Marriage equality in Illinois!

The other day Illinois became the 15th state to marriage equality to all. I am encouraged by this momentous time in my lifetime, and I am pleased that my friends within the LGBT community have the opportunity (if they so choose) to get married and have the rights afforded to them that they once did not.

As a follower of Christ and a straight ally I welcome this newest law that has passed within my state. I believe that between consenting individuals they should be allowed to love and marry whomever they choose to. I truly believe that love wins, and for some that love has been hampered by the lack of being to officially take their love to the level of marriage per their state’s laws, but now in Illinois that is no longer an issue.

Such an awesome moment in Illinois’ history,
Nathanael

Engagement over judgment

The other night at my youth ministry meeting with my fellow high school leaders and middle school leaders, we played a game of “5 minutes in the hot seat”, essentially 5 minutes of questioning the individual that was provided to us, to give ourselves a chance to talk and share a bit of who we are and our stories.

When it got to my turn I got a gist of the kind of questions my fellow youth ministry leaders were asking one another, and so prior to getting up there and answering I started mulling over my answers, but one of my favorite youth leaders asked me out of the blue “what is something you hate?” I responded as such.

I hate it when followers of Christ choose judgment over engagement in regards to the LGBT community. When Christians make assumptions, or all they have on their mind is same sex sexual intercourse, there’s a wall that gets put up and those kind of Christians keep it up, maintain it, but by no means do a lot of Christians step forward to question the wall, leap over the wall, or even break down that wall.

The wall will not always exist within Christian culture, I have faith in God that it will come down completely over time, but I do recognize that while laws on a government level are yanking down the wall (good stuff!) it will take a while for people’s hearts to change…and this is where I come in.

As a straight advocate for equal rights for everyone who is made in God’s image, I believe I am called to build bridges between the Christian community and the LGBT community. I choose engagement over judgment, and while I cannot change people’s hearts, I hope and have faith in God that through me and others who are like-minded and like-hearted will help others choose this path.
I do realize as in my own journey getting to this point it takes time, it takes having faith and holding it out with open hands instead of getting caught up in belief and certainty with closed hands. It also takes time to develop personal thoughts and concepts paired with tangible and dynamic love, getting away from “my mom says/my father says/my pastor says/my professors say” is a lengthy but worthwhile endeavor.

So that’s what I hate, but it’s a hate I will overcome with love, God’s love, it takes time but it will be worth it, I have faith it will be.

~Nathanael~

2 things I’m contemplating prior to the Gay Pride Parade in Chicago

There are some individuals who say that you should compartmentalize and keep the sacred from the secular and vice versa. Yet the way I look at it, all truth is God’s truth and there doesn’t need to be a split up of the so-called sacred and secular.

As I prep for the Gay Pride Parade in Chicago I’m contemplating two things, one’s a well known prayer and one’s a cover song by Todd Rungren’s band Utopia called Love is theAnswer.

Saint Francis of Assisi’s prayer:

Utopia/Todd Rundgren – Love is the Answer

I’m excited for a third year to build bridges between the Christian community and the LGBT community (not that there’s no overlap but there needs to be more) at the Gay Pride Parade in Chicago. God spoke to me prior to the event 3 years ago and I listened and I acted, and so I prepare to leave my house to answer the call once again.

It must be done, building bridges, because this is an issue the church cannot sweep under the carpet and hope nobody notices…well I notice it and the way we act the LGBT community knows it as well. These things take time, but I have faith in God and my generation that we will take care of the matter to truly take the steps of restoration and reconciliation between the Christian community and the LGBT community. Yet since it is in it’s early stages those individuals who go forward now, such as Andrew Marin and The Marin Foundation, are pioneers; they’re blazing a trail that hasn’t been traversed and they’re going on faith and trusting in God because the outcome hasn’t been determined yet…but God will see them and I to completion, I have faith in him to do that 🙂

John 13:34 – “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

~Nathanael~

Get out out of church and get to a Gay Pride Parade!

If you are a follower of Christ who desires to build bridges between the Christian community and the LGBT community, I advise you (since most of the parades fall on a Sunday) to get out of church and get to a Gay Pride Parade.

It’s one thing to say to yourself and others that you want to engage individuals who have been hurt by Christians, who have been marginalized and maybe even rejected, that you want to build a bridge, that you want to bring about some form of reconciliation and restoration…but if you don’t do it, what good are your words?

Words can lead to ideas, ideas can lead to plans, so why not make your words tangible and go to a Pride Parade and simply take the time to apologize to the individuals around you and even in the parade that you’re sorry for the way Christians have been unChristlike, heck if you personalize it (if you’ve been on the side of judgment and being unloving) and share where you’ve been and where God is leading you, I bet that will go a long way!

I don’t know when all the Gay Pride Parades are, so you’ll have to Google search your city plus Pride Parade.

In 10 days Chicago will be having their Gay Pride Parade and I intend to be there with some friends, The Marin Foundation and Andrew Marin. We’ll probably be in front of the IHOP in Boys Town. I am a follower of Christ and it is my desire and passion to build bridges between the Christian community and the LGBT community, will I be skipping church? Yes I will! I have no qualms about it, here’s why…

In Jesus’ telling of the parable of the prodigal son, the father doesn’t wait around for his son to come back to him, but rather when he sees his son in the distance he runs full of compassion to him. Too often I think the church sits back and waits for people to come through the doors and doesn’t budge from its seat, but that’s now how Jesus lived! Jesus engaged the people where they were, he went to them, he lived and functioned amongst them. Sure there were times when Jesus needed a breather and so he and his disciples would get away from it all for a short while, but then he would go back to the people, to humanity.

So like the father in Jesus’ parable I run! I choose to engage the LGBT community where they are and not waiting around for them to come to church, if they do, that’s great! But I rather go to the LGBT community, to the Gay Pride Parade, where the rubber meets the road…and guess what? “Where two or three are gathered in my name there I am in the midst of them” (italics are mine) God’s already at the Gay Pride Parade, he invites me and my friends and others to be a part not be apart.

Don’t let church get in the way,
Be the church at your local Gay Pride Parade this year!

~Nathanael~

6/30 – Being myself is a difficult task at times

Being myself is a difficult task at times

The road my life is heading to is hardly paved let alone well marked as to where I’m going can be bothersome and quite lonely. Without a trace of elitism I say that following God into uncharted waters is very daunting at times, but it must be done.

Pressure much? I know there are Christians out there who are doing their part at building bridges between the Christian community and the LGBT community, there’s overlap but there needs to be more and I want to be a part of that process. It still pisses me off at times when I think about who the majority of my critics for this is, fellow Christians, individuals I’ve known for years still try to cut me down and write off what God’s doing and what I’m doing. I had a pastor that for a while I respected start making fun of the LGBT community and I stepped in and defended them, he got angry because I got the upper hand in a peaceful manner, so he let me know that I’m going to hell as a result, hardly Christlike at all.

I am getting better at handling my critics, but it still gets to me when Christians open up their mouth and feel free to say whatever the hell they feel like. Jesus demonstrated love and humility, he didn’t open up his mouth all the time but only when necessary, some things I want to speak out against but I bite my lip, but when it comes to speaking up for someone or others, I will!

To paraphrase Martin Luther King Jr. “It’s not the words of our enemies we’ll remember but the silence of our friends” and honestly I don’t want to be on the side of silence. Plus there’s the dynamic of the poem by Martin Niemöller called First they came;

First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

I don’t want to get to a point where my silence speaks louder than my words, I don’t want to grow old[er] and find myself in a place where I’m complacent in hostility, if God grants me a long life I hope to do my best to honor him with all of my years and not find a niche that fits nicely, where I have the big house, the 401K, the summer home along the coast. I was born for pressure and I can hold my own, where I’m going isn’t a well trod path but God is with me, and as Paul said in Romans 8:31 “If God is for us who can be against us?” I personalize that verse, if God is for me who can be against me?

It’s a road that I don’t know where it’ll take me, the end is not inside, but God is with me.

Challenge accepted!

~Nathanael~

P.S. Another factor to this road ahead of me is finding my June, God willing she’s up to being a part of this journey as well. I know there are girls out there who desire to build bridges between the Christian community and the LGBT community, I just have to find her 🙂 Where art thou my fairest June? 😉