"Just be yourself," but should you?

Being both gay and Christian, we often feel the pull of two very different cultures, each telling us how we should live.  And though we strive to live holy, Christ-centered lives, there are times when it seems impossible not to identify with the “me-first” mentality that permeates the mainstream gay community.

There is no question that gay people have been treated badly in our society, both in and out of the church.  It is in response to this treatment that we find ourselves wanting to say to the rest of the world, “I’m not going to care what you think of me anymore!  I’m going to live the way I want to live, and I’m going to have Pride in Myself!”  This is often the response of the secular gay community.

Essentially, the secular gay community says, “Be yourself in all situations.  Don’t worry about how anyone else feels about it.  If they’re offended, too bad.”

But as Christians, we are (as usual) called to something greater than this.  We are God’s abassadors to the world, and that means we must be willing to change and adapt ourselves to the different situations we find ourselves in.  We must be willing to put aside our own freedoms — although they are our freedoms — in order to reach others with the love of God, whether those “others” are strict fundamentalists or party-loving secular gays.

As you read the following passage, notice how the issues Paul dealt with almost 2000 years ago are remarkably similar to the ones we deal with today as gay Christians.

1 Corinthians 9:19-23 (NASB)
For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.

About Joe

I began my life in the South and for five years lived as a closeted teacher, but am now making a new life for myself as an oral historian in New England. I think my life will work out the way it was always meant to be. That doesn't mean there won't be ups and downs; that's all part of life. It means I just have to be patient. I feel like October 7, 2015 is my new birthday. It's a beginning filled with great hope. It's a second chance to live my life…not anyone else's. My profile picture is "David and Me," 2001 painting by artist Steve Walker. It happens to be one of my favorite modern gay art pieces. View all posts by Joe

4 responses to “"Just be yourself," but should you?

  • Jay M.

    I just don't know what to say. It seems that there are very few exceptions to the view of Christians that so many of us have these days, even those of us who are Christians (but desperately in some cases trying to live it in the closet). The wingnuts who insist on dominating the news with their hatred and bigotry help no one but their own egos, as far as I can tell. And these are famous people (or at least noisy people). All out to stuff their version of Christianity down everyone's throats. So yes, many times we live double lives. I no more want to be associated with these idiots than with murderers and rapists, yet say that you are a Christian in many circles means that people shy away from you, or look at you with scorn, especially if I am with gay-friendly friends. Peace <3Jay

  • JoeBlow

    Jay, I think this is exactly what Paul is telling us to do. We should be ourselves, but we should stay true to our Christian values. There are fanatics in Christianity as there are in all religions and belief systems. However, I think if we try to be all things to all people to satisfy everyone, then we are not being true to God or to ourselves. We just have to keep the faith and believe that eventually other Christians will realize that God is a tolerant and loving God, not the God of hatred and bigotry that too many of the loudest voices of Christianity seem to worship. Hatred and bigotry are what fuel Satan.

  • fan of casey

    Joe: Being yourself, i.e., not self censoring yourself or not putting up a false front does have a qualifier — work often requires one to be on their best behavior and if you are not in a really accepting place or you suspect that the official openness is not really sincere, then it's best to hide your sexuality so as not to give your bosses a reason to restrict your advancement. Many big corporations/universities officially have a goal of encouraging diversity but if you work for a private company or small business, you are just taking too many chances exposing yourself to bias.As for the topic at hand — religion and being gay, I think you can be both if you approach religion as more a principles-based life than a rules-based life; focus on the underlying philosophy rather than seeing religious texts as simply a checklist of dos and don'ts. Too many religious people cherry pick to support their particular point of view and when you challenge them on their literal interpretation, they often excuse their own unacceptable behavior.

  • Coop

    Joe, I am also a Christian in all situations. Even if I don't always follow the teachings and dictates of imperfect men (that's all we have in the Catholic church) who may spend too much time on abstract questions and not enough time as a parish priest or in a shelter in Boston or working with the desperately poor in South America.How do I go about my life? What example do I set? I think the loudest Christians are usually the most hateful ones. I don't have the right to condemn anyone.

Thank you for commenting. I always want to know what you have to say. However, I have a few rules: 1. Always be kind and considerate to others. 2. Do not degrade other people's way of thinking. 3. I have the right to refuse or remove any comment I deem inappropriate. 4. If you comment on a post that was published over 14 days ago, it will not post immediately. Those comments are set for moderation. If it doesn't break the above rules, it will post.

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