Frank McMullan's blog

My post-retirement blog adventures

Close Encounter of the Third Brother Kind

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I had an encounter with one of my brothers yesterday, the third eldest one as it so happens, who is a (very) born-again Christian.

There are many people I want to see before I embark on my great adventure, this brother being one of them. We don’t often see one another as he has distanced himself from the rest of the family over the years – though I understand he perceives it more the other way round. No matter, I called to his home when I was in his part of the city last evening.

From the very first moment I arrived, I was the object of his apparent mission to convert me from my evil ways, which included having my sexuality defined as an addiction – a new one on me. I was aware – from an earlier encounter with him about ten years ago, when I came out to him, and of which this ‘conversation’ obviously for him was a continuation – that he prays for my cure (through ex-gay ministry, if I understand him correctly). He told me he was so glad that I had brought up the subject – which, I reminded him, I hadn’t – but, anyway, the fact that I was there surely meant (for him) that we would ‘discuss’ this. He produced a Bible that actually uses the word ‘homosexual’ in at least some of the texts that are traditionally trotted out as purporting to condemn homosexuality. I suppose, it is more straightforward from a fundamentalist point-of-view to have it cut-and-dried like this rather than simply to have it to say [because you ‘know’ there is no other possible way of interpreting any biblical text] that a particular text might not allow for any interpretation other than the one you happen to hold. Building your interpretation into the translation itself sort of copperfastens it, doesn’t it?

He was a bit disconcerted when I revealed that I too am born-again, but somewhat reassured when I told him that, for me, this originates in my Baptism in infancy – otherwise, he might have needed to temper his disdainful righteousness towards me. He doesn’t sit in judgement of me, he tells me – though a role for me as Thomas on the road to Emmaus, I’m afraid, prevails. He was pleased that I admitted I was a sinner, but less so when I told him my loving another man in a way that compromised no one else could not constitute sinfulness for me.

I am happy for my brother that he has found meaning in his life through his faith. I am concerned that in his unquestionably sincere conviction he cannot see the potential damage he and his fundamentalist bretheren do in their enthusiasm to save us all. Blind faith at its most absolute!

On a couple of occasions during my visit, his sermonising dropped almost to a conversational tone. It is hard to say if any of my encounter with him constituted the visit I had hoped to have with him.

I can only hope he will continue to pray for me – though preferably not to be cured from something that isn’t actually wrong with me.

Our encounter, I expect, had the effect of confirming both of us in our existing deeply-held convictions. Can I console myself through my seeing that there are many routes to salvation, including my born-again brother’s one? I don’t know if I can.

Maybe, someday, I might be able to visit him and it will be just that, a visit.

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Written by Frank McMullan

24 June 2010 at 17:49

Posted in Church

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