The Finger Reader

The commonplace of a man who longs to be.
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Our world is a world of hunger, pain, suffering, and want. Even in neighborhoods where most people have enough to eat, we still live in want. We’re still unsatisfied. We may not long for bread, but we long for meaning, intimacy, fulfillment, community, purpose, and joy. We long for the world to be sorted out.

Jesus doesn’t fit in our world. He breaks down our categories. He bursts our expectations. His actions do not fit the laws and expectations of this world. To judge them by the standards of this world is a category mistake. To judge them by your experience is to miss the point. They don’t belong in this world because they give us a glimpse of another world. Jesus coming was the start of a new world. His actions were a sign of God’s coming world.
A Meal with Jesus: Community, Mission and The Table by Tim Chester

For a long time I wouldn’t let God redeem my sexuality because I felt it to inadequate, to dirty, to profane. But the thing is I had to come to the realization that my entirity was profane. Thats why Jesus had to die. I had to accept that his Son was beaten, mocked, tortured and crucified for people like us, the all of us. Even in that I felt so inadequate. I had to come to the realization though that I was profane, he also made me. That he made all of us to be hosts to his Holy Spirit. A place for his Spirit to dwell. Truth be told, both the temple of Solomon and the temple that is our bodies, made out of dirt, inadequately serve to host Him; yet He comes. He, not the temple, makes the place holy. He makes me holy. He makes us holy. That only in accepting the great cost in Him redeeming me and allowing me to be made different, holy from his Holiness, was I only able then to know what it meant to have my sexuality redeemed.

Dear S,

Some here are some other points about emphasizing a redemption of sexuality include modeling our sexuality after the Trinity based from our previous conversation. Our sexuality should always be about the one we love. Ever self-giving. Seeking to magnify them in the emptying of ourselves. In doing so we find in losing ourselves in love do we find love. This is the best way a husband should be to his wife, ever giving in love. This is the best way for a wife to be with her husband, ever giving in love. In doing so the glory of love given by God is magnified. Both in self-giving find it circular and fulfilling. This is how marriage, two becoming one, should be. Selfish love will destroy a union quicker than fire to paper. Only in selfless love will cause a union to prosper. This is in part the redemption of the sexuality. Our sexuality should model the Trinity.

And for those of us emphasize the spiritual marriage to Jesus (celibacy) we should model our sexuality after the Trinity too. We as His bride seek to empty ourselves and give ourselves fully to our Groom, Jesus. He, as Lord and Love, gives himself fully in abundance beyond our wild imagination to our delight. The joy overflows in abundance as we seek to give and give but can never out give the one who loves us. Our sexuality finds heavenly and earthly dimension in this light for the true author and receipent of our intended adoration makes himself known. Praise be to God.

The beauty of both the spiritual marriage of the celibate and the earthly marriage of husband & wife is that there comes a point in the maturity of love where the distinction between the individuals becomes blurred. We can distinguish the husband from the bride and the bride from the husband, but the overlap in selfless love causes a point of blurring where you are not sure where one ends spiritually and the other begins. Likewise we as celibates who are married to Jesus experience the same thing. The blurring of ourselves with Jesus is a marvelous thing. May it be so that we may never be seen a part from Him!

Ben



Dear M,

Believe me, I completely understand your dissatisfaction and angst with the church. So often we have allowed ourselves to be demeaned. And you are most certainly right that everyone, both gays and straights, have gifts and talents that are to be contributed to the body of Christ. You are right that the ‘disordered’ verbiage smacks of incapacity and perversion. And you are right that a number of political campaigns within the world and the church often are taking blows and jibes, knowingly or unknowingly, at the individuals who are Side B**.


But this is where we can stand strong.

The straights may point their fingers at us all day long calling out the otherness and the difference at us who are gay in contrast to their own sexuality. Likewise, in reverse, we could practice this unhelpful behavior all day long doing the same. But neither groups in naming calling and separating out their differences would be of any help in the end. There is only one whom both the straights and gays should see themselves through, the Holy God.

Holy, Holy, Holy is our Lord God almighty. Nothing stands in comparison to Him. Until we have contrasted ourselves against the majesty of God who is holy, holy, holy and more; we as humans, both gay and straight, are blind to see our broken incapacities. Blind to see our incapacities in all things. Blind to see that in all things they are not as they should be. Blind to see we are in bondage to a life and a world that should have been different. Blind. But the good news is just like that old song Amazing Grace goes, “I once was blind, but now I see … How precious did that Grace appear. The hour I first believed.” Christ opens our eyes to see and to see the hope to come.

We as the people of God believe that there is a greater life, one that we have only begun to foretaste in the now. We believe there will be a day when all our incapacities, all things that fell short shall be made right. There shall be a day when the straights and gays are no more, but only a people of God who were redeemed by blood of the lamb covered in the utter holiness of The Son who set us, the captives, so very free to enjoy and be endowed by the great love of the holy Father who calls us his children and transforms us to become like the angels yet greater, to only delight in His eternal joy as a people unified as one through the very seal of His wonderful Spirit, which brings all sorts of new understanding allowing us to know each other more deeply and intimately than anything imaginable. (Sorry about the run-on sentence but I did not want to break the unity of how it is interconnected) Our sexual orientation, straight or gay, shall seem like a forgotten shadow in this light. Our current sexual orientation, both gays and straights, will seem so utterly lacking when compared to the union and communion of the Triune God when he invites us to dance a long with Him in joyful bridal union along with all His other brides. Yes our sexual orientation is utterly lacking in comparison for what the holy God shall bring about. But let us not be down trodden. Let us celebrate for what is to come is partially here now. How wonderful it is in the now that our Groom has given us a portion of what is to come by His Holy Spirit in the joy of the marriage communion. How great it is to be the bride of Christ! 

It behooves us then, both gays and straights, to celebrate that our desire for communion and union will one day be fulfilled yet being filled now. It behooves us then to be reminded that our sexuality, both gays and straights, is not as it should be but it will be as it should one day. But it would be even more wrong for us in the now to denounce our current sexual orientation, whether straight or gay, as evil. So let’s follow the example of the Apostle Paul as outlined in Romans and be reminded of first things: that we, along with the world, do indeed have elements of good given by our Creator but it is not enough; so we are in desperate need of redemption that is only offered through Jesus the Christ. 

Sorry about that super long theological rant above :D When I think about the holiness of God and how lacking we are as a people in contrast, and the hope of the future in Christ Jesus our Lord; well it brings me to such overcoming joy! And the wonders of being celibate giving myself over to Jesus and the great & utter wonderful presence of his Spirit that he gave to us now is beyond wonders! Praise be to God!

Now back to where I was going :D When straights see us they see something that is so different, something that is so completely other to them. Yet we are in so many ways still like them. The ministry this allows us to part take in by being different is to point to the one who is completely different, Holy, our Lord & God. Likewise when we see the difference in our fellow brothers and sisters who are straight we are not to shun the difference but to look to the otherness of God, who is the Holy. In doing so, our sexuality which had formerly separated us as people may be infused by the holiness of God to bring wholeness. Gay, Bi, and Straight sexuality is broken without God. Seeing the difference reminds us of this that all of humanity needs their sexuality redeemed. And in redemption we find unity. 

So what I would encourage, and I even speaking to myself here, is that when anyone speaks of another’s sexuality as being disordered to remind them that their own sexuality is in need of redemption too. We are all unfit. If the Lord tarries, then we shall die partially in an unfit state.  But if we are talking like this, then please whatever we do let us not pass this moment up! May we use these moments to share the good news of Jesus Christ as redeemer and the great hope of The Resurrection. 

I know it sucks that sometimes being Side-B (samesex oriented but celibate) feels like it is inevitable that we get caught up in the cross hairs of the Church. Sometimes the pressure is so extradonary, it makes one wonder how will we prevail even with Christians shooting their own. But take heart it is not you, but Christ through you, that will prevail. So turn that which was meant to harm or lacked goodness into a chance to glorify God, for we all can by the grace and power of the Holy Spirit. It is only Christ himself that brings each of us to his table. We are all so unfit without him; yet he loves us so terribly much that the King of Kings sets a place for us at his table. And by his hand he brings us in to be with Him and all who desire Him. Praise be to God!

Ben 

———————————————

**This letter uses the term Side B.   Side B is a term used roughly in some of the religious communities catering to LGBT individuals to describe those like myself who believe that it is ok to be samesex oriented but not to have samesex intercourse.

Our world is a world of hunger, pain, suffering, and want. Even in neighborhoods where most people have enough to eat, we still live in want. We’re still unsatisfied. We may not long for bread, but we long for meaning, intimacy, fulfillment, community, purpose, and joy. We long for the world to be sorted out.

Jesus doesn’t fit in our world. He breaks down our categories. He bursts our expectations. His actions do not fit the laws and expectations of this world. To judge them by the standards of this world is a category mistake. To judge them by your experience is to miss the point. They don’t belong in this world because they give us a glimpse of another world. Jesus coming was the start of a new world. His actions were a sign of God’s coming world.

A Meal with Jesus: Community, Mission and The Table by Tim Chester
Sinful misery does not love the company of purity.
The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul

…as it became less and less clear among Protestants what it “means” to be Christian there have increasingly been attempts to “do” ethics. The difficulty is that no consensus about what ethics is or how it should be done existed. As a result, theologians often turned to philosophy for resources in their search for an ethic-resources that ironically helped create the problem of how to relate theology and ethics because now it was assumed that “ethics” is an autonomous discipline that is no longer dependent on religious conviction.

———-

The assumption, for example, that students should take “systematic theology” before they take ethics invites the presumption that theology is in some sense more basic than ethics. In such a context theology begins to look like a “metaphysics” on which one must get straight before one can turn to questions of ethics. Yet as I have indicated above, through most of Christian history Christians have not thought it possible to distinguish so easily between what they believe and what they do. At stake is the question of whether theology is first and foremost a discipline of the church or of the university.

The Hauerwas Reader (Selected Essays of Stanley Hauerwas)

I heard it said recently that first and foremost a person should be a parent. I really don’t believe that is true. I do often think back to the story I had heard about my father and his pastor. When my father was a kid and was around the age of twelve, he was jumped by the son of his pastor. My father, despite his size, beat the snot out of the pastor’s son who had meant him harm. The pastor became furious and damned my father. He kicked him out of the church and forbade him to ever come back, calling him a son of the devil. Since then, my father til the day he died, carried a hatred for the church and denied God. I really do believe first and foremost we need to be a person of faith seeking to model ourselves after God. Practicing caution and seeking God in our actions when dealing with others. Don’t get me wrong, being a parent is very important; but first and foremost our faith should be the dominate thing which shapes our lives, even the sphere of parenthood. Snt. Benedict encouraged all who would listen to him to try to see God in everyone, and treat them with hospitality even if they had done wrong. I wonder what would of been had the outcome of my father if his pastor choose to be a pastor instead of blindly defending his son as a parent. Who knows. Maybe my father would of kept his faith, but I’ll never know.

We dread the regions of ourselves we don’t understand. By learning to value the otherliness of the actual stranger, we honor the mystery within us, too.
And You are Christ’s by Fr. Thomas Dubay
But critical questions still need to be raised. Can real intimacy be reached without a deep respect for that holy place within and between us, that space that should remain untouched by human hands? Can human intimacy really be fulfilling when every space within and between us is being filled up? Is the emphasis on the healing possibilities of human togetherness not often the result of a one-sided perception of our human predicament?
Henry Nouwen in Clowning in Rome: Reflections on Solitude, Celibacy, Prayer & Contemplation
They joked a lot where he lived. If he had thought about it before, he would have thought Jesus Christ was a word like “oh” or “damm” or “God,” or maybe somebody who had cheated them out of something sometime. When he had asked Mrs. Connin who the man in the sheet in the picture over her bed was, she had looked at him a while with her mouth open. Then she had said, “That’s Jesus,” and she had kept on looking at him.
A Good Man is Hard to Find & Other Stories by Flannery O’Coner
Short Story: The River

It is best to love others. Love others unconditionally, extravagantly, and recklessly. This indeed is the best way. This is the right way to live. But if the heart isn’t able to love then be angry. If in the anger an ounce of love can not be found, then let their be hate. BUT above all do not be indifferent. The pathway of indifference leads to desiring nonexistence. To desire nonexistence for someone is the absolute worse. It is better to wish someone dead in cold hard murder than to wish that they had never been.

Jesus encourages us to pray for our enemies, and even to revel in persecution because it augurs a reward in heaven. But the Didache takes the love of enemy one step further than Jesus does in the gospel accounts when it bids the believer to “fast for those who persecute you.” This may be another indication that the Didache was utilizing sources different from, but available at the same time as, those used for writing the canonical gospels.
The Teaching of The Twelve: Believing and Practicing Primitive Christianity of the Ancient Didache Community by Tony Jones
The charism of celibacy changes a person from within. It readies a woman or a man in a radical manner for the ultimate purpose of all human life.
And You are Christ’s by Fr. Thomas Dubay

Be thou my vision O Lord of my heart
None other is aught but the King of the seven heavens.
Be thou my meditation by day and night.
May it be thou that I behold even in my sleep.

Be thou my speech, be thou my understanding.
Be thou with me, be I with thee
Be thou my father, be I thy son.
Mayst thou be mine, may I be thine.

Be thou my battle-shield, be thou my sword.
Be thou my dignity, be thou my delight.
Be thou my shelter, be thou my stronghold.
Mayst thou raise me up to the company of the angels.
Be thou every good to my body and soul.

Be thou my kingdom in heaven and on earth.
Be thou solely chief love of my heart.
Let there be none other, O high King of Heaven.
Till I am able to pass into thy hands,
My treasure, my beloved through the greatness of thy love

Be thou alone my noble and wondrous estate.
I seek not men nor lifeless wealth.
Be thou the constant guardian of every possession and every life.
For our corrupt desires are dead at the mere sight of thee.
Thy love in my soul and in my heart —

Grant this to me, O King of the seven heavens.
O King of the seven heavens grant me this —
Thy love to be in my heart and in my soul.
With the King of all, with him after victory won by piety,
May I be in the kingdom of heaven O brightness of the son.
Beloved Father, hear, hear my lamentations.
Timely is the cry of woe of this miserable wretch.
O heart of my heart, whatever befall me,
O ruler of all, be thou my vision.

Be Thou My Vision (translated 1905 by Mary E. Byrne)
(before Versification in 1912)