It’s still difficult for me to grasp – Donald Trump is going to be our next President. Of the United States. Of the choices running for office, I favored Bernie Sanders. I was going to vote for him in protest against the way that the two-party system has failed to represent the middle class, forming an oligarchy rather than a democracy…until Donald Trump actually won the Republican nomination. Then I was one of the apparently few Christians who voted for Hillary Clinton on Nov. 8th. In vain, as I live in a state that Trump dominated during the election, but at least I can sleep a little better knowing that I personally did not contribute to this vile man gaining power.
So here we are…and I’m sad and quite concerned about a number of things with Trump coming into office. First is his willful denial of the existence and impact of climate change on our planet. Our nation is already moving so slowly in response to this threat, and we are running out of time to make the changes that are needed to provide a sustainable place for all of us to live. [For more information on things you can do to help, I recommend the following: 350.org, CCL, Katharine Hayhoe.]
Second, I’m concerned about how the church will respond. Putting false hope in the office of the President, and on national laws / political platforms rather than our calling to personal holiness can have a corrosive effect on our faith. I’m afraid that is, at least in part, what has led so many believers to vote for Trump in the first place. We are warned many times in Scripture not to look for power outside of the Almighty, but time and again we fall for the same thing.
“Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”
I’m not saying that we should not look for Godly men or women to serve in our government – by all means we should! But Trump has made it clear that he is not a Godly man, and that he is not out to serve anyone but himself. Narcissists in power do not make good leaders.
Third, and more in tune with the overall topic of this blog, I’m concerned about being misunderstood – actually – continuing to be misunderstood*. In truth, people like myself who have spent years wrestling with our faith and out sexuality, and who have chosen to follow the Lord in setting aside our same-sex desires for His sake – we’ve never really been understood by the culture at large, nor truly integrated into the church in a healthy way.
This morning a headline caught my eye: “Rachel Maddow chokes up describing Mike Pence’s anti-LGBT policies.” I’ve never watched Rachel Maddow’s show, principally due to not having a cable subscription. Whenever I have seen clips of her speaking, however, she has come across to me as someone who is fair minded. So I wanted to learn more about her concerns regarding our Vice-President elect.
Maddow went on to describe some of the anti-LGBTQ policies Pence has promoted.
“Mike Pence said you should not only take away money from HIV and AIDS programs, he said AIDS funding should be taken away from serving people with HIV and AIDS,” she said, “because instead it should be diverted into government-funded programs designed to cure people from being gay, to try to fix gay people.”
On Pence’s 2000 campaign website, he advocated for spending public funds promoting the broadly debunked practice of attempting to change a person’s sexually orientation from gay or bisexual to straight.
“Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior,” he wrote at the time.
Well, great – that makes a lot of sense. (For me to be fair, I’ve not fact-checked this. It is possible that Pence is being misunderstood, but Maddow isn’t the kind of person to promote hype, so I’m going to suspect it’s true.) Yet, the fact that some people who have sought change in their orientation who are also HIV+ seems to have slipped through the minds of both Maddow and Pence. I’m sure people who are HIV+ would like to remain alive, regardless of their sexual orientation, and I’ve never seen anyone involved in any type of Christian outreach to the LGBT population propose that any government funds be directed their way. Let me repeat that last part – I have never seen anyone in Christian outreach to the LGBT population ask for government resources, including funds, to support their efforts. The separation of church and state, in this sense, is a good thing.
And here is where the concern with Pence lies – I don’t want to be lumped in with him and those who don’t quite seem to understand the good experience I and others have had in seeking to submit our sexuality to the Lordship of Christ. It’s not a good idea to divert funds away from HIV & AIDS programs, and it’s not a good idea to have the government fund the type of counseling I received. It would be nice to see that counseling for those who want to explore the potential for fluidity in their sexual orientation not be outlawed, as it preserves the right of self-determination. But preserving and protecting this right and supplying funding are two different things.
The good news is that there continue to be more and more articulate individuals coming forward who are being heard who can help to foster better understanding of the complicated issues surrounding homosexuality. And that is how I see myself, and my experience – I hope and pray that the story of my experiences will help to understand a bit more of the mystery of human sexuality. I hope it will spur on better questions and cause people to think and look more deeply into their own lives. I hope that by speaking out eventually well-meaning people like Pence won’t make such terrible suggestions, and fair-minded people like Maddow won’t be so upset.
So we’ll press on, continuing to share what we’ve learned, in the hopes that eventually, we won’t be quite so misunderstood. May we listen well, serve much, and earn the opportunity to be heard in the days to come.
*These are most certainly not my only concerns about the upcoming Trump presidency – his narcissistic character, poor choice of advisors, appeals to the base racist elements running through our country, etc. are all terrible. There are too many concerns to cover in a blog post, actually.