Andyouinvitedmein’s Weblog

My Life–Part 2

Posted on: February 13, 2008

2d-copy.jpgMy maternal grandparents in the mid-1940’s

I’m still a proponent of conservative Christianity, and still consider myself a conservative. But in my first years of conservatism—okay, maybe a decade or two—I took conservative Christianity a bit too far. I never got caught up in a lot of emotionalism, and my most earnest commitments were made in private just between God and me. However somewhere along the way I got into wrong thinking. I was a conservative who turned into a legalist. I can’t exactly say how I got there, I only remember the moment when it all came into the light…

That moment came in late May of 1979 when I refused to go to a dinner party where a gay guy was also going to attend (I’ll call this guy George). I can remember standing with my garbage in one hand and telling my friend Karen that it was totally against all I believed to join them for dinner with George also in attendance…by the way, God has a wonderful sense of humor, and I was the joke: The next month I changed jobs. The night before I began someone said “You know George works there.”  And wouldn’t you know that in a building that covered about ten acres, George worked right across the hall!   

Then within a year a close friend came out–he was a professional, fellow church member with a wife and kids. And in no time there was another young man—“Jake”—who had been one of my students suddenly left the church. I tracked Jake down three states away and found out he was gay. Sadly, he has never come back home. 

So, of course, I heard God and immediately changed the way I thought and acted, and all was great….NOT! 

You’d think I’d learn when one thing after another was happening like dominoes collapsing, but I’m slow. Right now I want to go back to the first time I heard about someone being gay. Realize that in my childhood days you just didn’t speak about it. So for me to hear about a minister committing suicide because he was gay would have been huge. But hearing about it when I was a little over five years old in 1959, well that was another divine moment in this journey. 

As I said earlier, I was the conservative of the Conservatives. And soon after this boom-boom-boom of learning about all my gay friends, AIDS came on the scene. I can remember standing in my living room and hearing a guy on the Today Show cry about losing 25 of his friends to the virus. I sort of snickered about his losses—totally lacking Christian love. Then after a move to a large city a couple of years later I grew to believe that AIDS was incurable and that anyone who had it deserved it.  

It wasn’t until 1992 that I got a huge wake-up call about the Church and my conservative fellows. When our landlord was dying of AIDS and doing “everything right” according to conservative church standards…the church failed to show up. What a shock for me! How could this be? I have always believed (and still do) that the church needs to be more than God’s talking head. They also need to be His arms, hands, legs and feet. They should be the first with soup as well as prayer. When the pastors and members didn’t deliver to our landlord, I was emotionally numbed, trying to absorb what had just gone down in my ‘hood.   And this was the divine moment where God had me ready to listen. A place where I could begin to learn about the true meaning of grace…. More to come about how And You Invited Me In got on the shelves and into your hands.

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