As in other postings, the answers listed below are not from a book nor are they “popular science”. They are in fact the hearts and minds of those in attendance. This is what Free Indeed has been saying along, “We meet you where you’re at!”
Shame & Acceptance
Defining & Growing Together Right Where We Are
What is shame? Anything that makes me feel bad. The way I feel when I have wronged another. What I put on myself when I can’t think of anything good of myself. The way I feel when I have done wrong in someone else’s eyes and they tell me about it. “What’s wrong with you?”
What is Acceptance? When others like me. When others make me feel like I belong with or near them. When I identify with something or someone that seems good for me or agrees with me emotionally.
Are these Biblical Principals to live by? Shame… The agreed upon answer is NO, absolutely not! Acceptance, absolutely YES! But is this right we asked. When Jesus instructed us to love one another as we do him, was he telling us to accept one another? We agree that we accept all who seek a relationship with Jesus right where they’re at in life with a Godly willingness to help you with your struggles. Fancy way to say, “We aren’t here to judge you. We’re here to be your friends.”
Can shame bring good to someone’s life? No way! Being shamed by others or feeling personal shame have no place in the heart of our loving awesome Father. Which means no place in yours either.
Is shame good? Never. Even saying to someone, “Shame on you” is poison to the heart and soul. Let’s face it, if someone is feeling self inflicted shame, they don’t need you to throw dirt on them!
Though we agreed shame is never good, as Christians we know that God will use our shame to our good if we will give it to Him. Don’t forget, the Bible tells us, “He took our shame” and conquered it on the cross!
Take notice of the answers in the first two questions. You will see that shame was something we bring to ourselves. We hold it like a security blanket and fear it as it drowns out our lives. Shame keeps us so involved with self we can’t hear God calling us to his protection. We can’t hear our friends nor will we allow ourselves to be led to a safe place of acceptance and love! We fall deeper into the trap of labels and isolation. Yet acceptance was all about what others say or do towards us. Should it not be the opposite? Acceptance should come from within so we can hear its’ voice and use the power it gives us to accept God’s love. Shame has no place within us! When we are accepted, we trust, listen and follow the one we are trusting. Whom do you trust? Are they leading you into death? Jesus will not…Trust me!!!
What is the offense of SSA? As described by the group, it is when someone tries to get too close (that is the same sex) to me physically. As participants described it, their hands came up in front of them without their noticing. The hands were an internal sign not to come in too far. Not a bad thing. In fact, we all have our boundaries and they are there to protect us.
The true offense of SSA goes back to the perfection of creation. God gave man and woman to each other to enjoy and (let’s face it) sex was part of it. After the fall, sex and attraction were twisted into many things never planned in the beginning. The ultimate “slap in the face” to God would be that Satan would have us desire each other within the same sex. That’s where it started and society has spent all the time beyond trying to make it, “Okay”. Okay to us and okay to God. Fortunately, the evil plan set forth by Satan has only been turned to God’s great Glory! Haha Satan, HE STILL LOVES US AND ACCEPTS US TO HIMSELF!
Does normal bring shame or offense? This was tough. As we agreed the week before, “We are all normal.” Yet when we are in SSA lifestyles, we reject normal allowing it to bring shame to ourselves which in turn brings offense to those around us that are not in the struggle. Twisted isn’t it! Normal should never be a label that brings shame or offense! Key word here, “LABEL”.
Am I accepted? Remember, these questions are being asked of people that do not struggle with SSA as well as those that do. The opinion of the group came to, “Yes”. I should be accepted so I am accepted. By whom, becomes the big question for each of us. All people seek their same. So being accepted can take you to high and wonderful places in God or low isolated places outside of God.
Am I acceptable? Too often acceptable is in the eyes of the one we are looking to for acceptance. Acceptable to people is purely subjective and you may be fooled and later hurt because you are hoping others won’t mind your SSA. Acceptable needs to come from within which only works if you have a personal relationship with Christ who dwells inside your heart.
How do you accept that which is offensive? Confusing is this question. Can I accept the things in life that I am offended by? That was the approach we made to this one. The answer was a clear, “No I can’t and won’t accept that which offends me.” However, I can accept the person and love them as God does (and not fake it) because we are all offensive in some way to each other. Don’t mistake this for the thought of love the sinner but hate the sin. This has been so twisted by the church that there is no love for the sinner at all! We are learning that Grace is where it’s at. It far exceeds words that (especially today) seem utterly phony. We know how special we and others are to God and it is Grace that we live out daily.
What are some of the consequences of acceptance? Again, I reminder you this question is only looking at those in SSA. We certainly wondered how there could be consequences of acceptance and this is what we came to. Just because you had a SSA feeling in the past doesn’t mean you’re destined to live it, yet by accepting that as you (identifying you with SSA) we can doom you to a life of hardship and confusion. Friends and family may try to accept your lifestyle and now fear hurting your feelings so they don’t tell you how they feel and isolate from you. And what happens if you’re accepted into a sexual situation that now threatens your life!?
Can you be close to someone in SSA without being offended and provide acceptance? Absolutely yes, in fact each person was in this very situation with someone in their lives. Perhaps you’re living a gay lifestyle, we (at Free Indeed) accept you where you’re at and as Christians we are diligently praying for you, trusting God to do a wonderful work in your life. Result of our acceptance, you change your mind about God, you learn to trust (again or for the first time) and you begin to live in the Grace we so dearly love and speak of often.
Where is Jesus in all this? Right in the Middle…He will never leave us nor will he forsake us. We can’t do anything that will stop him from completing his plan! He just wants us to Love each other and that includes you!
John, who lived in the lifestyle for 30 years and returned to Christ full force, and Brandon, a 21 year old straight man also in love with the Lord Jesus. A team of two brought together by God to act as one. One gay one straight both in loving relationship with Christ.