A Journey In Faith

by Rev. Andrew A. Barasda, Jr.
University of Pennsylvania
Published in The Daily Pennsylvanian, B-GLAD '98, March 18, 1998
Copyright 1998 Rev. Andrew Barasda

When I was growing up, the world was quite a different place. I'm talking about the Fifties; when father knew best, Korea was a household word, Ike was president, and America was always right. Exclusion from the mainstream was considered a just penalty for those who questioned God's existence, challenged male dominance, debunked white privilege, rejected militarism, or approved of homosexuality. Any one who espoused these causes was branded an atheist, wimp, minority-lover, communist, or queer. Many citizens of this era were God-fearing, Bible- quoting, apple-pie Americans. They tightly wrapped their religious beliefs in the brightly-colored paper of capitalism.

I, however, grew up questioning everything, often to my parents' embarrassment. I knew I was different from other boys. Viewed the world with compassion, empathized with the oppressed, and chose collaboration over competition. It was painful being "different." I felt all alone. The role models I had inherited -- John Wayne, Joe McCarthy, Bishop Sheen -- didn't fit me at all. I sought refuge in acting because theater had historically welcomed the misfits. I also became involved with a church that proclaimed God's love for everyone, even fairies like me. Being gay and a Christian has been difficult at times. Even though my mind quickly accepted that I was queer, it took longer for my heart to finally accept God's love.

The battle between God and my sexual orientation has finally ended.

Despite the condemnation from some Christians, I firmly reject their interpretation of scripture and definition of what it means to be a disciple. I believe their God is too small. Nowhere do the Gospels condemn homosexuality; it's not even mentioned once. What is condemned, however, are the idols some people worship: self- righteousness, arrogance, greed, indifference, power, wealth, and prestige. I rarely hear these same Christians denouncing those sins. They think their faith in God is compatible with the worship of society's gods. Their conformity to the culture has left many of them emotionally high and economically well-off, but spiritually weak.

Bishop John Shelby Spong wrote, "Prejudice erects walls that enclose us in a feeling of security. God beckons us out of our confining lives to a place where we are able to grow into more sensitive and open people, people capable of reflecting the infinite inclusiveness of the God whose invitation is not selective." (Living in Sin? A Bishop Rethinks Human Sexuality, p. 37) I believe being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered is something to be celebrated. We are bringing new vision and fresh hope to the world by helping people accept who they are in order to accept one another. I know we are loved by a merciful God, even when we're not ready for the romance. I believe being gay is a great gift from God and hope you believe it as well. It's very clear none of us is in Kansas anymore!

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