The Cross in the Closet

The Cross in the Closet

Timothy Kurek, BlueHead Publishing

I was privileged to get to know this remarkable young man when we were co-speakers at a conference in Sydney. Like Andrew Marin [1] he has creatively built a bridge between “straights” and “gays”, with some remarkable results.

Andrew “stayed straight” during his immersion into the LGBTI world; Tim followed the “Black Like Me” precedent [2] and told everyone he was gay — but he isn’t — so that he could experience what it was like to be victimised (my word) by Christians and others. (How do we know he’s straight? Well, he got distracted in Sydney by girls’ short skirts. And in the book he graphically describes how an unwanted advance by a gay man “creeps me out”!).

Tim’s book has a special endorsement by the well-known “progressive Evangelical” Brian McLaren, with which I wholeheartedly agree: “A one-of-a-kind book with unforgettable moral impact.” [3]

Now why would someone deliberately deceive — and, in most cases alienate — his family and friends and his Bible-belt church by inhabiting another world so that he could better identify with gay and lesbian people’s pain and exclusion and marginalisation?

There’s a simple answer to that: for the same reason God sent his Son to live among us and share our pain and marginalisation. The little conversations Tim has with his alter ego “The Inner Pharisee” point up the dramatic contrast between the way Jesus related to “publicans and sinners” and the approach of the “holy people” of his day.

For Jesus, acceptance precedes repentance; with Pharisees it was the other way around. [4] (I’m waiting to hear a conservative Christian preacher get excited by the idea that “corrupt publicans and prostitutes” are getting into God’s kingdom ahead of the [Bible/holiness] people (Matthew 21:31). One of my favourite/shocking prayers: “Thank you Lord that you love us before we change, as we change, after we change, and whether we change or not!”)

Another reason for Tim’s adventure relates to the wisdom of Epictetus: “If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid”.

The book is an easy-read: Tim’s a very good writer for a college drop-out. I love the “stream of consciousness” method of revealing his inner world to us. He’s honest — brutally honest — even about his own addictions (alcohol and smoking clove cigarettes). And he’s especially scathing about the various branches of Jesus’ church opposing gay rights. (Why would an AIDs walk to raise money for research not be endorsed by churches?) [5]

  • Some “gotcha” quotes from his book and his talk in Sydney:
    “When a girl “came out” as a lesbian, why can’t her Christian parents explain to her that she’s an “abomination” without her feeling like she’s an abomination?”
    Ubuntu: “I am because of who we all are…” (Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s explanation: “A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, based from a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed.”) [6]
  • “Nobody ever changed their beliefs because they lost a debate”
  • Message to Pastor Phelps and the Westboro people: “You can safely say you’re a follower of Jesus if you hate the people God hates”
  • We see others not as they are but as we are. “Once you label me you negate me” (Kierkegaard)
  • “Why are both conservative religion and pop culture hyper-obsessed with gay sex? I too have bought into their lies. The vast majority of gay men and lesbian women desire nothing more than love, commitment and a normal life”.

Another (straight) speaker at our conference asked, “Why did God create gay people? To reflect more of who God is.”

[1] Love is an Orientation  (https://jmm.aaa.net.au/articles/27277.htm )

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Like_Me

[3] See Brian’s excellent unpacking of LGBTI issues in, for example, “The Sex Question”: chapter 7 of his brilliant little book A New Kind of Christiantity.

[4] Pharisees Ancient and Modern: https://jmm.org.au/articles/13113.htm

[5] And see also:  https://secular-europe-campaign.org/2011/04/vatican-opposing-gay-rights-at-the-un-claiming-the-church-is-the-victim/

[6] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ubuntu

Rowland Croucher

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