Being Gay at Bethel: Revisited

Being Gay at Bethel: Revisited

Here’s a piece I wrote back in the spring about some good changes and things I see happening back at my alma mater (that sounds weird to say…).

Bethel is one of my favorite places, and I’m thankful for the ways God is moving there, especially in the sense that LGBTQ students are starting to feel safer and that the atmosphere is shifting for the better. Hopefully, this is just the beginning.

Editor’s Note: The following article is a reflection on discussion prompted by the piece, “Being Gay at Bethel,” published May 2015 in the Clarion. Because the article was published in the last month of the year, the Bethel community had no opportunity to discuss and respond to the article, and many in our community left Bethel with more questions than answers regarding Bethel’s policies and attitudes towards the LGBTQ community. In publishing this article, we hope to inspire further conversation. In the first chapel of the year, biblical studies professor Juan Hernandez Jr. challenged the Bethel community to speak up for the poor, the captives, the blind, and the oppressed, imitating Christ in this way. At the Clarion, we strive to speak up on issues that matter most to the Bethel community. Venegas, a junior linguistics major at the time “Being Gay at Bethel” was published, has since graduated and now works at Cyber Village Academy as an office administrator.

There’s…

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how I finally learned what love is

The air was cool for Minnesota summer, and a fire crackled and snapped over wet logs in the fire pit in front of me. I was about to tell a story I had only told once before, and I couldn’t shake the feeling that the words still felt almost fake as they churned inside of me, bringing a new sensation of reality to the term word vomit. It just didn’t feel right. In a way, it felt selfish, what I was about to do. At a cursory glance, everything about my life seemed to be just as it should, if not better, but I was about to confess that for the majority of my life I had felt like I had to earn love and wasn’t quite sure what it actually meant to be loved.

 

I mean, honestly, I’m 19 years old, have a college diploma hanging on my bedroom wall, my family is great to me and always has been, my friends are some of the best you could ask for, and I have everything I need, among other things, but I couldn’t escape the voice of God trying to convince me, for the umpteenth time in however many years, that there was no possible way for anyone to ever earn someone else’s love. But along with that, He also seemed to whisper that the reason was that you didn’t have to. His love, as well as anyone else’s authentic love, doesn’t need to be earned. That seems like such a simple, basic concept, but it’s one I’m honestly still processing and learning to be true.

 

Continue reading “how I finally learned what love is”

when grace puts you at stalemate

Amidst all of the culture wars that our world and society are currently embroiled in, it goes without saying that there’s always room for more grace, and I believe that’s true. If you’ve ever read any books or articles about conflict resolution, they will usually tell you that the blame for a problem can very rarely be 100% attributed to one party. In most cases, both or all parties have contributed at least a little bit to the overarching problem, regardless of whether that split is revealed to be 97% one party’s fault and only 3% the other party’s fault. That’s a pretty significant split, and that doesn’t mean that the one guilty party hasn’t done something wrong. In simple terms, most conflicts usually involve one party who was wronged and another party that committed the wrong, but what this conflict resolution strategy does is to point out that in any given conflict, there were often factors on both or all sides that were key to the situation unfolding the way that it did. And this is the perspective of grace with which I try to approach the raging controversial debates, but so often, it feels like maintaining a posture of grace is getting you nowhere, which very quickly becomes exhausting. Continue reading “when grace puts you at stalemate”

the fingerprints of God on a “secular” society

the fingerprints of God on a “secular” society

Tonight when I go to bed, we will have already spent 12 amazing days in the beautiful country of España, meaning that we’re already more than 10% done with our 105 total days on Spain Term (I know it’s not exactly 100 days like the hashtag, but hey)! Isn’t that crazy? It feels like there’s no way that we’ve been here this long, but at the same time, it feels like we’ve already been here for a month. And that makes absolutely no sense, but I’m sure everyone has experienced that sensation at one point in life or another.

Recap:

Anyway, for this update, I want to talk a little about finding Jesus in the little things around you and appreciating the fact everyone single one of the 7 billion people on this planet was made in the image of God. It’s just something that I’ve been thinking about for a day or two. But first! Update! Continue reading “the fingerprints of God on a “secular” society”

Christian Priorities as of May 27, 2015

A better, less angry post will follow, but this is what I have to say regarding all the stories that have come out in the past couple weeks, namely, the recent events surrounding the Duggar Family and The Village Church.

I’m straight up pissed about it, and most people will tell you that I don’t get angry very often.

First of all, who ever said that criticizing the church or church leadership is tantamount to attacking it? That’s ridiculous. The church is an imperfect institution run by imperfect people. There are going to be missteps and there will need to be people who point out those missteps. It’s not un-glorifying to God when people have the guts to do it. They’re not creating tension or division in the church. They’re saying what the heck needs to be said.

Second, someone tell me since when Christians are allowed to be above the law. I don’t care who you are. You could be John Calvin or Charles Spurgeon or C.S. Lewis. If you commit a serious crime, you should be going to prison. The church has no business running damage control or PR for people just because they are a little higher profile than the rest of us. That’s nowhere in the Bible.

Third, along the same lines, grace and repentance do not eliminate the consequences of your actions. Grace should be extended where there is repentance and even when there is not, but that doesn’t magically dissolve the consequences of your actions. Actions. Have. Consequences.

Finally, and this one is a little more personal. Someone better be able to tell me why, in the United States of America, we have situations in which churches are protecting child molesters and child porn addicts while there are LGBT Christians committing suicide because they feel unloved and worthless and have internalized a message from the church that they are dirtier and more sinful than everyone else. Someone give me a valid explanation to this, stat. How is that glorifying to God? How is that reflecting Jesus?

This is unacceptable, disgusting, and makes me sick.

But evidently, these are Christian priorities as of May 27, 2015, a time when we prioritize the well-being of people who are in sticky situations, as a result of their own actions, and defend them when there are far bigger problems in the world.

I mean, someone give me a halfway decent reason that child porn is any different than sex trafficking, seeing as most of those girls are only children.

This is part of the reason that young people (myself included) are growing increasingly skeptical of the formal church. Because it seems to be more interested in outward appearances and damage control than actual people.

After all, it hurts when child porn users are granted asylum in the church while people like us are given an ultimatum. Because it implies that we’re beneath even that. Where’s our grace? Where’s our unconditional acceptance?

And people wonder why we’re on our way out.

making sense of the seemingly insensible (on same-sex relationships)

This post will conclude what is, in my mind, a three part series on what I believe about and what God has been teaching me about celibacy and relationships in regards to LGBT Christians. Of course, that doesn’t mean that I’m done talking about those things. I just feel like all three of these posts are intricately tied together, which is why I’ll link to them here as well in case you haven’t read them.

Part One: when the church talks about celibacy

Part Two: what celibacy really means (for same-sex relationships)

So take a look at those two posts if you haven’t read them yet. Hopefully you’ll see that they all sort of flow together.

Finally, one last thing before I get started on this post. Don’t forget that at the bottom of every page on this blog there’s a button you can press to subscribe via email. That way, you’ll get an email every time I post something new. So go and do that if you care to follow along with what I’m writing. I always love to connect with new people, share thoughts, and see what they have to say. Continue reading “making sense of the seemingly insensible (on same-sex relationships)”

Again, I just want to thank everyone who visited this blog yesterday for being so overwhelmingly supportive and wonderful. It really means so much more than you think, and I appreciate it so much. God has been so good, and everyone has been really awesome.

That being said, I also received a minor flood of messages and things like that yesterday filled with support and also questions. I may have forgotten to mention that I absolutely love hearing your thoughts and your questions. If there’s anything specific that anyone would want me to talk about, look into, or address, please, please, please feel free to message me, text me, email me, whatever you want.

The whole point of this blog is so that I can share what God has been teaching me, and if you can help God teach me more by asking me hard questions, I’d absolutely love that. As I said in my last short post, everything I write here is for His honor. So, if there are questions, please ask them. I’d love to address them here for the benefit of everyone.

Jesus loves you ❤

for the honor…

Today has been a really crazy day. I went public with this blog for the first time in three months, which is just insanity for me. I don’t think people realized how unnerved I was and anxious for what the response would be (it was fantastic; all of you have been wonderful, and I’m so thankful for that). At the same time, the Lord gently nudged my spirit and reminded me to keep my eyes on Him and that this isn’t about me or the words that I’ve written.

So, in this really short post, I just want to thank everyone who has been really supportive of everything and also reiterate that none of this is my own doing. Everything that’s written here, everything that has happened, every response has been by the grace and blessing of the Father. It’s unreal. And trust me, nothing of what I’ve written here was by my own wisdom. I’m just a clueless human. Anything that anyone resonates with, anything that impacts any of you, it’s all God. It’s all Him. These are just things that He’s been so kindly and patiently teaching me over the past few months. All the glory is His. All of it.

And it’s been incredible. It really has. God has been so good in revealing His plan and His word to me, and I can honestly say that I’ve never felt closer to Him or stronger in my faith than right now. He is an amazing God. Don’t ever forget.

Also, listen to this song, because I basically want this song to define my life and everything that I write here.

Jesus loves you. If you ever find yourself doubting that, please come talk to me. He loves you more than you could possibly imagine.