So today I was on Twitter finding people to stal— I mean, “follow.” I heard about this cool movement called the Tiny House Movement. So I did a search for “Tiny Homes.” And Ellen Page came up first. “I love Ellen Page!” said I, and realized why she came up first: She’s a self-described “Tiny Canadian.”
I’ve always loved Ellen Page’s style, ever since I first watched Juno in high school (still one of my faves). I scanned her Twitter account for a while, and realized she is actually wittier and more blunt in real life than she even was in Juno. Jelly! I also wish I knew how to roller blade. Bam. Then I went away.
Couple hours later, as I was searching for something on Google, I found some news headline about Ellen being gay. I was like, “Duh. That’s not new. Everyone knows Ellen DeGeneres identifies as gay.” And then I saw the last name, “Page.” “Ellen Page.” Why does that ring a bell? “Ellen Page…”
In case you didn’t know, I’m probably the most oblivious person on earth. (I’m kind of surprised I even know how oblivious I am). (I wish I could speak whale!)
So anyway, this tiny Canadian’s closet experience has been on my mind quite a bit. I wasn’t originally going to write a post on it. Who knows if I’ll post it. But if nothing else, I need to write this for myself.
Who are you?
Allow me to introduce myself.
I have a past, a present, and a future. I have things that walk around with me. But they aren’t me. I am me. I struggle with certain temptations, and I am prone to certain sins more than others. I am also prone to certain careers more than others.
But they aren’t me. I’m me.
A lot of Christian-type people lately have been comparing the US to the Roman Empire nearing its fall. One reason for this is that the idea of the family unit is changing drastically. Families these days are not just a husband, wife, and kids. They’re messy. They’re diverse. Some are ugly. Some are beautiful. There are mixed-race families, broken families, Brady-bunch families (my term), and Into the Woods families, where pretty much no one is related but they all support each other. Less people are getting married. More people are living together. And then, of course, there’s the homosexuality thing. The H-word. There’s gay couples, lesbian couples, gay parents, lesbian parents; men who’ve left women for other men, and vice versa. There are faithful homosexual couples, and unfaithful heterosexual couples. There’s a lot more.
If you know me well, you know I have very, very strong beliefs about homosexuality. And by that, I mean, I stick to the very rigid belief that the first and foremost-ly (I know, it’s not a word) important thing to do when you have a friend or a self who is attracted to people of the same gender, is to listen. Listen to their story. Investigate it.
I believe this in any kind of emotional anything, especially when it’s dealing with sexuality, which is such a personal, deep thing. I have beliefs about the morality/immorality of different kinds of sexuality. But first and foremost, I believe it’s the attitude of Jesus to validate people’s experiences, to understand where they’re coming from and why, and to see them as a person.
This is one of the reasons why our current view of sexual identity in the Western world is so… concerning.
We live in a culture where
In the West, you are what you do.
You get what you give.
You are what you feel.
It’s your destiny.
You can’t change it.
Consider when someone calls himself or herself an “alcoholic.” It’s a label. there is a lot of weight in that label. When I think “alcoholic,” I think “dangerous.” “Can’t control themselves.” If I find out someone’s an alcoholic, I think of them differently forever. I may not care about them less, but my whole paradigm of who they are changes.
Whenever someone puts on a label, I start to see them through that filter — that is… until I get to know who they really are.
If someone came up to me and said, “Hi. I’m an ex-con,” I’d probably be a little freaked out. My first question in my head not be,
“So why are you here?
What are your dreams and passions?
Do you feel loved and appreciated in your life?”
It would probably be,
“What did you do?”
I think there is so much more to us than that as human beings.
(My boss is an ex-con, by the way. He’s the reason I have a job right now.)
To be honest, it really saddens me the pain that I could hear in Ellen’s voice as she made her speech. “I’m tired of hiding.”
She’s been carrying around this burden, either all by herself or with a very select few people, and likely felt many a time that nobody on this planet even knew who she really was.
I think we make too big of a deal out of our feelings. The feelings that Ellen feels should not weigh on her this much. But they do. Because in the Western world, your sexual identity is just that:
I came across a poll today on BuzzFeed called “How Gay are You?’ One of the questions was, “Do you feel attracted to the same sex?” This answer would then feed into the answer of how gay you are.
So, according to our Western beliefs… if you’re attracted to the same sex, you’re not this identity we call straight. You are gay.
You are gay.
Gay is who you are.
That’s a lot banking on just your feelings.
I’ve got a confession here, folks. I’m not making a huge deal out of it, because I don’t think it deserves to steal that much of my life and attention. I once thought it did. But now I don’t.
There have been many times in my life where I’ve been sexually attracted to someone of my same gender.
There are also times (albeit less common) when I’ve been attracted to someone of the opposite gender.
By the Western definition of the word (if I were to let it define me), you would be correct in slapping on a grand old sexual identity label on me of gay or bisexual. Wow.
But you know what? That’s not me.
I’m not defined by my feelings of lust for other human beings, no matter their gender. I’d rather be defined by something else. Namely, my love for God — no matter what I happen to be feeling at the time.
The Long Story That Needs to be Told
So. Way back a couple years ago I started a series on homosexuality on my blog. I never finished it. I was going to talk about what the Bible says about it. But quite frankly, I got pretty intimidated and never wrote it. I was going to do this crazy exegetical homelitical whozeehwatsit on it. I could write books on defending this collection of God-breathed manuscripts for what it is. And indeed, there have been many books written on it.
Which is why I’m gonna try to explain this briefly, according to how I understand it. Now, I don’t have all the answers, but I’ve heard quite a few different arguments, and weighed them against each other. Finding out where things match up and where things don’t.
So what does the Bible say about homosexuality?
There are a few select verses a lot of us point to that talk about it. Some are in the Old Testament — back before a the Messiah had come to bring atonement for sin. During this time, all people were under God’s wrath, unless they put their faith in God, that He would send a redeemer.
A lot of people wonder whether the people who lived before Jesus all go to Hell. I don’t think so. I think, just as we look back to the cross for saving faith, they looked forward to the coming Messiah, who would save them from their sins. both require faith. But since God is outside of time, and since “Jesus died for sins, once for all,” Christ’s sacrifice on the cross is big enough to cover people on both ends of the timeline.
So, some are in the Old Testament. Others are in the New Testament. Paul wrote about them in a specific culture in a specific point in time. Everything in the Bible was written in a specific culture in a specific point in time. cultural context helps us understand Christ’s parables in ways we wouldn’t really understand them without that context. But the truths of which they speak are still universal. I’ve heard people say Paul’s references to homosexuality were promiscuous, homosexual relationships only, and therefore, faithful homosexual relationships are acceptable, and God made certain people gay. I don’t see the solid evidence for that. Here’s why.
Even beyond these select verses, there are certain instutions that God created, from the very beginning, to represent Him, to bear Hi image, and to bring Him glory. The very first of these was marriage, the marriage between Adam and Eve. Genesis 1-3 gives the account of the creation of man and woman. God had been creating stuff. Heavens, earth, expanses, water, land, trees, swimming things, crawling things. He made all these things by just speaking them into existence. He can do that. It’s very logical that He would do something like that. He’s all-powerful. But when it came time to make man, he made him with His own hands. The Prime Minister of the Universe reached down into the mud like a little boy and built up man like a sand castle. He got his hands dirty. There was something special about man.
By this time, sin still hadn’t entered into the world. No evil. None. He had the man name animals and take care of nature (another thing Christians often neglect the importance of these days). Pretty cool. No factories, no hole in the ozone layer, nothing.
But still, Moses writes that God said, “It is not good for man to be alone.”
So he put Adam to sleep, ripped out a lung, and used it to form woman. Woman was the only thing not formed from words or dirt. Wow! Something special.
God could have created another man here. But he didn’t. I think there’s a reason why. the key is in Genesis 1:27. “Let us make man in our image.”
Why is God speaking in the first person plural? He’s talking about the Trinity.
You may have heard that “God is love.” But when you love, don’t you need to love something? Or someone?
Wouldn’t that mean God wasn’t love (aka God wasn’t God!) before He created anything?
Wrong. Because before anything else was created, God was in love! This is one reason the Trinity is important. Before and apart from all creation, God was/is/will be in a perfect love relationship with Himself. The Father loved/loves/will love the Son, The Son loved/loves/will love the Holy Spirit, and vice versa and so on for all six directions of that relationship.
The Trinity is God. “Male and female” human beings were made for the purpose of representing the image of God.
I’m inclined to believe there’s something special about male and female that represents God in a way only male or only female can. In the Trinity, each member brings something unique to the table. Even though God is God, the Father bears different qualities than the Son, and the Holy Spirit as well. For example, the Father is the Creating force behind creation, and the Son is the medium, in a way (“though him all things were made, and all things are sustained”).
Another thing that has shaped my belief. I once heard a sermon on the way to elementary school with my Dad. It was Chuck Swindoll. Dad and I used to listen to him a lot. I liked listening to him. But he said something I couldn’t really logically deny: “God created relationships. That means we don’t have the authority to define what those relationships look like.”
If God indeed did create marriage to be a unique kind of relationship between a man and a woman, that two men or two women can’t have, we really have no authority to change that. If life were a board game with rules, we’d have to abide by those rules to play that game. Change even one rule and you’re playing a different game entirely. Or else you’re cheating. 🙂
God brought you and me into existence. We had no say in the matter. I didn’t work for my body. I didn’t tell God to give me two eyes and ten toes. He made that decision, and I live with it.
Because God didn’t have to bring me into existence. I didn’t do anything to deserve to exist. I couldn’t have if I tried! Haha. You have to understand, existence in itself is a gift! Our Western culture causes us to think with this idea of entitlement. I deserve certain things just because I’m me. But you and I didn’t even do anything for God to make him decide to bring us into existence! We’re lucky!
If we don’t obey his rules, He has every right to define consequences for breaking those rules. We don’t have any right to break those rules. We don’t even have a right to exist! (Apart from, of course, the fact that He gave us what our Founding Fathers call “inalienable rights, endowed by our Creator!!!).
Thinking this way, I have no right to turn a relationship into something outside of what that relationship was meant to be. No matter what! Do I suddenly have a right to change up the rules of a board game just because I feel like it? Try that with your kid brother sometime, see how it blows over. Do I have a right to change God’s definition of a relationship because Western culture tells me it’s not a foul to be in that relationship? Not at all.
In your house, you can play by your house rules.
But this is God’s house, son.
And you exist here forever.
Create your own world if you must, but you will only be living in illusion.
If you want to live according to the truth, according to the reality of how things are, and your actual place in this universe, you may continue.
Anyway. That’s the more philosophical background behind this. Since I’m a social worker, I’ll give you the social background. The philosophical part is pretty straightforward. But the social part, to me, is utterly disturbing.
I haven’t told many people this. And now I suppose it will be all over the interwebs, or whatever. But here goes.
There was a time in college where I questioned my sexual orientation. It was confusing. It was isolating. I have a feeling almost every gay-identified person in the West (and the East) has gone through something like this before. Let me go into more detail.
I grew up having my own room. When I went to college, I was in a hall with dozens of other women. At one point, I had a fleeting feeling of sexual attraction toward one of the women in my hall. At first I thought, “that was weird.” Another one of these times happened on another occasion. So I started dwelling on it more. “Why am I feeling this way? I don’t want to feel this way.” And then “How can I make this stop?” and then “Do I want to make this stop?”
The more I thought about it, the more often it would happen, the more I would dwell on it, the more I’d wonder why this was happening. Questions. Where were the answers?
By the grace of God, I found some answers that made a lot of sense to me. I found a blog called “Journey of a Battling Christian.” This blog, unfortunately, has since been brought down by its author, Pastor Erik Wait. But it drastically changed my life. I wonder if Mr. Wait will ever know how much he has impacted my life.
This blog was about a man (Erik) who struggled with what he called “same-sex attraction.” He had written a story somewhat to mine — he had been attracted to his roommate in college — but he had come to terms with his attractions in a unique way.
On this blog was also a video by a psychologist named Dr. Mark Yarhouse. For the life of me I cannot find this video online either. Which is perhaps one of the reasons I’ve felt compelled to write this post. But it’s the reason I found this blog. Dr. Yarhouse had conducted a talk at a seminary called “Sexual Identity and Sexual Stewardship.” Stewardship! What a word. I had never thought of it that way — my sexuality is something to take care of, to cultivate, much like a garden, to protect from weeds and opportunist bunnies and whatnot.
Anyway, I can’t remember the details of the video. But I have posted a similar one in the “Resources” section of this blog.
That was the first thing that helped me. the second was Pastor Wait’s analysis of the first chapter of James. It goes a little something like this.
- In life, when you’re bopping along, all of a sudden, you’ll be tempted.
- Temptation, if you let it grow (like a weed), it gives birth to sin.
- Sin, if you let it grow (like a little baby), when it’s fully grown, it will grow into death.
Temptation –> Sin –> Death.
Curious, Watson. Temptation is different from sin. Jesus lived a perfect life, and he was tempted. Which means temptation is not sin.
I didn’t have to feel guilty for the feelings I was feeling.
God knew about them.
But because He had already conquered sin and death on the cross, I had the power to overcome temptation, to resist it, to find victory over it.
I didn’t have to let my temptations define me.
God would be there to help me through my temptations.
He specialized this illustration in James to homosexuality. Three levels again:
- Same-sex attractions (SSA)
- Isolated moments of lust or willing homosexual experiences
- Embracing a homosexual lifestyle and identity
I thought about it for a while after I first visited that blog, and kept coming back.
The more I thought about it, though, the more I felt spoiled. This information! It’s gold! Nobody knew about it. What about other kids like me? Are there other Christians like me? Wow…
Here’s my thought process. “I bet there a bunch of kids who’ve experience same-sex attraction, and not known what to do about it.”
Most of these kids have two choices.
Option One. Go to the church for help. “Hey pastor, I think I’m gay.” “That’s wrong. Don’t do that.”
Okay… So what about these feelings? Who do I go to about these feelings? What do I do when they come back? How do I stop them? As a matter of fact, I kind of like them…
Proceeds to continue with hidden battle with same-sex attractions. May or may not hate himself/herself for feeling this way, and/or giving into temptations. Feels incredibly alone. Feels judged whenever Christians make gay jokes, thinking there are no gay people around. Either lives the rest of life with this struggle a secret, or eventually the temptation becomes so strong he/she is lured into homosexual lifestyle. Feels far from God. Afraid to come back for fear of what people will think, and especially, what kind of judgment awaits from God. Either denies God completely or continues to live in moratorium for the rest of life. Burdensome. Confusing. Lonely. The end.
Option Two. Go to the world for help. Seek secular counseling. Go to LGBT resource center. Search online, take BuzzFeed quiz. Regardless, finds out, “I’m attracted to the same gender, so I must be gay.” Is encouraged to embrace this identity and be herself. Is encouraged to “stop hiding” and live fully herself. Wonders what God thinks, because she thought He didn’t like this. Thinks, “But I feel this way. And these people are telling me this is who I am. What’s right?” Either embraces homosexual identity, or is told they are “in the closet.” Feels like a coward. A betrayer. Tries to forget the past and what God says about homosexuality, and stay away from accusers and people who judge, so as to finally live in peace. May be afraid or weary of others opinions, but wants to be accepted. Lonely. The end.
(I’m not saying this is how it always is, but this was my thought process.) How unfair! I wonder how many Christians there are out there struggling with their sexual identity?!?!!
From that point on, I have had a heart not only to get a grasp on my own identity, but help others (Christian or not) to realize who they really are, who really defines them.
So what is that identity? Who, or what, defines who I am?
Is it the things I like to do?
Those change, so no.
Is it my job?
That changes too, so no.
Is it my feelings?
Those change too. I know I’m more than just my feelings…
That changes, too, darnit.
Identity is something that never changes, guys.
That’s why you’re you.
Very few of the cells in your body right now are the same cells you had when you were born. But you’re still you.
What makes you… you?
People can try to tell you who you are. Christians can try to tell you you’re straight. The world can try to tell you you’re gay. They’re both wrong. And besides,
They have no right to define you. That’s God’s job. He decided what kind of a thing you were when He made you.
So what are you according to God?
Now there’s a good question.
If there’s any kind of authority on who you are, it’s probably the guy who made you. He knows you inside and out. He knows who you’re attracted to. He knows your hopes and dreams. He knows the number of hairs on your head. He’s the only guy who’s been in the room with you (in your head, even), during every moment of your life. Heck, He probably knows you even better than you do (especially if you’re confused about who you are)!!
I believe God defines me. So I cling not to my feelings, but rather my identity according to the guy who made me, the guy who makes the rules about me. In college, there were times when I dwelt on lustful thoughts I should not have dwelt on about others in my life. There were times when I really envied people who had embraced a gay lifestyle, when I wanted nothing more than to identify with them. I know what it’s like to feel judged by Christians. I know what it’s like. Maybe not quite like others, but I know how much of a struggle it can be. Even now, I occasionally struggle with same-sex attraction. But now that I know who I am… I always have that identity to go back on. It’s not just lust. It’s not just emotional dependency. It’s not just genetics or past, and it’s not just choices. It’s spiritual. There is a spiritual battle for your heart. Who will win?
Long story short, Ellen Page is not gay. I am not gay. Nobody is gay. You can identify as gay. You can be attracted to the same gender, or the opposite gender, or both, or other genders.
But in this world that God made, you are not gay. You are not straight. You are you, a soul, loved by God, made to represent His image in a unique way that only you can.
Ellen, if you’re reading this, or if you know at all what I’m talking about, please just do me a solid and hear me out:
You are LOVED by God, you are ACCEPTED by God, you are FORGIVEN by God, and you are KNOWN by God. You are more than the sum of your feelings. You are more than the sum of your mistakes, or even your good deeds. Your very heart is loved completely by God, and He wants you to REST in the assurance that you are SAFE with him!!! And if you give him the change, He will walk with you throughout your life, and bring you VICTORY over the confusion, the lies, the loneliness, and everything that so desperately wants to pull you away from the ONE person who can completely fulfill all of your needs, wants, and desires… and so much more.
“If you’re still in, I’m still in.”
You just call My name.
Sidenote: The blog of which I speak in this post is one of the driving reasons I started my own blog in the first place. I started this blog my freshman year of college.