In 2010, the U.S. Census showed that the non-Hispanic white population is growing at the slowest rate; it added that the Hispanic and Asian populations have grown considerably. In addition, we have seen remarkable shifts in public opinion to accept LGBT people over the past decade.
What do these changes mean for America and our economy? How do they affect our understanding of God? And what do they mean for me as a person of diversity?
Personally, analyzing who I am and what I am has been a challenging journey, especially in relating my identity to my Christian faith.
Born in South Korea to a single mother who placed me for adoption, I was raised by an Iowa family with 14 other children. It has been a truly blessing to love and be loved in return. My parents introduced me to church at an early age.
Because my family’s First Assembly of God Church offered interpreting services, I was able to worship, understand the Word of God, and seek God’s amazing love through the sign language interpreter. Often, churches provide voluntary interpreting services because they are not required by law.
I was very active in church. I attended church on Sundays, Wednesdays for bible study, and even Fridays for late revival nights. After the deadly shooting at Columbine High School in 1999, I led a monthly gathering of Christian students at a flagpole in front of my school campus for prayer and scripture-reading. When AOL Instant Messenger was my Facebook, my screen name was GodAwesome17.
When I approached my high school years, I started to struggle, and I prayed to God, “What on earth am I here for? What is Your purpose for creating me?” I was peer pressured to abandon my Christian faith, considering the fact that many deaf people are not involved with their faith. I also started to realize my curiosity for same-sex relations. All of a sudden, I became conflicted with my faith, and then rebellious against the truth of God.
I was especially frustrated at the fact that I could not embrace both my identity as a gay person and my love for God.
One day, my mother asked me to go to church with her and my siblings on a Sunday morning:
“Wake up, Joey, time to get ready for church.”
“Mom, I’ve decided not to go to church anymore.”
(Silence) “Oh, how come?”
“Just because I don’t want to.”
“You are not the Joey I used to know.”
That was a starting point of ups-and-downs in my relationship with God, my parents, and loved ones. I came out to my parents when I was a college freshman. Close friends rejected me because they were disgusted by the idea of me liking or loving someone, whatever their gender.
During my coming out, I had a difficult time embracing my whole identity—as a Christian, a gay man, a deaf individual, and an adopted son.
I despaired, “Search me, God, and know my heart.” Deep within, God was knocking on the door of my heart. I determined to let God in, and I felt the power of God as I had never felt it before. From there, I knew God wanted to lead me in the way everlasting.
As I became older, I realized that I could embrace my whole identity in the body of the Christ. By doing so, I have been keeping Jesus Christ as the focus of my Christian journey, and I have been seeking the right church—though not a perfect church—with a progressive theology. In the future, I am committed to getting married before having a family (definitely no more than three kids), which I can now do thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
In sharing my faith with the LGBT community, I have noticed that LGBT Christians deal with a significant amount of shame and have to worry about rejection from their church ministry. To me, the most important part is not changing the establishment of religion (because it has been evolving over time). Rather, I think what’s most important is a person’s relationship with God.
If an LGBT person commits to their faith, what can stop them?
It saddens me that LGBT Christians blame themselves, and I believe it is the church’s obligation to welcome and share the light of Christ to all persons in all walks of life with love and charity. For those struggling with their identity, I hope this blog affirms that it is totally cool to be gay and Christian, despite our unique differences, beliefs and other factions.
The truth is, there may not be one straight answer to how our country will deal with diversity of any kind. Each of us will probably have to wrestle with diversity changes and concepts on our own, taking everything before the Lord and fervently asking that He would show us the most excellent way of love.
It is my hope that our country will reflect on our increasing diversity through the lenses of faith and love.
Thus, may we be bold in sharing our faith with confidence.
Photo courtesy of Joseph Lewis
Presbyterian Church in America