From: A Broken Heart To: A Broken Church

It was Sunday. I could smell the spam and eggs in the kitchen, my mom and dad were laughing over a cup of coffee, and I could hear Nicole C. Mullen’s “You’re the music of my heart” on repeat in the living room. I woke up with a huge smile on my face, it was Sunday! Sunday was my favorite day of the week. After a morning of breakfast and getting ready off we went, one big happy family ready for a day of church. Church is an all day event when you’re the child of a children’s pastor; an event that I loved. I loved the church. Loved.

Unfortunately saying the words “I love the church” isn’t an easy thing for me to do now days. Just the other day a friend asked me, “Jordon, how are things going with the church?”. I paused. I mean, I get this question a lot. Usually I have some profound thing to say, but for just a second I kind of stumbled over my words. I love Jesus and things in regards to my  relationship with God are going great, but the church… it’s hard. I go to church, but I am not sure if I really belong, I am welcomed, but not really accepted, a congregant, but not really a member. I mean if it were Facebook my relationship with the church would be open and complicated; unfortunately, I don’t think that’s what either of us really want.

Queer Christians all over the world feel this way. I’ve met several queer folks who have just given up on it all together, and I don’t blame them, I often think about giving up too. It gets old, hearing that we can’t serve or fully be engaged in the church because of our lifestyle. Why is that hard? Because our lifestyle isn’t any different from the hetero peers that we sit next to and do life with. It’s not easy to get told you can’t go on a mission trip, but if you really want to serve, you can clean the vans that are used and return them to the rental facility. Because God forbid we let a queer person serve in a super visible way, then our members would know, and question our convictions. Here’s the deal, your convictions are between you and God, and not for anyone else to question. We should all be working out our faith, with fear and trembling, discerning how God want’s us to live (Philippians 2:12). Queer members of the church aren’t second class citizens, and honestly we have a lot to offer.

When it comes to me serving in ministry, so often the question comes down to: “What do you believe about same sex sex?”. Is that really what’s important? Church, I understand that you, with all your hetero privilege, have read some books, said some prayers, and come to a conclusion about this stuff. You should also understand, that for a queer Christians it’s just not that easy. The conclusions we make surrounding theology about same sex sex and marriage, are a much bigger deal to us. So asking me “what I believe about same sex sex” is extremely personal, invasive, and even pressuring. So many queer Christians simply don’t really know and are trying to figure it out.

The questions should really be “Does the fruit of this person’s life, reflect the fruit of the spirit? Is this person loving God and loving people with all that they have? Is this person’s allegiance to Christ and Christ alone?”. These are the essentials.

The homosexuality topic is huge in the church right now. As churches write and rewrite statements about LGBT+ involvement, service, and membership in their church communities, I pray for wisdom. Making a fully inclusive move as a church is critical. That doesn’t mean that everyone has to have the same exact theology regarding homosexuality, but it does mean that everyone has to have an equal opportunity to serve and be involved in church life. Queer congregants and lay members should be given space to exercise their gifts within the church. Let us sing, guest preach, give announcements, run small groups, volunteer for kids church. We want a church family too. This might make people uncomfortable, but if you choose something less than this, the church will continue to make queer folks feel unloved. When I look at Jesus’ ministry, he often made people uncomfortable, and never made people feel unloved.

Church, if your statement of exclusion rings louder than your statement of love, then your words are empty, and you will always be limited to the amount of people you can reach. I dream of one day having a family. I would love for my child to wake up with a smile on their face every Sunday morning, hearing their dad’s laughing over a cup of coffee, and excited to go to church. Until that day, I press on – relentlessly.

Peace and blessings,

Jordon

 

From: A Broken Heart To: A Broken Church

MythBusters: The Homosexual Lifestyle

I remember being at a youth conference in the seventh grade and the speaker making a reference to the “Homosexual Lifestyle.” The comment, which did absolutely nothing for the overall purpose of his sermon, sounded something like, “These people believe they have to live out a homosexual lifestyle that is perverted, dangerous, and sinful – and they just don’t know they’re believing a lie”. Growing up in a charismatic evangelical church, this type of rhetoric was dropped into many sermons, in many different settings. For me – a closeted, gay, scared prepubescent boy, everything seemed pretty clear. If I admitted to myself and the world I am gay, I would be committing to this “lifestyle” that was basically a fast track to hell.

As I got older I realized that this wasn’t just a concept that existed within the church. I hear people outside the church ask similar questions.”Why are gay people so promiscuous?” “ Do you have any crazy sex stories now that you’re… Gay?” “Is it true that the homosexual lifestyle is just full of sex, drugs, and aids?”

To the church and anyone else who is curious –  it’s not our lifestyle, it’s just our lives. From what I can see, it’s not too different from any of yours.

How about we just take a second and normalize a few things. The LGBT community is not the only community with individuals that are a little wild. Just visit any college campus. Really take a second and get to know your hetero peers and let them tell you all about their threesomes and drug addictions. Most of my friends are straight and in their twenties looking forward to a night at the bar that will end with at least one or two girls in their bed. Or maybe sit in a locker room with our new president, and talk about just “grabbin em by the pussy”. Church, take a deeper look into our youth group student leaders just to find that the two “Golden leaders” are sleeping together, and the girl thinks she’s pregnant. Sit in a worship service just to find out that the leader is sleeping with his girlfriend, and he doesn’t really feel that guilty about it.

I’m not shaming anyone, and I’m not saying any of these things are wrong or right for that matter, I’m just saying they happen, and they happen everywhere. People are out there trying to live life the best way they know how. Sometimes making really good choices, and sometimes making not so good choices. People – gay, straight, trans, Christian, Muslim, man, woman, and everything else, we’re all more similar than we want to admit. All of us are broken, often insecure, and longing to be loved.  

By saying that all the gays live a “lifestyle”  you are perpetuating systems of us and them; but as a society it would be nice to perpetuate systems of we. By grouping every LGBT member on the face of the planet into one category, and calling it a lifestyle, you are assuming you know how someone shines, before you even see their light. It’s not fair, it’s not right, and it needs to stop.

Gay people are a lot like you. Some want to be married, some want to party hard, some want to love deeply, some are scared of love, some are lawyers, actors, doctors, and entrepreneurs, and some are cooks, chefs, college dropouts, and waiters. Some are Christian, Muslim, and Buddhist, and some are atheist, and agnostic. They all live life a little differently, and they all deserve love and acceptance. Can we all just agree this whole “homosexual lifestyle” thing is bullshit. I mean I get it, the LGBT community has a lot of style, but a life in style, is not a lifestyle.

Peace and Blessing,

Jordon Friend

MythBusters: The Homosexual Lifestyle

Why Do We Have To Say Goodbye

I’ve never been good at goodbyes. Sometimes I just try to avoid them all together. Running away from that tissue filled, heart pounding, tear flowing, snot running moment that is “goodbye”. I know, so dramatic. NEWSFLASH: I’m dramatic. If you’re like me that last hug is always a little more bitter than sweet, and while I get they are just a part of life, goodbyes are the worst. 

The word goodbye might be one of my least favorite words, but its often preceded by two of my favorite words- Thank You. Alaska, I have so much to thank you for.

Thank you for nights that never ended. Thank you for introducing me to amazing creatures and animals. Thank you for being a space where I was able to discern, think, find peace, and heal. Thank you for moments I will never forget, and some I will never remember. Thank you for teaching me that sometimes slowing down, going on a hike, taking in the beauty, and listening to nature can be the best therapy. Thank you for 30 amazing Instagram post. Thank you to the small, but fabulous gay community that I will miss dearly. Actually, thank you for teaching me that queers need a queer community. Thank you to the tap house, for being a place where I can both write this blog on a Sunday, and get turnt on a Friday. Thank you to my roommates for always supporting me, and constantly making me better. Most of all, thank you for bringing me and my cousin closer than we’ve ever been before. Hailey, you’re wonderful, you challenge me, and you are one hell of a good time. I will miss you.

I always say I’m bad at goodbyes because I’m so emotional. Maybe goodbyes are actually just evidence that I’ve allowed folks and places to touch me deeply. Maybe goodbyes are just proof that I let my self and people love in an honest and vulnerable way. Maybe I should stop running away from goodbyes, because goodbyes, like most things, are both broken and beautiful all at the same time, and for that I’m grateful. So Alaska, until next time. Thank you, and goodbye.

Peace and Blessings,

Jordon Friend

Why Do We Have To Say Goodbye

The Church is building a wall and the Gays are paying for it

My response to the Intervarsity purge of gay marriage supporters

A few weeks ago my mentor and I were talking about a new poll that said 54% of evangelicals in America are supportive of gay marriage. Part of me didn’t believe it because as a gay person involved in the church it doesn’t always feel that way. But part of me felt hopeful because maybe we were finally starting to make some headway. That hope didn’t last too long, and reality sank in, when one of the largest college Christian fellowships in the nation (Intervarsity) released a statement asking all the leaders within their organizations that supported gay marriage to resign.

Last Thursday I was finishing up at work and getting ready for volleyball when I read the article. My stomach was twisting, and my eyes were watering as I reverted back to the little boy at the alter at the age of 15, wanting so badly to be like my hetero peers. My mind started racing as I began to think of all the young queers I’ve met during my time doing ministry in Davis, and all the wonderful LGBT+ college age individuals I’ve met online through the Gay Christian Network. Surely being a queer person involved in this fellowship was already difficult, I imagine now it feels impossible.

While young heterosexual Christians in this organization get the privilege of wrestling with scripture, and living in a community where they can voice opinions, doubts, and ask questions freely; queer Christians in this organization have been slapped with a big fat “YOU’RE WRONG. THERE IS ONLY ONE WAY. AND IF YOU DON’T AGREE, LEAVE”.

Maybe that seems harsh. But I think it’s important that the intervarsity staff knows exactly what this statement feels like for us. Intervarsity, an organization lead by leaders coming from a range of different denominations, backgrounds, and life experiences who likely disagree and have diverse opinions on many theological topics has decided: “We can disagree on a lot, we can discuss and discern about many things as a community, but when it comes to human sexuality, we will unite.” By putting an end to this conversation at the leadership level, intervarsity is undoubtedly putting an end to this conversation in the pew; thus making all its queer students and their allies uncomfortable, and/or unwelcome. If you don’t think that’s true, you’re kidding yourself.

To my beloved young queer adults on campuses across the nation – stay bold, be relentless in the pursuit of righteousness, justice, and love. Press deeply into conversation, stay humble, and lean into God and your queer community. Be the change in the church that you want to see, because God has called you. Realize that there is good. I will be the first to admit at times I lose hope and want to give up. Changing the beast from the inside of its stomach is a daunting task, and indigestion is no joke, but push through. Every one doesn’t have to agree, but we should be able to love each other, and serve together.

To the intervarsity staff and the church as a whole – when it comes to the topic of human sexuality and the church, you have an opportunity to build bridges. Bridges constructed with grace, love, vulnerability, and compassion. Bridges that lead people into the all-enveloping, everlasting, life changing presence of a God who is so glorious. This past week intervarsity did exactly the opposite of that. This past week intervarsity was just another example of the church building a wall. A wall that divides the “righteous” and the “sinner”, the hetero and the homo. A wall comprised of evangelical heteronormative misunderstanding and mixed together with queer pain, fear, and distrust. A wall purchased with the currency of LGBT tears, sorrow, depression, suicide, and heartache. The church has too often been caught up in business of building this wall, and the gays are paying for it. My prayer is that intervarsity, and the church as a whole, will commit to being bridge builders with the LGBT+ community. I pray that we can cling onto enough hope to see it happen.

Peace and Blessings,

Jordon Friend

 

The Church is building a wall and the Gays are paying for it

Sex, Love, and a 401K

I remember being a kid and thinking I was going to have everything figured out by the time I was 25; how naive of me. To be honest, how naive of all of us. I have a whole lot of friends in their twenties and we call ourselves young professionals, but we’re really just professional snapchat users.

I’m 24 years deep into this adventure we call life and I think I’ve hit my quarter life crisis. Actually I think it hit me, like the giant yellow school bus hit Regina George at the conclusion of Mean Girls. Maybe I resonate more with Cady Harris at the beginning of the flick, scared to death about what’s next because here I am starting over for the third time since I was 17.

Whats next? Will I ever be happy? What is success and how do I attain it? When will I get a happy little family? Do I even want that? Ummmm I think so… So ya, where’s my husband, children, house, and a life full of laughter, good times, sex, love, and a 401k?  Anyone else been there? Stuck in your 20’s pulled 7000 different directions, and unsure if any decision you make is actually the right one?

You know. Am I happy in my career? Should I go back to school? Will I be in debt forever? I just honestly want to travel. I want to do what I’m passionate about. No, actually I just want to make money. Today – I’m single and loving it. Tomorrow – I’m lonely and pathetic, and no one wants to marry me.

When we were younger, by now we thought we would have it all figured out. We don’t. But honestly, I think that’s okay. So for those of you who, like me, feel like you’ve been hit by the giant yellow bus known as the quarter life crisis, I’m confident it’s not going to kill you.

So channel your inner Regina George, bedazzle your back/neck brace, go to the dance, and keep your head up. Take the bumps and bruises for exactly what they are, proof that you’re trying. Wear your scars with pride, because scars always make for one hell of a story. Accept the confusion and uncertainty. Our time in the unknown learning how to roll with the punches and survive will make us resilient AF.

Weather you resonate more with Regina or Cady, they both learn the same thing: Don’t be plastic, be authentic. Maybe school will put you in debt, maybe not. Maybe you’ll be a millionaire, maybe you won’t. Perhaps that perfect little life full of laughter, love, great sex, and a bomb benefits package complete with a 401k is out there, maybe it’s not. I’m sure if you find it, it comes complete with it’s own set of unsolvable problems. Before we know it our 20’s will be over folks, so why not just get the most we can out of these years? The good, bad, and indifferent. It’ll be fetch.

Peace and Blessings,

Jordon

Sex, Love, and a 401K

There Is a Cross In My Closet

 A note to those who feel alone.

It was about midnight. My face was against the floor at an altar. The cross above me, and a crowd of people around me. Praying for me, but not fully understanding why I was having such an emotional moment. No one understood. No one would ever understand.

 “Branded

That was the theme of the week; that we would be branded by nothing but the name of Jesus.

 To this day that is my sole desire and purpose in life. God, brand me.

But here I was, a teenager at summer camp. Face down at an altar because I literally hated the person I was, my deepest secret, my truest brand, and everything associated with it. Face down because I believed this part of me, if it didn’t change, meant I would never be part of a group branded by Christ.

It was as if my eyes turned into rain clouds and poured down a fierce storm on the chapel carpet. Every drop of rain filled with guilt, anguish, pain, and regret for feelings I had no control over. Heart pounding and heavy as ever, surrounded by people who loved me but left feeling:

Alone, unwanted, misunderstood, and unheard.

I begged and pleaded with the lord, “take this from me oh God” I prayed explaining, “God you are all I desire, this means nothing if it means I can’t be yours.” Internally I shouted: “God heal me”

The tears never stopped. I was so scared, terrified that I would not be branded by Jesus because I couldn’t stop being attracted to men. If God didn’t heal me, what brand would I be associated with?

Gay, perv, fag?

The thoughts ran through my mind as I hypothetically played out every minute of how dissatisfying my life would be if God never healed me from this plague I had dealt with my whole life. It was 2am and finally I went back to my room and went to bed. Nights like these happened often.

Growing up as a gay person is hard. Life confined to four walls of a closet is lonely and claustrophobic. My closet had even less space to breath than others. My closet, had a giant cross separating me from the door, and the only way out would be to pick that cross up, put it on my back, and break down that door. The task was daunting, getting out seemed impossible, and I was convinced I was trapped in the confines of these four walls forever.

I so deeply repressed my sexuality. My whole life I was convinced if I just experienced God more, prayed harder, dated more girls (in faith)  that eventually I would just stop being attracted to guys. Eventually I would just be “healed”. It’s that easy right?

I had heard people say things like this from the pulpit: “Gay people just need Jesus”. I had Jesus though, I loved Jesus. But I knew I was gay.  The more I heard about how gay people are so rooted in evil the more I hated my self. When I heard pastor figures and Christian peers talk about wanting to physically abuse gays that are publicly in relationships, I would emotionally and spiritually abuse my self.

Why did it never cross their minds that maybe one of the people they were making fun of, or hypothetically abusing, could be sitting across the pew?

Why did it never cross their minds that when they mocked and joked about gay people, maybe a gay person was in the room with them, and they were actually laughing in their face? 

If I was seeking God with my whole heart, and loving him with my whole life, why was I condemned to hell if this never went away? 

The questions played over and over, and with every unanswered question came another level of self hate. The cycle was viscous. And it was lonely.

Could I really be the only one? Was I really in this alone? Last year I came to the realization that there had to be others like me. People who loved God, who heard his voice, who prayed, read the bible, and believed but also were gay. Others who had tried so hard for God to heal them, but as they got closer to God He never changed them, He just held them.

I found that I was right. I actually found a whole network of people through the Gay Christian Network. People just like me, and it was comforting to know I wasn’t alone. I wouldn’t say I have all the answers, but in the last year I have finally begun to come to some conclusions about my life.

Yes I am a Christian. Yes I love God, more than anything else. Yes I am called. Yes I strive for Holiness. Yes I fall short. Yes I love people. And yes, I am gay.

I will no longer be confined to four walls of the closet ridden with claustrophobia. I will pick up my cross daily. I will move onward. And I will seek the Lords guidance every step of the way.

I pray that no one has to experience the pain and loneliness I did.

You are not alone. You are loved. And you are indeed, created in the image of God.

Peace and blessings

Jordon

 

There Is a Cross In My Closet

The Hope of a Sovereign God

After 36 hours of travel, I had finally moved my bags into the room on the six acres of property that I would call home for the next fourteen days.  Once I was all settled in I took a step on to the grass and began walking toward the main building at the orphanage, in this tiny village of India. 95 degrees, 100% humidity, I couldn’t tell if I was profusely sweating because of the weather, or because I was nervous to meet kids with horrendous life stories and experiences, that didn’t speak the same language as me. My guess is that it was a little bit of both. Never-the-less, I took in a deep breath of the wet air, and began to venture.

I had taken maybe 3 steps and I heard him screaming loudly. “UNCLE! UNCLE!” I thought to my self, he couldn’t be screaming for me. He was yelling as if he had laid eyes on a family member he hadn’t seen in ages. As I got closer to the building the yelling got louder, “UNCLE, UNCLE!” I got to the steps of the building and there he was, standing at 4ft zero inches tall, with a smile as bright as the sun. “I am Monoj” he said as he stuck out his hand. Shaking his hand I replied, “My name is Jordon.” He took my hand, “Jordon Uncle, come.” We ran, skipped, played, and laughed, we didn’t speak the same language, but I guess the language of joy is universal. I had been at the orphanage for maybe 20 minutes, and an 11 year old boy was already teaching me something: How to experience joy in the simplest of ways. 

Jordon Uncle would be the name I went by for the remainder of the trip, and joy would be a recurring experience. Yes, we experienced joy at little flock, it wasn’t a mere feeling in a moment easily forgotten, it was an experience so monumental, the kind of experience that permeates your entire being, and for the entirety of that experience, your heart and mind are completely captivated within it.The kind of experience you never forget, an experience that sticks, forever. Sometimes at night I would stay up wondering how the fragrance of joy could be so potent on this piece of land, in the middle of a village surrounded with so much pain. I mean, if anyone had actual reason to be unhappy, angry, or simply and constantly sad, it’s these people, but they just aren’t.

One day I was painting a cottage that the kids live in. One of the boys, Cartick, was helping me and I asked him, “Cartick what was your first night at little flock like?” The young boy paused, then hesitantly, he began, ” Uncle, I have another brother. My mom can’t raise all of us herself. I come to little flock in 2nd standard, but my mom keep my little brother. When I come here I do not understand, and many nights I cried.” I had no words. Trying to avoid eye contact I continued to paint, thinking to myself: Cartick is one of the happiest kids i’ve ever met, what if I  were in his shoes? What if my single mom dropped me off to be raised by complete strangers and have a copious amount of foreigners visit me every year? Cartick broke the silence, “but uncle now I love little flock. when I am home visiting my mom, my mind, and my heart is at little flock.” I looked at him and smiled, fighting back tears, and he looked back and smiled even bigger. We didn’t exchange any more words, but we didn’t have to. In this moment I realized God is using little flock to save these kids lives. Little flock restored hope for Cartick. It gave him vision for the future, it gave him purpose. One day Cartick wants to be a police officer. If Cartick never came to little flock, he would never go to school, he wouldn’t always be provided nutritious meals, he wouldn’t have heard about Jesus or the Gospel, and he would never believe he could ever amount to anything. When Cartick was dropped off at little flock, he was scared, this was the last place he wanted to be, but now, it serves as a beacon of hope, a safe haven, a place he calls home.

The trip wasn’t exactly all smiles and laughs. Reality sank in as we began to learn more about the kids. Children, who had to witness their birth parents being burned to death, and new children at little flock who didn’t fully understand why they are even there yet. There was a point in my trip where I became overwhelmed with the brokenness of it all. Everyday I taught volleyball to the kids, we even built a new court, one of the boys in particular, fell in love with the sport, and he was rapidly improving. However, I soon came to the realization that Kumerasin will never wear the jersey, he’ll never experience the “big win”,  he’ll never have a team huddle, or the memories collected during team bonding events. All the things I took for-granted my whole life, he will never experience. I remember crying out one night, because it’s just not fair, my life is significantly easier simply because I was born in a different place.

I dwelled in this feeling of brokenness for a couple days, then I went back to my journal entry from day one, where I was reminded of Manoj, I went back to the time I experienced a sort of joy I have never taken part in before. And I realized, these kids, they get it. That doesn’t take away from the tragedy or the brokenness of it all, but God has renewed their joy, and their hope. They have a family at little flock, united in love. They definitely don’t have the best of everything, but they make the most of everything that comes along their way. I was blessed to be welcomed into their family.

I tell you the truth my friends: God takes broken situations, and turns them into beautiful master pieces. If I learned anything it is that God is sovereign, and even in the darkest, most tragic situations, He is working, He is breathing hope into the lives of the hopeless.

Little flock you will always have a special place in my heart. I have been home for two months and I can say the same as Cartick. I am home, but my mind, and my heart are at little flock. 

Peace and blessings,

Jordon Friend

The Hope of a Sovereign God