STORY ARCS: Coming Full Circle in 2012, Part I

The happiest day of my life, up to now. (Photo: Oral Roberts University)

The happiest day of my life, up to now anyway. (Photo: ORU Facebook Page)

Two years ago, I was in a phase not terribly different from where I am now. I was at home, it was a few days after Christmas, and I had just laid down for sleep when a jolt of excitement shot through my body, beginning at the top of my spine and ending at the soles of my feet. See, I was inching closer and closer, one day at a time, to the day when I would leave on jet plane to a faraway city to begin a new adventure. Okay, granted, it was a less-faraway city and a much shorter adventure, one that had a very different outcome (hopefully) than the one I prepare for now. Just bear with me.

Seeing as how this post is coming mere days before the beginning of a new year, I suppose it’s convenient to make it a “year in review” sort of thing, but, just to be clear, I don’t feel obligated to constrain life’s arcs to an arbitrary unit of time. This particular post picks up primarily in late 2010. Even with my hesitance to impose a narrative structure onto life’s chaotic happenstance, I can comfortably say that the current arc of “my story” began then and with what one might conservatively call a “series of unfortunate events.” (Incidentally, my sole New Year’s resolution is to reach a point of comfort saying “my story” outside quotations.) But first, a bit of back story to get us rolling. After all, the beginning of one arc in a story is quite often the end of another.

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A Fight the Church is Forfeiting

Bear in mind, I’m a student chaplain at a very conservative Christian university, so there’s potential I could face repercussions for the words I’m about to write. I’ve nevertheless come to the liberating understanding that purity in devotion to right-wing Christian political doctrine is NOT a prerequisite to loving the Lord, so, frankly, I’m not particularly concerned about it.

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was finally done away with last week in the United States Armed Forces. Conservative and Christian groups across the country fought a long battle to see the policy remain in place based on a wide variety of arguments. None of them, I feel, had much basis in fact. Any policy, law, or rule that requires people to hide who they really are is one I firmly oppose.

On another note, this is not a new video, but it’s one I didn’t see until tonight.

While people like Joel Burns, Dan Savage, and even President Obama attempt to reach out to gay teens across the country with a message of hope and encouragement, the Church sits by on the sidelines, either too afraid or too indecisive to speak a very Christian message of healing for the broken-hearted, and acceptance for the outcasts. Yes, I’m aware of what the Bible says about homosexuality so please do not comment on this post with nothing more than Scriptures telling me how wrong it is; trust me, we ALL know. That’s not what’s at issue here.

The issue is that some elements within the Church have made Christ’s message of hope, reconciliation, acceptance, and comfort contingent on people not being engaged in certain sins. That’s wrong and the community of believers is going to have to reorient its approach to this issue to avoid rendering itself completely incapable of relating to this group of people.

I’m not asking you to change your opinion on homosexuality; I’m asking you, if only for a moment, to see past the homosexuality and see the human being–one who is often longing for acceptance and comfort.

On a final note, also in the series of “It Gets Better” videos is one from the grandson of the founder of my university. Just watch it: