Hello! (Sorry for the Anonymity.)

Bisexual Pride

I have blogged before. This isn’t something I have done with great frequency, but it is something I have enjoyed quite regularly. Unfortunately, with my blogging experience, I have run into several problems.

First of all:  I am bisexual. This has been something I have struggled with since I was about 14 years old. I grew up in a conservative Christian denomination that teaches that same-sex attraction, although not sinful, becomes sinful when acted upon. Most people from the outside of that situation would ask me:  Why not leave? That’s where it gets complicated.

I am an ordained minister in my denomination. Which denomination is that? The Salvation Army. This might come as a surprise to many. Very few people know that The Salvation Army is a religious denomination. Most people know that we are a good organisation that helps people out in need. Some even realize that we are a faith-based Christian organization. Still, our principles are guided upon Jesus’ command to serve our fellow neighbour.

I feel strongly that The Salvation Army can do this most effectively. We try not to do it with a lot of fanfare or pomp and circumstance. We do not look out for photo opportunities or PR moments such as other organisations might do. We keep our costs down, often to the detriment of our staff’s wages.

I have always felt God’s call on my life to serve him as a Salvation Army officer. This was never a question for me. I grew up in The Salvation Army and love everything about it:  from the quirky uniforms to the fact that we try to help as many people as possible. We can do this quite effectively, too.

One of our biggest assets is also one of our biggest liabilities:  our military hierarchy. When The Salvation Army first started out in 1865, very little thought was given to a military church. Our founders, William and Catherine Booth, felt that we need to reach those that the Church had forgotten or despised:  the poor, the homeless, the prostitute, the drunk. We did this quite readily. However, we noticed that people did not want to hear about God or religion when they were hungry, homeless, needing clothes, etc. We began to realise that we need to help the whole person out and not just his or her soul.

Almost by accident, our name changed in 1878 from “The Christian Mission” to “The Salvation Army.” In Great Britain, it was (and still is) not uncommon for uniforms to be everywhere and part of everything in society:  school children wear uniforms. Brass bands wear uniforms (not tuxedos). So why not a church? William Booth became general. (Fun fact:  William’s wife remained without a rank. Catherine was simply known as the “Army Mother.”) Our clergy became “officers” and the laity became “soldiers.” Becoming members meant that we signed “Articles of War.”

This is nothing new and you can Google it to find out more information about our structure.

Our hierarchy gives us quite a bit of efficiency. We can mobilise rapidly and deploy our services all over the world.

Our hierarchy also does not allow for dissension. This can be good. Whenever someone tries to alter something vital to our teachings, our structure allows for it to be stifled. Unfortunately, when change is needed, it becomes next to impossible to do anything about it, unless mandated from the top command.

So, how does one enact change? The way our structure is set up, it is next to impossible to enact a very significant change.

As a Salvation Army officer, I am not an employee. There is no legal status between The Salvation Army and myself. In fact, I had to sign a statement saying as much. Technically, I am self-employed, receiving an allowance and housing from The Salvation Army for services rendered. I am grateful for The Salvation Army. They take care of their officers very well. I want for nothing.

The problem comes in when I challenge the system. If I were to come out as a bisexual Salvation Army officer, I would be scrutinised heavily. I only know of 2 other officers who are active gay officers and who are known to be gay by their superiors. These officers are expected to be celibate.

Salvation Army officers are expected to be celibate unless they are married and gay Salvation Army officers are not allowed to marry someone of the same gender. I have come to realise that being a member of the LGBT Community and having a committed relationship with someone of the same gender is not a sin. Many people have talked about this before. I would refer you to Justin Lee’s Unconditional (title Torn in other countries), and Matthew Vines’, God and the Gay Christian.

Besides these wonderful books, there is also Reverend Mark Sandlin’s excellent blog post on “Clobbering ‘Biblical’ Gay Bashing.”

I have come to understand that Jesus, were he ministering today, would minister to those that society, and especially religious society, has rejected. In this case, that would be the LGBT Community. Jesus would be dining with drag queens, going to Pride Parades, and showing love to those we have forgotten to love.

Over the process of several years, not only did I begin to accept this fact, I began to accept myself as a bisexual person.

When I attempted to address this with my superiors, I was told to stop talking about it. I was also told that what I was talking about was heresy and that if I wanted to continue being a Salvation Army officer, I should stop discussing it. If I were to talk about this publicly, especially in social media, I would be terminated immediately.

The Salvation Army shows great compassion to everyone. They serve everyone without discrimination. The discrimination comes into play when people try to become members of The Salvation Army. The Salvation Army’s Position Statement on “Homosexuality” is ludicrous. At one point, it acknowledges that same sex attraction is not a sin, but at the same time it says that even though it is not a sin, it is a sin to have a loving relationship with someone in the same gender. Most websites of The Salvation Army have removed the Position Statement on Homosexuality, just because this has been so misinterpreted over the years.

Here is the current Position Statement on Homosexuality (as of 2002):
The Salvation Army holds a positive view of human sexuality.  Where a man and a woman love each other, sexual intimacy is understood as a gift of God to be enjoyed within the context of heterosexual marriage.  However, in the Christian view, sexual intimacy is not essential to a healthy, full, and rich life.  Apart from marriage, the scriptural standard is celibacy.

Sexual attraction to the same sex is a matter of profound complexity.  Whatever the causes may be, attempts to deny its reality or to marginalize those of a same-sex orientation have not been helpful.  The Salvation Army does not consider same-sex orientation blameworthy in itself.  Homosexual conduct, like heterosexual conduct, requires individual responsibility and must be guided by the light of scriptural teaching.

Scripture forbids sexual intimacy between members of the same sex.  The Salvation Army believes, therefore, that Christians whose sexual orientation is primarily or exclusively same-sex are called upon to embrace celibacy as a way of life.  There is no scriptural support for same-sex unions as equal to, or as an alternative to, heterosexual marriage.

Likewise, there is no scriptural support for demeaning or mistreating anyone for reason of his or her sexual orientation.  The Salvation Army opposes any such abuse.

In keeping with these convictions, the services of The Salvation Army are available to all who qualify, without regard to sexual orientation.  The fellowship of Salvation Army worship is open to all sincere seekers of faith in Christ, and membership in The Salvation Army church body is open to all who confess Christ as Savior and who accept and abide by The Salvation Army’s doctrine and discipline.

So, in one breath we are told we can be who we are. In the other breath, we are told not to act on it. The Salvation Army officiates marriages for heterosexual couples, no matter how many times they are divorced. Divorced people and remarried people may serve as Salvation Army officers. However, if someone is in a committed same-sex relationship, the line is drawn there. I find this hypocritical. In one instance, The Salvation Army says they are trying to defend marriage by not allowing LGBT people to marry, but at the same time, they will participate in divorced couples getting married and even ordained.

Why? I’m not certain, but I can hazard a guess:  They are afraid of anything different than heterosexuality. They can understand how people get divorced and go through a difficult marriage, but they cannot understand someone who loves someone of the same gender.

Where does that leave me? Right now:  Forever stuck in the closet. I will not be able to discuss this with anyone. I’m not even certain if people will read this. However, having this blog gives me an outlet to express myself without fearing that someone will take away my ordination.

I will continue to serve God. I will continue to serve humanity. I’ll just be in the closet.

In the next few weeks, I will tell more about my story:  How I came to peace with my bisexuality, my experiences with bisexuality, and other theological matters that are important to me.

13 thoughts on “Hello! (Sorry for the Anonymity.)

  1. Yeah, one’s religious beliefs can leave them deeply in the closet because it’s difficult to justify one’s feelings against their convictions – and it’s one of the hardest things for a bisexual to come to terms with – been there with this one… and this is what I learned.

    My faith and belief in God is unchanged but the hypocrisy in religion is very disturbing so I had to “decide” which meant more to me – my faith/belief in God and the personal relationship I have with Him… or someone repeating a mindset that is not only old but has never changed. The Word is what it is and most people don’t question it… but some of us do because what it says about this and the fact that people have almost always been bisexual (or even homosexual) contradict each other. Some of us question it because this can easily be seen as a measure of control put into place to make sure we all do things one specific way instead of giving in to our natural urges to bypass that specific way to behave: Be heterosexual and able to make babies so that our species can be maintained.

    I believe in God… not really feeling what the ministers are saying these days and all one has to do is look at the debacle that’s landed on the Catholic Church to see the fallacies here: Sometimes, “do as I say, not as I do” isn’t an acceptable answer to everything.

    At the end of any day, it’s about which is more important to you: Your ordination and service or, for lack of a better thing to say, your humanity. It’s a very tough choice to make but you should know (if you don’t already) that many of us have just put it all in God’s hands and lived our lives as best we can and, yes, that includes doing something about how we’re feeling in this.

    Tough thing to be locked in the closet when you don’t want to be in there and I have always had great sympathy for those who can’t get out. But I’d say that if you accept that you’re bisexual but acting on it risks too much for you, then you have at least a toe out of the closet if nothing else.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for taking an interest in my blog! Yeah, staying in the closet is nothing I like to do, but right now and for my particular situation, it is best for me. I just wanted an outlet to talk about this freely without risking being criticised.

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      1. I’m on your side, believe me. You should always do what you think is best for yourself but, yeah, I know all about this and how it can just mess any bisexual up to have this “crisis of faith;” we know what we’re taught and we’re taught to obey this without question… but it really doesn’t always work like that for everyone and even for folks like you who are dedicated to following the laws and rules.

        Tough choices but not impossible ones. Many of us feel that once we make our peace with God about this, we’re good to go because how we choose to express our humanity when it comes to this has nothing to do with our faith in the Lord – because there’s nothing that should or can come between us and God.

        There are gay and bisexual ministers and many are openly so; yet, they continue to minister, don’t they? The continue to serve the Lord without shame and in the face of ridicule, right? What keeps them the way they are? Their faith – but I’m thinking you already know this. Besides, as it is often said, if God didn’t mean for you to be bisexual, you wouldn’t be.

        But, yeah, just because you wanna do something doesn’t mean it’ll be smart or otherwise to your advantage to do it, like keeping your job and other important things.

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  2. Hi! Thank you for sharing your thoughts about this. I am just a member and not an officer, but I relate to what you say. I feel at home at The Salvation Army. Most of my family is in the Salvation Army; officers, soldiers, cadet. I am out to some of them. Sometimes it’s very frustrating and it feels lonely to still be closeted to the rest of the community.
    I will be reading this blog with much interest.
    Many encouragements to you in your ministry!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Bisalvo, this is an interesting blog. Thank you for sharing. I just have a question, if I may. I understand that this is a very personal question, however I believe it is entirely relevant to the topic. Are you practicing celebacy? This is not a witchhunt and this is only to assist with my own understanding of your situation.

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  4. bisalvo, it’s me again. I hope you do not mind me communicating with oyu in this manner. I posted a comment to you on another post and I most certainly do care for your situation. I understand why Shannon asked you the question regarding celibacy and I understand your reluctance to answer.

    I am quite confused how you can equate divorce with homexuality. Yes God hates divorce, but it is never condemned as sin. Homsexuality is….in several places. I am always confused by those who would change the words of the bible to satisfy their own urges.

    The one called kdaddy wrote: “The Word is what it is and most people don’t question it… but some of us do because what it says about this and the fact that people have almost always been bisexual (or even homosexual) contradict each other. Some of us question it because this can easily be seen as a measure of control put into place to make sure we all do things one specific way instead of giving in to our natural urges to bypass that specific way to behave:”

    All I can say to that is that, yes , it is true that anyone who lives a lifestyle that is called sinful by God’s word has always and will always attempt to justify their actions in their own minds. God cannot be mocked….I’ve read that somewhere. Becoming a person who honors God does mean that we overcome our natural urges. Walking in the spirit means you have overcome the flesh. I truly care about your soul. And as I said, I only speak in love to you, not in condemnation. It is not sin to be tempted, it is sin to respond to that temptation….does this sound familiar ?:James 1:14-16

    14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.
    15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.
    16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.
    NKJV

    Attempting to justify your sin to God is an argument you cannot possible win. If you are truly homo or bisexual, OK. No problem. But you must overcome. We all have a sin to overcome. No one is exempt. If you are unable to live your life in a manner that honors your covenant, then either change your life or resign your commission. The choice is yours to make. I feel pain for you simply because you feel you are unable to live your life in a way that allows you the freedom of your sexuality while honoring the covenant you have made with God and The Salvation Army. But it is not true. You are able to overcome the temptation you feel…all the temptations that are offered. Blessings, my friend. Again, I am keeping you in prayer

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    1. Sin is sin. Jesus equates divorce with adultery. So, you’re right. Divorce is actually up there as an actual sin whereas being a member of the LGBT Community is not.

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  5. O darn, you got me….not really…here’s the verse regarding divorce and adultery.
    Matthew 19:8-9
    8 He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.
    9 And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.” NKJV

    There is a qualifier in there regarding sexual immoraliy. I agree with you regarding that
    those who have merely grown tired of their wives or husband do sin by divorcing. But it is forgivable. Homosexuality is not sin, acting on it is sin. You already know all the verses, or at least you should. And even if it’s acted on, it may be forgiven, but God expects us to eventually figure out we can’t have it both ways. Walk in the light and darkness at the same time. Being in a sexual relationship outside the bonds of your gender or of marriage are both sin.

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    1. Homosexuality was never mentioned in the Bible. It’s a Nineteenth Century word invented by an Austrian and uses a Latin-Greek hybrid word.

      Theologians are definitely not unanimous at translating what Paul said in Romans. In fact, Paul made up a word that had ever been used in Greek before.

      Same-sex attraction is not a sin. What Paul was referring to was basically “loose” behaviour. This would have included the Roman and Greek version of temple worship, which often included sex as part of their religion.

      The Salvation Army has done enough damage to LGBT people, excluding them from worship and fellowship. We are the marginalised and people such as yourself do not seem to care about that.

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