Why do I stay?
This is a question I ask myself every day and have done for many years. It’s part of the daily doubts I have about the very existence of God, let alone the need for a Church, especially one that treats many of her people with such contempt. But though I may have doubts, many of them, repeatedly, I still regard myself as a Christian. I cannot bring myself to claim a perfect faith, nor even a perfect hope – I struggle every day.
I have always been moved by the stories of constancy and commitment in scriptures. The story of Ruth and Naomi comes to mind as a more appealing one. Past or present struggles for Ruth don’t lead her to put aside responsibilities. I’m a great believer in commitment. As a young man, my parish priest, a very kind and sympathetic man, told me that the problem with being gay was the lack of commitment. Really, he had a point, though of course he didn’t really understand that gay people have been denied the ability to properly make commitments and that it has had a devastating effect on gay people throughout history. Combine that with testosterone and it has been a recipe for the very kind of disaster that my generation saw full force in the 80s.
When I was a very young man as part of my Anglican preparation for Confirmation it was required of me, as with everyone else who knelt before the bishop, to affirm that I would “Worship God every Sunday in His Church and to work, pray and give for the spread of His Kingdom”. That was a promise, and I have kept it and strive to continue to do so until my life’s end.
I’m not the sort of man who thinks he has all the answers and in fact I am certain that I have none of the answers. I have only questions. I will leave the answers to others more brilliant and faithful than I. But what I can do is follow an amazing man, a carpenter from an obscure village in the backwaters of the Roman Empire. He lived a life of such compassion that I hold Him as the supreme example of commitment – something I’m still working on. His kind of commitment lead him to the cross where He offered up a life of such decency, such integrity – well, who am I to use a cheat sheet, or to cut the class? Maybe when I get to that level of commitment I’ll have real faith. In the meantime, I’m just sticking around.
Audacious Deviant is an artist and a gay Christian working towards audacity.