Coming out is a term mostly used by the LGBTQI community to mean people’s self-disclosure of their sexual orientation or of their gender identity. When this happens, most of the time, the individual has to come out of the closet and embrace the ideology that this who they are which often involves marrying the lifestyle therein.
Sometime in my first year in Campus I met this young man who was happily pursuing his studies, he had no fears of being found out nor the agony of having to struggle through his feelings that were different from many of his peers simply because he had come out. He had embraced the fact that he was gay, and that was him. Though a Christian, he was not actively involved in the University christian Union unlike when he was in High school where he was actively part of the CU. I suppose that this was because of the fact that he was still “in the closet” in High school and with him coming out and now actively pursuing his gay lifestyle in campus, it kind of detered him from being part of the CU.
At the same time I had read about the story of Ray Boltz, a Christian song-writer and singer who is behind the song I pledge allegiance. At 55 years of age he finally decided to come out. During an interview he was quoted saying “I’d denied it ever since I was a kid. “I became a Christian, I thought that was the way to deal with this and I prayed hard and tried for 30-some years and then at the end, I was just going, ‘I’m still gay. I know I am.’ And I just got to the place where I couldn’t take it anymore — when I was going through all this darkness, I thought, ‘Just end this.’ ” And ooops! He came out.
What is it with coming out? How come those who choose not are seen as closeted and labelled cowards? Should a Christian Come out? And when it happens does one need to embrace a different theology than one which he has been taught overtime?
The dangers of being closeted
From the stories I have read or listened to, anyone who has come out as gay finally seems to be coming out of an air-tight box. A box in which we can say that the individual was suffocating in, and they would have died if they stayed in there any longer without taking a step to come out. . Is that it? May be.
Imagine living a life of secrecy and not being able to be open about someone’s key are of their life such as sexuality? This leads, as you would expect, to internal emotional turmoil because the individual is constantly having to wear a mask and be in public, someone they are not in private. You cannot share your struggles with anyone and only have God to talk to. When you go to Church, they will definitely talk about sexual struggles, but no one mentions your struggle. You hope to hear a testimony of someone who ever experienced what you are experiencing but none seems forthcoming. Once or twice your Pastor mentions something that is almost similar but totally different from what you are experiencing; the Story of Sodom and Gomorrah, he adds that those are perverts and their end is destruction. Though you do not want to rape someone or are actively pursuing your feelings, this is the most he has come near to touching on what you are feeling and loudly, with much sharpness you can hear the echo of the verdict in your ears- eternal fire! Eternal fire! You choose for the 10th time now to do a 7 day prayer and fasting, climaxing it with a deliverance service. That evening you head home happy, full of faith, it’s gone, am now free. Two days later you see this charming young man, your mind cannot help but think of him, you try to fight this thought with all that you have, unknowingly you start fantasizing about him. You cannot stomach this, was it not dealt with? Was I not freed? Or God has finally, ‘given up one me…..’
What’s the danger in this silence:-
• Shame– I am to blame for this and it would be such a mistake for my friends to know.
• Hopelessness– Failure to achieve the desired result. This may lead to a breakdown in other segments of one’s life e.g.. Studies.
• Self-loathing– This may lead to suicidal attempts or other addictions.
Benefits of Choosing to be known
I choose the term ‘being known’ simply because of the baggage that the term ‘coming out’ carries with it.
• You do not have to struggle alone any longer– It is said that the battles that the devil seems to win in our lives are those that we fight in isolation. No wonder he will try to ensure that you see your problem as your very own and that no one can help you. The very moment I told someone what I was struggling in, I felt much relieved, I was sure that now I was not an hypocrite and had someone to help me fight this. You will start thinking, after opening up, about how others are struggling through other things different or similar to yours and how together you can strengthen each other in the walk of chastity.
• You do not have to live in denial any longer. By this I mean, you are able to face what you are experiencing and ask yourself hard questions like:- what does it mean to be a Christian and experience this? What is the discipleship journey that I should be prepared to face in this path? And finally, what more about what I feel do I need to know and am I really defined by it? I have seen this helpful in my life especially when some friends come attacking me as one who is in denial. I quickly point them to the fact that I am not denying anything only that I have faced what I may feel inclined to but chosen a path that is in line with what I believe.
• You allow yourself to be loved and love others. This has been one of the most astonishing thing that happened, many would think that once they open up about this part of their lives to their friends, then they will be deserted and labelled all manner of labels. My experience has been different, I have experienced love, sincere love from friends. They have continued to interact with me freely, no negative judgement has been passed on to me and some are more open to sharing their deep seated struggles with me. I do not to claim this as the universal experience of everyone but I believe that God has a community in our lives through which, he is ready to show his love to us.
It is a personal decision to choose to be know. No one should be pressured to do this even if your friend is doing it. And while at it, have these in mind………
Do not think you know how people will react—certainly.
Do not think that you know why they are reacting as they are.
Do not think that everyone will respond in the same way.
Do not think that an individual’s first response will necessarily be their ongoing response.
And so yes, Christians can open up about their same sex experience, they can face these struggles without any sense of denial and they can stand true to the Sound Doctrine as God continues to work in them in their specific community.
What if I choose to be known, to whom and what’s the environment for this? Check out the next article…