The Mystery of Human Identity

If we walk in the light, as God is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, God's son, cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7).

I write as the African-American pastor of a church formed in the contemporary intentional-community movement, which like the gay-lesbian movement partly exists as a reaction to the impoverished common life that prevails in North American churches.

Early in our 20-year history, I put my community to the test as a setting in which to entrust to others my personal struggles with homosexual orientation. Actually, this unfolded in a progression of self-disclosures in widening circles: the pastoral team of elders; my extended family household; our pulpit; therapy training groups; and finally, with my parents. My precedent would be followed by several other men who later joined our common life.

This was a sharp contrast to my prior experience of seeking help in the privacy of individual therapy and spiritual direction. I was discovering the body of Christ as a setting for "coming out," a crucial first step along the path to inner healing and reconciliation, but without the presuppositions of gay culture. This intentional community afforded me and others a way to break out of the confines of loneliness and shame into the footroom of redemptive love and recovered dignity. It was a walking in the light of fellowship toward healing and reconciliation.

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