” I asked.

“Well, I think that it is a sin and so I guess that is why I left the church, because I would just rather be accepted than try to be something I can’t, and if that means I go to hell, so be it.”

“What, you think being gay is a sin?” Don asked. “How can you be gay and ever say that?”

“I don’t know, I guess I’ve always been taught that. And it has been that way for hundreds of years. The traditional church hasn’t exactly gone back and forth on this one until recently. I’m not really religious so I don’t care. I mean I accepted Christ and was baptized and all that when I was younger, but a part of me feels like that was a kid thing. Life is just different.”

“I’m just shocked that you would ever think that being gay is sinful,” Don said.

I sat and watched the evening continue to unfold. Politics mixed with religion and things were talked about in a bizarre non-offensive way. I watched Don and his uncanny ability to connect with anyone. He used his ornery sort of way that rubbed up against you to make an emotional point and then he had the ability to compliment the person in another way to make them feel valued. It was a gift and something that I admired.

A couple days later Don called me.

“Hey Chris, I’m going to send you a couple emails between Bobby and me—you know the guy from Café Brazil. It would be great if we could get him to come on Monday night.”

“Yeah, send them. That would be awesome.”

“Oh hey, I got a customer, I will call you later.”

I went online and downloaded the emails. It seemed there was quite a chain.

From: Bobby
To: Don
Subject: hey this is bobby!

Just thought I’d touch base with you and say hello! have a good day!

11:46 AM, Don Dent wrote:

Bobby, Good morning. Having you join the guys for dinner last night was great. I'm glad you could rearrange your schedule to meet us. Ken, the guy you were talking with about economics is really cool. He lives close by and we get together for coffee or lunch occasionally. Listening to your opinion of Christianity was extremely interesting. You’re very open to observations. When you spoke of basic human tendencies regarding what was right or wrong or sin—WOW I've never heard that opinion and you make a good point. I look forward to hearing more of that discussion. I’d like to see it progress to some point I would be comfortable with. I don't k now if comfortable is the right word. You know I’m very new to Christianity and your knowledge of this and everything else overwhelms me. You’re very intelligent. I guess that's no secret to you. 

Steven , the guy who was more or less the person you were debating theology with is very intelligent but he is so far removed from anything that I’m familiar with—I think that's why he’s so interesting. Most of those guys aren't close to any gay men. I've been the token  gay guy. We have these studies every Monday night at 7: 00 you are especially welcome. It’s not anything you have to join, some guys just show up once in a while—some every week. I have attended every week since the week before my conversion.

Are you dating anyone? Just wondered. My lover and I have been together 18 years. It’s really good to hear from you, Bobby, Thanks. Hope your day goes well.


From: Bobby

To: Don
Subject: Re: hey this is bobby!

Thank you for the complements that you gave me.  I really enjoyed hanging out with you guys, too (although I stayed too late LOL).  I really enjoy discussions like the one that we had.  I think that intellect, like democracy, depends on a variety of opinions and views and weighing them out for yourself, and I don’t think it’s intellectually healthy to only study or hear opinions within your own sphere of influence so I enjoyed it.  I think it would be cool to get together and watch films or have a book club or something—though I am really busy—I’ll make it when I can. 

And I'm single. 18 years is a long time, I always like to hear about a relationship that has been together for a long time. I would like to meet him sometime—why doesn’t he come to the meetings?  Maybe if they were more oriented towards just a social gathering? 


From: Don

Sent: Wednesday, February 20, 2008 8:57 AM
To: Bobby
Subject: FW: hey this is bobby!

Bobby, thanks, you are so right about opinions from different sources. For years I have been around gay liberal democrats or independents, but it’s been healthy to listen to other sides and get to know some of those people—to leave my comfort zone. I have been pissed off, hopefully it’s been reciprocated. LOL, I’ll get over it.

This group that I’m with in the study of Matthew is incredible. Those guys are so real and that’s infectious. I mentioned earlier, you would be very welcome, I have had questions most seem pretty juvenile, but they are things I don’t know or understand. Some of these guys even with the enormous age difference have become very close to me. It’s very cool having some straight friends. If Christians would take the initiative and leave their comfort zones without being coerced it would make a difference.  

At the same time, some of these Christian’s have been so secluded form non-Christians they would freak out in the non-Christian world—I just don’t think Jesus intended Christians to isolate—I’ll get off my rant.

Thanks for your number. It’s appreciated. I’ve invited my lover to church and to the study group. My conversion has been strange for me, but for him it’s unbelievable. He has liked the guys he’s met through coming into our shop, but he’s not a “meeting” person.

Bye again 


I sat back and pondered Don for a moment. He had turned into the most on fire evangelist and he hadn’t fully accepted Orthodox Christianity. Here is a guy that continued to face antagonism from the men in the group for his lifestyle, but he started to enjoy them so much, that he wanted to share that with others. Don’s observations on Christians were right on. I smiled. Somehow we started to figure out how to be salt and light to people who were supposed to be our enemies.