What are S.A.F.E. meetings?

Many of you may already know this, but LOVEboldly hosts S.A.F.E. (Sexuality & Faith Engagements) the first Monday of every month. Often, I have been asked about the purpose of these gatherings and why they matter. So, here is the answer:

First of all, we can’t take the credit for the idea of hosting these meetings. The Marin Foundation began them (called Living in Tension Gatherings) several years ago in Chicago. The idea comes from a line in Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail: “But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word ‘tension.’ I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth.”

As you can see for yourself, our world is polarized when it comes to the topic of homosexuality. Both sides of the issue are guilty of talking past each other rather than dialoging with one another. As a result, each side demonizes ‘the other’ and the divide deepens, resulting in abusive language and behavior towards those with whom we disagree.

At LOVEboldly, we are persuaded that agreement with one another’s political, theological, moral, or philosophical perspectives is not essential for restoring dignity and communicating with kindness and respect. We want to bring all types of people (non-Christian LGBTs, LGBT Christians, celibates, ex-gays, liberal and conservative straight Christians, straight non-Christians, etc.) together to willfully enter into a place of constructive tension, and seek to intentionally form a community that peacefully and productively takes on the most divisive topics of faith and sexuality.

The goal of our gatherings is not for people to convince others that they are right and ‘the other’ is wrong, but rather work off of a worldview enhancement model. We want to provide a place where people can feel safe to not only share their experiences and beliefs with ‘the other’ but also learn to excel in constructive tension with those they disagree. We seek to make it an active engagement in learning what relationship with ‘the other’ tangibly looks like.

If you live or are visiting the Lexington area, we would love to see you at one of our gatherings. Remember, they are held on the first Monday of each month, beginning at 7:00 pm. Please feel free to email us at loveboldlynow@gmail.com for more information.

Why So Proud Matt?

Our fourth post in our “Hey Gays, Why So Proud?” series is brought to you by Matt Demarest.  This is Matt:

Matt’s a preacher’s kid, so he’s been around the block when it comes to understanding the tension between the LGBT community and the church and he desperately desires to be part of the solution.  My friendship with Matt is, in my opinion, the result of a divine coincidence which culminated in an instant bond formed over Waffle House food at midnight.  I doubt either of us could ever have imagined that night would result in our keeping in touch via Skype, email, and Facebook over the past two years, but I’m so thankful it has.  Matt’s love for the Lord, his fellow believers, and his desire to see Christ’s freedom experienced by all emanates from him and we’ve had many a soulful conversation about how to fix the brokenness we see around us.

We asked Matt, “What does Gay Pride mean to you?”  And he said this:

For me gay pride is not an event, or a parade; rather, it  often a long journey, that LGBT people must make. For me, there was a day when I decided to be proud of who I am. I mean proud in the sense that I am a good person, with integrity, who can walk tall knowing I am exactly who I am supposed to be. Gay pride, believe it or not, is not only a parade to LGBT people, but a time for us to stand up and share our pride in who we are. It is a time to remind others and ourselves that we are not broken,  needing to be fixed. We are proud to stand together to be who we are as individuals and a community.

We display our passion, because our journey was sometimes rough. We are proud to be alive, because many did not make it through the journey. We also use this as a chance to remember those who have stuck with us through our coming out, and to honor  our gay elders for taking a stand so our voices can be heard even louder in this generation. Most of all we are proud to be a part of a chosen family with our community.

If it were not for this family many of us would not have a family to stick buy us and accept us. Many LGBT people are single and have no children and many feel alone in their journey, so we get to accept welcome each other, sharing our collective wisdom. I am proud of our chosen “family” we did not have the luxury of choosing to be gay, but we sure do have the option of choosing our brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, matriarchs, friends, and our partners. I am also gratefully proud of my straight friends who chose not to be ashamed of being  friends with a gay person, even if that meant they got ridiculed or questioned themselves. It is a fact that it will take both groups to help repair   the damages of the past.

Finally, what gay pride means to me is that I am proud to be a Christian and a child of God. I would not deny being a child of God to the gay community nor deny that I am gay to the Christian community. I am proud to come as I am, just like God asked us to. I am not proud of how we are treated, but I am proud of those who are taking on the responsibility of loving our persecutors even though they may not know how to love us back yet…. yet that is…  LOVEboldly family, I am proud of YOU  for being part of our community.

Got a response to Matt?  Leave it below.  I’m sure he’d love to respond!

Why So Proud Elijah?

Our third post in our “Hey Gays, Why So Proud?” series is brought to you by Elijah McKnight, of Marion, Indiana.  This is Elijah:

Elijah is working on beginning a LGBT Christian/Conversational/Committed to Action group within his local area that will be focused on the following:

  1. Facilitating Fruitful Discussions – This group will be a safe place for conversations, lectures, debates, and learning opportunities.
  2. Fostering True Discipleship – This group will be committed to passing on the ancient, sound message of the Gospel and what it means to truly follow Christ.
  3. Faithfully Making a Difference – This group will make sincere attempts to stand up for justice, mercy and compassion in the community.

We asked Elijah, “What does Gay Pride mean to you?”  And he said this:

At first glance towards these two words, I was not so much concerned with the word “gay” as I was with the word “pride.” I think this word needs to be carefully defined, because we are are surrounded by a culture that prides itself in self-interest. This is the greatest disease of the soul. In a self-interest sense, pride is the chief of all vices.

As a man who has a same-sex orientation, I also know that self-hate is very damaging. The gay Christian needs to be cautious with both vices – pride and self-hate.  The God of Love is ever seeking us, pursuing us even in the midst of our journey of working out sexuality. God truly loves boldly, because love covers a multitude of sins, including prideful self-interest.  He teaches us to take pride in the only true thing worth prizing and that is the Cross.  It is through the Cross that the bad kind of pride is killed and we are made alive.  When I think of Gay Pride, I think on the amazing love of God who is willing to take my brokenness, past hurts, wounds, and make me whole.  Gay pride to me means that I am working out my salvation as well as my sexuality with fear and trembling, with respect for both dangers (self-servitude and self-loathing). Why?  Because the God has loved boldly.

Got a response to Elijah?  Leave it below.  I’m sure he’d love to respond!