Eugene Cho

“gracious as all f*#k”

I’m amazed how many people are tracking with the “gay conversation.”  Many folks have emailed asking if Dan Savage has responded to my email.  He said that he would a day or two after he received mine but no response yet.  Let’s not forget…he’s a big shot.  He’s an editor of the popular Stranger and has his own syndicated column that’s published in who knows how many places.  He’s got people to see, places to go, and blah blah blah so I’m not surprised or disappointed.  No biggie.

On the Slog [the Stranger’s blog], he did mention that some of the Slog posters did such a great job responding to my doozies that he didn’t really feel the need to respond.  Truth be told, there really were some incredible comments and dialogue.  Several people have shared with me that they actually printed out ALL the comments, went off somewhere, and just read through them and in some cases, discussed them with friends.  [That’s a lot of wasted paper…]

I feel somewhat obliged to Dan.  He has written, in my opinion, the best press about Quest through his “church review” and indirectly, given me one of the best compliments [I think] I have received.  In responding to my concerns about posting what I intended to be a personal email on the Slog, he apologized for the misunderstanding and wrote [there]:

We’re not in conflict about the misunderstanding. Cho’s not upset with me; the man is gracious as all fuck.

Thanks.  Seriously.  I wouldn’t necessarily put it in those words but it sums up how I’m trying to live out my life.  Grace has been shown to me through Jesus and consequently, I want to be gracious [as all f*#k].  [To the dirty mouth police out there:  Please let this one go…]

I still intend to write some more thoughts about the “welcoming but not affirming” fiasco but want to just chill before that post potentially incites another 300 comments.  For those that are interested, I am hosting a conversation for those that want to chat and chill.  Please note that it’s not a Quest sponsored event.  It is NOT a debate.  It will be a conversation.  People sitting and talking.  Chatting and chilling.  While people may have different views, my hope is that we can all learn to better communicate, listen, and ultimately, grow in graciousness…  The chats will occur on Wednesdays 7-9pm on July 25 and August 1 and will take place at QCafe.  Everyone is welcome as long you’re committed to a respectful conversation.  Simply, chatting and chilling.

There were so many comments that spoke to me.  This one’s too long to re-post here but you’ll definitely want to read this post from “Fnarf.”  Here are some of the other thought provoking comments of many…

From “Rebecca”

I agree that one of the best things about Quest is how we are challenged to work on our own planks and not focus on others’ sins. But I have to disagree that “welcoming not affirming” is not a position. I think that is the whole point of Eugene’s question: can we hold different beliefs and yet live in community? Why do we have to choose a set of beliefs and not allow room for change, growth, but also conviction? As I tolerate another’s position, why can then my position not also be tolerated? I know that the church has traditionally not been a place of tolerance or understanding or love as regards this issue, and for that I am very sorry. But please extend to me the same grace that I extend to you: the grace to have my own set of convictions, knowing that I may be wrong, that I may be right, but ultimately it is not about who is right or wrong. It is about seeking after Christ and living in a spirit of love.

SDA in Seattle shared:

I do not believe that being gay is a sin. You may feel free to agree or disagree as you like. I do not wish to argue specific Bible passages with anyone, but I think we can all agree that well meaning Christians disagree about the interpretations of the Bible. Some churches say that being gay is a sin, some churches say that being gay is NOT a sin, and some really don’t say much on the subject one way or another. So of course I am going to feel most safe to express my spirituality in a church who’s beliefs most closely match my own.

This is true of all sorts of issues. Some women feel called by God to be ministers. Some churches allow women to be ministers, and some do not. So if a woman feels called by God to be a minister, she probably will affiliate herself with a church that affirms her beliefs. Or perhaps she will stay in a church that does not allow that, hoping to influence them to change (personally, I think that would be a highly frustrating endeavor, but more power to her). Likewise, an evolutionary biologist would likely feel more at home in a church that does not hold a strict creationist viewpoint. And so on.

There are so many places where I do not feel completely safe. Gay people as a whole are bombarded daily by messages from society that we are immoral, that we destroy family values, that we are incompatible with military service, that we are sinners, and so on. I live in a country where it is acceptable political discourse for Ann Coulter to call a presidential candidate a faggot on national television. Within the last 5 years, something like 15 states have changed their constitutions to specifically deny me the right to marry the man I love and have spent more than 20 years with. Think about that for a moment. That many states haven’t acted that quickly to change their constitutions in this country since the end of prohibition. I feel that palpable oppression as a constant drain on my soul daily.

Like an infant who craves acceptance from it’s mother, I crave acceptance too. And I sure don’t get it from society. So I have to put extra effort into surrounding myself with friends who fully accept me, love me, and affirm my beliefs, just to stave off the daily societal oppression. I need to have people in my life who aren’t simply polite to me or nice to me, who simply tolerate me, but people who encourage and nurture the relationship I have with my partner, just as a married hetero couple would want friends to support and encourage their marriage. I need people who love that I’m gay, not people who tell me they love me in spite of the fact that I’m gay.

I know that’s a lot to ask, and of course I don’t ask that of everyone. But I need a few people around like that for my emotional well being. And I need that in my church for my spiritual well being.

a “Warren” wrote:

I think this is right. For Christianity, it is a moral issue…

I believe there is often a double standard in the Church, and this is not fair. All moral issues should be brought to light…

But let’s not stop there… Jesus was always more concerned with restoring and redeeming the worth of a person (think of the woman the Pharisees wanted to stone).

Julie, you asked if someone could simply say that, “God told me so,” that’s kind of it… although Jesus would never stop there, much less answer that question the way we would want him to answer (he seemed to answer questions with questions a lot).

Love God and love your neighbor… make disciples, follow Jesus. I think the core of the Christian faith has less to do with behavior modification and more to do with the heart of God that beats for his sons and daughters in depravity.

jklam wrote:

i see two (problematic) ways the church related to lgbt’s: consumption and rejection. in consumption, we try to coerce those who are different to act and think as we do. we eat ‘em like food and they become part of us — we use what we like and dump out what doesn’t jive with our dogma. this isn’t persuasian via dialogue — it’s a battlefield victory, nothing short of colonization. on the flip side is rejection, where we simply treat the other as the enemy. by evoking religious discourse, we label the other as an enemy of god himself, providing justification for the other’s oppression.

the church, i think, must bypass this consumption/rejection binary in favor of a third, more constructive way, which i think is actually demonstrated quite nicely in my pastor’s blog. the “welcoming, but not affirming” platitude is unhelpful because it’s inadequate in describing an institutional church’s relationship with homosexual members/visitors. it just falls flat, devastating people along the way. instead, i think the church must be a place where everyone’s views of sexuality can be challenged, while also affirming it as a safe place for people of all sexual orientations, thereby making the church welcoming and affirming in a way that ought to be true for everyone. by creating a safe place for all spiritual seekers, we can throw a wrench in the consumption/rejection binary by moving toward humble dialogue.

a Dan wrote:

I don’t mean to be contrary, Mr. Cho, but I can tell you at least one person’s views have been changed by this astonishing thread: mine.

I’m going to have to stay late at work for the time I’ve spent reading this blog, but I cannot think of time better spent.

I’m a gay man raised by fundamentalist christians, sent to a rigid baptist school. The lonliness and desperation of childhood, the self-hate of my early adult years, the resultant (nearly cliche) self-destructive behaviour this engendered in me coalesced over the years into a hotly smoldering rage against christians.

I have been guilty of a bigotry against people of faith just as egregious as the bigotry exhibited against me. This thread has opened my eyes to the fact that there are thinking, sincere christians out there who can engage in a real and respectful dialogue. I feel like the Grinch listening to the whos in whoville singing carols in the absence of their presents. My heart has swelled to 10 times the size it was before I read these posts.

Kate’s post (#16) literally brought tears to my eyes, and I don’t cry. Not about this topic. Not for 15 years or more.

I am so grateful for the thoughtful discourse taking place here. It’s been a bucket of water on the lingering coals of a rage I almost didn’t realize was there anymore.

Thanks for allowing this discussion to take place. It has the potential to change more hearts than you may realize.

Hope to see you folks at the Chat and Chill in couple weeks. 

Filed under: emerging church, justice, religion, seattle

9 Responses

  1. Reyes-Chow says:

    ahhh . . . if we could all be as gracious as that in the midst of disagreement. You have modeled some great pastoral and personal integrity.

  2. jklam says:

    gracious as all f8#k — high praise, indeed.

    now if only he would take back that “insipid” comment…

  3. m@ says:

    jklam,

    Nah, He’ll need to answer to the 18 year-old Asian Sensation, George, for that one.

  4. insipid "g" says:

    i’m actually beginning to like that moniker. 😉

  5. daniel so says:

    Eugene — I’m not sure why being “gracious as all flak” would be such a big deal to the potty-mouth police 😉 I was tempted to comment on the original “welcoming” post when it was lingering right around 300, just to push you over the hump, but it got there all on its own 🙂

    Seriously, though, I have appreciated your grace and your ability to step back and really listen. I wish I could be there for some of these chill & chats… I know these are not formal at all, but will you be posting any followups after these gatherings? I’d love to continue to listen in…

  6. Blake says:

    I completely agree. PE, thank you for being such an excellent model of how all this controversy and intensity of discussion should be handeled. You’ve taught me boat-loads.

    Besides, how many churches can say their pastor was hailed as “gracious as a f@(k” by the stranger? 😀

  7. Blake says:

    haha, whoops. please excuse the typo above. 🙂 Last time I checked, that simile I actually typed isn’t all that accurate. lol. You all know what I intended. I guess typos like that are what I get for typing on this itty-bitty phone keyboard.

  8. Wayne Park says:

    you go boy… man… sir… 🙂

  9. waking up says:

    […] Jul 13th 2007 I made it onto Eugene Cho’s blog! […]

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"He must become greater; I must become less." - John 3:30 We have to remind ourselves of this truth every day lest we forget:

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Sadly, I have witnessed this reality in too many places. ​In 2012, I traveled to a remote area in Eastern Kenya as part of a @onedayswages response to a famine that struck the Horn of Africa region. This famine impacted nearly 13 million people and according to some sources, took the lives of about 250,000 people. During my trip there, I had the chance of meeting many people but the person that still remains in my memory was a Muslim woman named Sahara.

She was so hospitable in inviting us to her small and temporary home. During our conversation, I learned that ​Sahara traveled 300 kilometers (a little under 200 miles) – some by cart and some by foot – as they sought to escape the worst drought that has impacted East Africa (Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia) in the past 60 years.

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She traveled about 200 miles on cart and foot. ​And all along, she was ill. If you look closely ​at the photo, you might notice the large lump in her throat - likely a large cancerous tumor.​ She did not travel alone. She traveled with her husband who I was not able to meet because he was staying with one of his five other wives in this polygamist community.  She did not travel alone. She also traveled with her six children – the youngest being about 1 and the oldest being around 8. She had just given birth to her sixth child when they began her journey. Her youngest was severely malnourished when they arrived to this new settlement in a town called Benane. 
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