a priest's musings on the journey

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Perspective: On Being Invisible

Part of the salvation (wholeness) offered by Christ to us is the gift of knowing God and being known by God. Not just known, but truly known. When we are united with Christ in baptism, our sinnful, false identity dies. It is taken up into God in Jesus Christ; it is redeemed, transformed, sanctified and loved. It is given back to us, born anew by water and the Spirit, and our true self- the person God created us to be- is revealed. The problem is that many of us can not, for whatever reason, see or accept our true self in Christ; we miss the old self or we are afraid of our Christ-self ; so, it takes a lifetime (and more) for this true reality to be experienced in time and space.

Sometimes we are afraid to be who we really are (especially gays and lesbians and other oppressed peoples) because we believe the lie that because our self is different than the acceptable selves of the majority, then it must not be holy and Christ-like. We believe the lie that we are sinful, because some gay people pervert God's gift of sexuality (as if heterosexulas never do that ). We stuff that unacceptable person into a coffin, and create this false person to join to Christ; and yet, that false self never is able to unite to GOd. We cling to the masks for protection and desparately try to pull off our charade; but, our struggle against letting go of the masks and destroying the facades that project our false self does not nullify our true identity.

We can hide from who we truly are, as we have been doing since we first hid in Eden's garden. We can lie to ourselves and we can close the doors of our soul and shut out anyone that threatens us; but, we can not hide from God. It's not that we can not escape from the all-seeing eye of God, although I believe that is a true statement- it's more because we have become a part of God. All of who we are, the good, the bad, and the ugly, has been taken up into the humanity of Jesus and made whole. Through the sacraments and the life of prayer, study, and service, our union with God, indeed our life in GOd is nurtured as we learn how to be who we already are- little Christ's in the world. Through this strength- God's very strength manifested in our weakness, we are able to gain the courage to shed the false exteriors and let the Light of Christ illuminate who we truly are in God.

When I as a gay man hide my sexuality and implicitly pretend to be someone that I am not, I not only lose my integrity by dishonoring myself, but I also dishonor God, in whose image I have been created, from whom my gift of sexuality was given, and in whom I have my being. I don't think that I've ever said out loud until this moment that I, a gay man, am also a bearer of the imago Dei; I too reflect the image of God! I have been baptized too! I have been sealed by the Holy Spirit and made as Christ's own forever too! I have been joined to Christ and I am a member of Christ's Body too! When the Church asks me to be invisible- to hide my sexuality- to not rock the boat by telling the truth- they are asking me to hide my Christ-light under the bushel. They are asking me to hide myself, as if I should be ashamed for being the person God created me to be. They are telling me that my presence in Christ;s body embarrasses them.

Some days I don't think that I can bear the oppressive pain of exclusivity any longer. I question why I came out. I wonder if I should just go back in the closet and just be who I truly am in private. Life would be so easy that way. I wouldn't have to struggle to find affirming parishes; I wouldn't have to be so obsessively concerned about offending the blue haired ladies. But, just when I am about to turn out the light and shut the closet door, a get a note or a phone call from someone telling me how inspirational I am to them in living honestly as a gay member of the Bod of Christ. Then, the Holy Spirit reminds me, that my visibility not only honors God by celebrating God's good creation within me and the Spirit's re-creation that is forming me to be more like Christ, but my visibility makes those who are invisible visible. My voice gives voice to those who are too afraid to speak and to sorrowful to sing. My presence behind the altar and in the pulpit, in the hospital room and in the soup kitchen, makes visible the hidden members of God's family; it reveals the fullness and the richness of the diversity of members and gifts that make up the people of God. So, no, I won't hide to make you feel more comfortable; I won't lie about who I am so that you can maintain your white, straight, male, middle-upper class, Protestant image of God. I won't condone the Church's oppression of gays and lesbians. I won't hide my Christ-light: I will let it drive away the dark shadows of fear, injustice, oppression and hate. I have a responsibilty- indeed a sacred calling- to be who I am in Christ; to live a life worthy of Christ; to live as an example of what a gay member of Christ's Body looks like. I will be known as God knows me, redeems me, sanctifies me, and loves me so that you can be known as God knows, redeems, sanctifies and loves you!

pax- padrerob+
:: posted by Padre Rob+, 3:21 PM

3 Comments:

This was very moving... and I can simply say Amen!

--Jason
Blogger Jason, at 12:40 PM  
Hi Rob,

Wonderful text!

The most important thing is that you are living your truth, the truth that only you and God knew before you came out, but now is revealed to everyone, because you have no reason to hide it anymore.

Very touching... May God bless your life more and more!
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