To begin with, you'll need a couple definitions:
umfriend - noun (slang) - a term describing a relationship of questionable moral character; often coupled with the use of a pseudonym to describe the partner in the relationship. Usage: "Uh, Auntie Jean, this is...well, you can call him 'Bill,' and he's my....um...friend." (Stolen shamelessly from some email I got a while back.)The rest of the story...
a friend of Bill - slang - a bit of verbal short-hand used by members of 12-step communities to acknowledge each other, when it would be inappropriate to just blurt out questions like, "So, are you a member of Alcoholics Anonymous?" The name "Bill" refers to Bill W., one of the co-founders of AA (along with Dr. Bob S.).
In common usage, an AA member like myself could drive up to a building with a number of people standing in front of it, and ask, "Hey, is this where the Alcoholics Anonymous meeting is?"... thus breaking the anonymity of everyone standing there in the process. Or I could just as easily ask, "Hey, is anyone here a friend of Bill's?" An affirmative answer says I'm where I need to be. (If they respond, "Bill who?" I just keep on driving.) See also a friend of Bill & Dr. Bob, and this listing from the Urban Dictionary.
I love SiteMeter, because it gives you the last 100 sites that referred folks to your blog. I find it fascinating to see where folks came from. But it was a little less fun to read this little exchange on a community board (which will remain nameless and linkless, to protect them). One of them had read my one-and-only famous/infamous post, Just how shocking is the Gospel?, and the group was bantering back and forth about all the usual issues that conservative Christians find with the post - how come he didn't have Jesus command them to "go and sin no more," it's just a justification of the homosexual lifestyle...the same kinds of things conservative folks commented about when the post went up two months ago. (I appreciate their concern, but it's old news. You can go back & read the comments, if you want to know.)
But then, this pops up:
Person A:Did you read the author's biography section? He says that he is "a friend to Bill since..." Plus he has a link to support World AIDS Day. Hmmm...Hence the definitions at the beginning of the post.
Person B: What does "a friend to Bill" mean? I'm clueless. Does that mean one's gay?
Person A: The fact that HE puts the quotation marks around it, and that he gives the year in which their relationship began...In case you didn't know, homosexuals who are either "in the closet" or who don't want to be blatantly offensive to the 'delicate sensibilites' (as was once told to me) of people like us, will often use that formula to indicate their significant other.
So, feeling a need to at least correct the perception of brothers and sisters in Christ about "friends of Bill" not all having boyfriends, I applied for membership on their board, and gave them a less-sarcastic definition of "a friend of Bill" than I gave here, trying to make the point that "a friend of Bill" was different than "an...um..friend..of 'Bill's'." I also shared that I'd been sober a good while, and that I saw it as a gift of grace from God.
Person A's response?
Are you a homosexual? I ask because you don't deny such in your response. You simply say that the "friend of Bill since 1990" bit is a reference to your affiliation with AA. That comment - which, since you say you have several homosexual friends, you know is often the way "they" speak of their "significant other" - plus the overall tone of your posting gives the impression.That's when I got angry.
I'll save an apology until I get a straight answer.
It's never a good place for me, spiritually, but it happens. I swore - a lot - and was all set to be devastatingly snarky. I even had a dazzling epistle about half-way written, when (by what can only be the Holy Spirit) the words of Mark 6:11 came to mind: And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave, as a testimony against them.
So my final post to them was much shorter, and much less snarky than it could have been. The essence of my reply was "I thought I was saving you from a bit of stupidity. Too late, it seems. Thanks a lot. 'Love one another, as I have loved you.' Yeah, right. Don't worry, I won't be back to sully the character of your discussion."
I've had a day to think about just what made me furious about the whole thing. I'm not sure I'm done yet, but here's what I've got so far.
I really don't give a damn what you think about me. I'm not a representative of any church, or the spokesman for any movement. I'm just a man who struggles daily with what it means to follow Christ - so (as my brother Rick L. says) I usually just settle for being a Christian. And I'm not going to address my orientation - because, if I'm straight and say I am, folks like these just assume I'm lying, anyway.
Besides, it doesn't matter what my orientation is - since I've unfortunately been celibate for, well, multiple presidential terms. Even the strictest literalists will give you that it's the act, not the orientation, that's the abomination. (One of the annoying things I've considered over the last two years is that in the ELCA, I could have been ordained if I was gay - I just couldn't be ordained if I was broke. That says something, but I'm not sure what, exactly.)
But the heart of my aggravation is this: it really annoys me that with folks like this group, anyone who is friendly to homosexuals, or seeks in any way to understand their orientation, their struggles, or (God forbid) their faith is automatically assumed (by folks like Person A) to be gay themselves. And, of course, since all gay-sympathetic people are really gay anyway, there's no sense in listening to them, or paying any attention to what they say - since they're all just trying to justify "the homosexual agenda." Why build a bridge, when it's so much more fun to burn them?
To quote Ray Bradbury - that, my friends, is "Crappulous Nonsense." There are hundreds of people I've met recently - both in person and in the blogosphere - who are passionately following Jesus Christ, heterosexual through and through, and yet deeply concerned about the lives and faith of people in the gay/lesbian community. Whether they are outspoken bloggers, or passionate preachers of the Gospel like John Buchanan at Fourth Presbyterian and Jeremiah Wright at Trinity UCC here in Chicago, or the dedicated servants at Balm in Gilead, these people are deeply faithful followers of Christ - and I'm blessed by God to know them.
As I said, think what you want about me, my orientation, and my faith.
Part of me really wants to go over there and post a link to this entry. But to be honest, I need to keep repeating that Mark 6:11 text. Resentment is the number-one offender in this deal, and I just need to put this - and them - behind me. I'm not there yet, but I am getting there...
Oh, the best part of all? Person A's signature line shows him to be a Masters of Divinity student at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. This is a future pastor talking... Now, I don't believe for a minute he'll have any gay folk in his church (at least, not for long) - but there probably will be a number of folks in recovery - those infamous "friends of Bill." Pray for those folks, will you? They'll need it.
"E'en so, Lord Jesus, quickly come..." And save us from ourselves, and each other, Lord. Amen.