Wish Me Away

Wish Me Away is Chely Wright’s powerful story about coming out while being a major country music star. It’s sometimes hard to watch someone coming to terms with who they are, knowing that they could be hated for it. The strength that Chely Wright has in sharing who she is – merely to help others – is amazing.

Of course, the film touches on themes of Christianity and the conservative culture that makes up country music fandom. Chely is a Christian, and someone close to her reminds her:

There’s nobody quite as mean as people being mean for Jesus.

So disappointing, and so true.

I’m glad that the film focused on the positive aspects of her journey, while showing her internal struggle with wanting to share who she is with the world.

A quote from her brother-in-law, I think, really shows where many Christians minds are on the subject. Many people only know what they have been told by someone else. Many people are relying on other people’s opinions to express their faith. He says,

Being gay is a sinful act.

This, of course, doesn’t make sense – and I believe that’s the issue with how many Christians see homosexuality. They haven’t thought about it enough for any logic to come into the picture. To suggest that “who somebody is” is a “sinful act” just shows the ignorance of the culture. I think it’s just a demonization of a people that many Christians don’t want to understand. As soon as we start to looking at the LGBT community as real people – and not just as a faceless crowd – we might have to see the humanity. And love might have to enter into the picture. And I think that’s what Christians are scared of.

Must-Read: Torn by Justin Lee

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In a Gays-vs.-Christians world, admitting you’re gay makes you the enemy of Christians.

Sadly, with this single sentence, Justin Lee sums up one of the biggest issues in Western Christianity today. Or maybe the biggest. It’s extremely unfortunate (or maybe criminal is a better word), that we’ve allowed two or three misread passages to completely overshadow God’s message of love in the Bible.

Torn is a must-read for anyone wanting to understand better what’s holding back the love and compassion of Christians for the LGBT world. It’s a good read for anyone: Christian, non-Christian, gay, straight. (Caveat: I say this as a straight Christian, but I’m trusting Lee’s experience to overcome that, since this book is about him and his experiences.) I would recommend this to anyone not wanting to keep their head in the sand from such an important discussion.

This is something the whole Christian community needs to be thinking about. If you don’t personally know anyone who’s gay, you’re probably wrong in that assumption. You just don’t realize it. This is something that will impact each and every one of us, probably sooner than we expect. There is a lot of history to overcome – a lot of hate, a lot of misunderstanding. The sooner that we begin to understand, the sooner we can begin reconciliation.

In a Venn diagram, Gays and Christians aren’t mutually exclusive – in fact, there’s much more overlap than most people would imagine. Justin Lee enlightens us to that fact, and helps us understand how we need more compassion, more dialogue. This book is a simple read – it’s accessible to anyone, and I think important for Christians, simply because his statement is so true:

I believe our goal should be truth, not ideology, and that we must have the humility to admit that we still don’t have all the answers.

We would be better Christians in all aspects of our lives if we could admit this.

Justin Lee does a great job in discussing ex-gay movements and explaining how they might be able to help you change behavior (if that’s what you want) but they cannot change the fact that you’re gay. In fact, he cites many of the founders of the movement (and ex-gay poster children) and describes how they’ve returned to previous gay lifestyles. Reparative therapy doesn’t work. Focus on the Family lied to you. His words are better than mine:

Focus [on the Family] then sent me a pack of resources promoting the same ex-gay groups I already knew didn’t work, featuring testimonies from many of the same people I already knew weren’t really straight.

Of course, this book is going to be controversial to conservative Christians because it’s not anti-gay. Lifeway won’t even carry it (I guess I shouldn’t be surprised). On the other side, it may also be controversial to some on the LGBT side, because Justin Lee is tolerant of those gay Christians who believe the Bible teaches that they need to remain celibate (even though he does not subscribe to that). He wants more than anything for everyone to come together with a discussion of love, so that we can all understand each other – and replace the long-standing hate with compassion.

Read this book. If you’re a Christian, read it to overcome your LGBT prejudices. If you’re LGBT, read it to understand that the truth is that Christians shouldn’t be fighting this war they have been fighting, and to understand the love and compassion we should be having.

Side note: I “won” a prize in our local library’s 2012 reading contest. I got to pick one book to be added to to the library. I felt like this was important enough to add. So if you live in the Huntsville area, you can literally “check this out” at the Huntsville library.

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