Being

I admit I enjoy writing about being authentic, embracing one's reality, and living honestly before yourself, God, and others. Perhaps you know why: I lived for so long trying to be whatever others wanted me to be: straight, Republican, a conservative Southern Baptist preacher-boy who rails against "godless liberals," people (like me) of LGBTQ orientation, "abortionists" and "godless secularists" -- you know, the kind of so-called Christian in the vein of Franklin Graham (whose true religion is Republicanism and not Christianity), who makes enemies of Christ out of anyone who disagrees with a Republican agenda.

But you also may understand why embracing your own reality is so important to me on a biblical or spiritual level: if God properly contextualizes truth (cf. Isa. 65:16; John 1:14; 4:23; 14:6; 18:37), and reality (cf. Ps. 146:6; Isa. 45:7; Acts 17:24; Col. 1:16, 17; Heb. 1:1, 2, 3), then embracing one's own truth and reality is to rightly align oneself with the Creator. For example, St John writes: "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." (1 John 1:8) So, to acknowledge that we "have sin" within us is merely to embrace our own inner truth about ourselves, and we are then able to embrace God's forgiveness and redemption by grace through faith in Christ Jesus.

The same is true for every other aspect of our lives: if I deny that I am attracted to men, and I try all sorts of (already failed) methods of being attracted to females, then I am denying truth and reality. If God already knows the truth about me, as God properly contextualizes and sustains all of truth and reality, then trying to deny my own reality is to betray God. If you insist that God can change that reality then I must press you as to why God does not change that reality either out of God's own volition or of God's desire for righteousness or justice or holiness; and why, after 17 years of prayers and tears, God has deemed my attractional orientation a non-committal, non-transformative issue.

Yes, there are scant confessions that God has indeed changed the orientation of certain "former" gay men (and women), and we are gracious to accept their collective confession. Am I suspicious of their alleged transformation? Yes, most certainly, and I have cause to be. (link/link/link/link/link) The sources provided here could be multiplied a hundred-fold. Moreover, how cruel of God to allegedly transform some gay men into straight men -- an existence God supposedly desires as God ordained the "creative role" of men -- but then to withhold this transformation from, by far, the majority of gay men after years of prayers and tears for this miracle. So you will, I trust, forgive my suspicion of "former" gay men who claim to be changed by God. But this post about "being" is not about homosexuality, nor of human sexuality, but of existence within the confines of one's own truth.

From a Christian perspective, each individual exists because of the creative power of God in an ultimate sense, as God sustains every notion of existence at every moment. (cf. Col. 1:16, 17; Heb. 1:1, 2, 3) Even your heart is an involuntary muscle that beats without you, that is, the inner, metaphysical you, controlling or directly causing those beats. Some biologists, neurosurgeons, and neurocardiologists are discovering that the heart itself has a brain. (link/link/link) From the HeartMath Institute we learn: "Most of us have been taught in school that the heart is constantly responding to 'orders' sent by the brain in the form of neural signals. However, it is not as commonly known that the heart actually sends more signals to the brain than the brain sends to the heart!" (link) (emphasis original) What is the connection here between the heart, the mind, and being?

Again, from a biblical perspective, while Jeremiah insists that God states the heart is "devious above all else; it is perverse -- who can understand it?" (Jer. 17:9), the Lord also states that God is the One who will "test the mind and search the heart, to give to all according to their ways, according to the fruit of their doings." (Jer. 17:10) The context here is the people of Judah who betrayed God and trusted in mere mortals. (Jer. 17:1-8) But what does Jesus teach us about the heart? If we use Jeremiah as an interpretive guide to think about the heart then we are not permitted to trust the heart. But given what we are discovering about the heart, and how the heart maintains its own semblance of a brain and it informs the brain in the skull, then can we trust the heart to any degree?


Jesus teaches: "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God." (Matt. 5:8) But how can this be if the heart is always and ever foremost devious and deceptive? (Jer. 17:9) If you answer, "You must first be changed or regenerated by God," then I will answer: Jesus does not make that conclusion; that conclusion is from your systematic theological presupposition. I am not convinced that Jeremiah and Jesus are sharing the same cultural or contextual perspective about the heart; and, perhaps, we should be careful to take an Old Testament passage out of its context and apply it to a New Testament framework in our biblical theology and practical lives. Let me offer another biblical example.

Jesus speaks thusly: "The good person brings good things out of a good treasure, and the evil person brings evil things out of an evil treasure." (Matt. 12:35) So, from the perspective of Jesus, can we not deduce that there are "good" people and "evil" people? Jesus does not here inform us as to how one becomes a good person, or an evil person, but He certainly recognizes the existence of such beings. Responding to some evil men, He says, "You brood of vipers! How can you speak good things, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." (Matt. 12:34) What sorts of ideas and attitudes and motives that are "stored" in the heart are expressed through words.

Can the evil person become a good person and vice versa? Jesus answers yes. Jesus begins his teaching: "Either make the tree good, and its fruit good; or make the tree bad, and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit." (Matt. 12:33) The Greek word for "make," ποιήσατε, refers to manufacturing (producing), constructing (forming), acting or causing. This requires intent from the individual. Jesus confesses elsewhere, within the context of what defiles mortals, that out of the heart come "evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander." (Matt. 15:19) But He qualifies this notation, stating, "These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile." (Matt. 15:20) He is answering a complaint regarding ceremonial washing required by the Law of Moses that renders one defiled or pure. Jesus turns that notion on its head, though. The state of one's heart is what renders a person defiled or pure.

I am certainly not suggesting that a person is in no need of the gracious and merciful kindness of God toward us through means of salvation, such as the atoning work of Christ on the cross and His resurrection, for we cannot possibly make ourselves justified, righteous, or holy. Nor am I denying the proactive grace of God upon the soul in making the heart of anyone good. But, from even a cursory reading of the words of Jesus in Matthew 5 and Matthew 12 (et al.), the implication seems to be that a person can choose the desire to be good or the desire to be evil. Why else, then, tell people to make themselves good or make themselves evil if they have no say over either circumstance?

Your being, your existence as who you are as a unique creature in this world, can be shaped for the better or for the worse. We truly do maintain the genuine choice of either reality. There is no fixed fate for you being either good or evil, stingy or generous, cruel or kind, positive or negative, hurtful or helpful, arrogant or humble, shallow or substantive. What kind of being do you desire? Who is the real you behind the mask you show to others? Are you trying to portray yourself as wise when you lack wisdom, rich when you lack wealth, happy when your heart is depressed? If you are only granted this life to live, and God desires you to be the only and unique you that you can be, then of what are you afraid? Make your tree good and your fruit will also be good. Do not fear being.