Sunday, January 13, 2019

消費電子展中的小國

每年一月份在拉斯維加斯有世界上最大的消費者技術展覽(CES)。你的公司有什麼創新或突破,需要開拓市場和尋求投資,就把新產品拿來顯擺一下,世界上最大的商業領袖和思想先鋒都雲集在這裡。

今年參展的有1700多個美國公司,1200個中國公司,好幾百個法國和南韓的公司。這些國家都有政府贊助的櫥窗,集中宣傳他們本國的最佳特色。

有些國家商業和技術都不太發達,也從遙遠的地方換好幾趟飛機來到從未涉足的美國,勇敢來參展。他們的初創公司也要和別人一樣,花$1000設立一個標準攤位,首次預備他們的公共信息資料,估計他們對美國的旅館飲食費用會感到很昂貴。

這裡介紹幾家公司,都是他們國家來參展的“唯一代表”。沙特阿拉伯的MMH Labs來展示他們的Bluefin,一個又輕又小的薄片,可以貼在魚的身上,在人一般不到的水域去測量水壓、水深、水的酸鹼度。

那位教授帶了幾個學生來到CES,要看看人們對他的技術介紹有什麼反映。他指出,你們這裡展覽的東西,世界上絶大多數的人都買不起。(一點不錯,發展商當然是要從有錢的消費者身上賺錢。)

亞洲西南的小國亞美尼亞有個Tooyn公司研發出萬能一體的充電器,這個充電器帶有各種格式、形狀的貯存/傳送接口,希望能集資生產。他們在展會上遇到亞馬遜,表示願意在國際上賣他們的產品,特別高興。

洛杉磯有超過300萬的亞美尼亞後裔,這個公司的創始人其實在洛杉磯出生長大。他回到祖輩生活的地方實習,於是決定留在那裡的技術行業,現在是個伊朗和俄國勢力競爭的地方。20世紀的亞美尼亞經歷過種族大屠殺、蘇聯解體、和一次大地震,當地人很稀奇竟然有人決定歸來做事。

非洲塞內加爾的首都有家公司Orbus Pay,允許商務部門收銀付帳無論是現金、智能手機、還是銀行信用卡,都可以在同一個平台上操作。因為在塞內加爾,絶大多數人不是用現金,就是用手機買賣,只有少數人用卡。而西方人主要用卡付款,他們到非洲就感到不方便。

Orbus Pay想把他們這個服務平台界面賣給其它非洲國家的商務部門,可是非洲人不那麼相信非洲自己的技術公司,而比較相信日本、歐洲、美國的技術。所以,他們來到CES借用美國渠道向他的非洲朋友介紹!

Amber Connect不光是牙買加唯一的代表公司,整個加勒比海就獨此一家,所有盈利歸於私人。他們搞車輛技術,來CES參展是第四年了—會見汽車廠家、零件銷售商、和車輛銷售商。他們發覺這裡是最有效的聯絡渠道,免了到處跑腿。

Savadia充滿希望,想要將來在加勒比海搞出一個類似的技術展,向周圍國家作買賣,不必跑到美國來。這人擁有Amber集團的所有股份,掌管汽油付款的技術平台,以及有關的軟件和數據分析公司,以及Amber Pay掃瞄付款系統。他把經營利潤的80%交給一個非牟利的印度瑜伽心靈教育機構,因為那家機構曾幫助他脫離酗酒,生命得到徹底翻轉。

本文译自流行科技新闻评论博客网站Engadge的文章When you’re the only company at CES from your country

Friday, January 11, 2019

一節反對原罪論的經文

傳道書7章28節:你看,我所找到的只有一件,就是上帝造的人是正直的,但他們卻尋出許多詭計。

自從奧古斯丁發展出原罪論的教義,西方的神學家就相信夏娃破壞了神的創造。亞當雖然也有責任,可是早期教父怪罪夏娃到半死,估計任何女神學家都因此失去資格發表什麼異議。--人的罪能夠世代“遺傳”,是因為本性是壞的!

後來生物遺傳學發展起來,沒有找到“罪”的基因。今天偶然看到傳道書這節經文,竟然反對原罪論,不免稀奇。奧古斯丁沒有電腦搜索工具,所以忽略了這麼重要的話!中華文化中的“人之初性本善”還是有道理的。

看這節經文的前面幾句話,同樣莫名其妙,說有些女人很可怕,勾引男人犯罪,只有蒙上帝喜悅的男人能夠逃脫她們的陷阱或鎖鏈。接著作者描述正直人很少:一千男子中找到一個正直人,而女子中一個正直人也找不到。意思大概是說多數男人都容易被女人勾引,而沒有一個女人不吸引男人?

這怎能說上帝造的人是正直的呢?只能理解為人出生時本來是好的,後來在生活中發展成詭計多端--大概因為他需要防範別人勾引,或想出詭計勾引别人嘛!

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

說說美國的移民和犯罪率

美國政府從12月22日起部分停擺,所有的“非必要部門”關門,為的是聯邦政府撥款的臨時預算未能通過。這事情別人聽起來可能很奇怪,川普總統堅持預算50億來建造墨西哥邊境的圍牆,立法兩院中的民主黨人堅決不同意。

川普的理由是中美洲難民中有很多犯罪分子,進入美國之後就提高了犯罪率--建造圍牆可以把犯罪分子擋在外面,他是在考慮“國家安全”。立法院中的共和黨人大多數不發言,有一位表示支持總統,有幾位對政府停擺表示了不安。

民主黨人不同意造圍牆的理由是:圍牆不能擋住罪犯,用高科技和其它監測方法更有效。去年加強邊境安全的預算只花了5%,為什麼今年需要再浪費50億付稅人的錢去造牆?更何況那些難民並不增加美國的犯罪率!

很多人以為中美洲移民的素質低,大概會增加犯罪率。不過別忘了,他們絶大多數是基督徒,一路禱告上帝保佑而來。雖然其中可能有罪犯,他們的素質並不低於美國本土生的白人。川普總統公然說歡迎歐洲挪威白人移民,而污衊結隊而來的中美洲難民是罪犯入侵--美國人歧視有色人種,應該悔改。

非法移民在罪犯中到底占了多大比率?以下是加州公共政策研究所的統計數字。請你記住,民主黨治理的加州庇護無證移民,交通警察不會自動聯絡ICE(聯邦的移民海關執法機構)使他們被拘捕,因此應該有較高比率的“非法”移民人口。

2018的數據還沒有出來,總的說來,加州的暴力犯罪在2017年有所增加,但仍保持歷史上最低水平,見圖表所示。其中所謂的property crime包括了盜竊、偷車、縱火、商店行竊、故意破壞別人的財產等等。

罪犯中到底有多少是移民呢?川普總統以為舉兩個加州無證移民殺人犯的例子,就可以說明無證移民很多都是罪犯。但是根據統計數據,無證移民—那些被美國政府拒絶簽發合法證件的移民—犯罪率並不高於本土生的美國人。

德州有一份2015年的調查報告,表明占人口83%的土生美國人,在所有兇殺罪案中占了90.3%。而10.6%的合法移民人口,只有3.8%的兇殺案是他們犯罪。6.4%的非法移民,犯了5.9%的兇殺案件,也低於他們在德州的人口比例。

總統先生說,因為沒有牆,很多毒品從墨西哥邊境進入美國。但數據表明那些毒品一般是從墨西哥海關入口港、混在合法物資裡偷運進來的,極少是靠人體攜帶進來,更不是難民從其它邊境地段帶進來的。

前一階段有人嚷嚷這些非法移民搶了美國人的飯碗,現在不再提了,因為目前失業率空前低,很多崗位找不到工人。而且那些非法移民願意幹的低薪勞苦工作,都是別人不想幹的!有個牛津研究百科網站,在犯罪學和刑事司法領域有篇文章,專門探討移民和犯罪率,供你參考。

美國本是移民國家。川普總統虛張聲勢,為人們根深蒂固的的偏見和錯誤印象傳謡,恐怕是為討好他的選民--說人家想聽的話,而不是披露真相,不是好的領袖。不顧事實,利用外來移民恐嚇不學習、不進步的本土美國人,不會讓美國更偉大。

Sunday, January 6, 2019

歌唱甜美做工的靈

基督徒需要喜樂。撒旦希望奪去我們的喜樂,但我們的神希望他的兒女因信而有喜樂。這是我們在世界中的見證。



今年在聖誕新年期間,我多次在商店買菜聽見播放聖誕的詩歌,不是“Jingle Bell”或“We wish you a merry Chritmas"之類的歌,乃是“平安夜”和“奇妙嬰孩”這些詩歌。在墨西哥人的店裡聽見聖樂自然不必說,他們大多是基督徒。但在越南人開的店裡,他們在門口向擺放的佛像燒香,竟然也放“聖善夜”!

基要派的基督徒總愛說他們的信仰如何遭到排斥,似乎沒有啊。凡事不要太極端,乃要歌唱甜美在我們内心做工的靈...

There's a sweet sweet spirit in this place
And I know that it's the spirit of the Lord
There are sweet expressions on each face
And I know that it's the presence of the Lord
Sweet, Holy Spirit, Sweet heavenly dove
Stay right here with us, Filling us with your love
And for these blessings
We lift our hearts in praise (hearts in praise)
Without a doubt we'll know
That we have been revived when we shall leave this place

下面這首讚美詩歌歌頌創造萬有的上帝,讓人不能不歎服,給我們上百個喜樂的理由。

Friday, January 4, 2019

默想:罪就是伤害人際關係

今天閲讀Moen博士2006年關於“過犯”的原文默想。以弗所書1章7節:我們藉著這愛子的血得蒙救贖,過犯得以赦免,這是照他豐富的恩典。

這裡希臘字“過犯”是paraptoma,有時翻成“罪”,卻不是我們常看到的“罪孽”那個字hamartia。這兩個字的細微區別在於:罪是泛泛指沒有達到神律法的標準,而過犯也是罪,卻稍微不同,常常指得罪或冒犯別人。特別重要的是,這個字給我們看到,得罪人和得罪神沒有道德上的區別。當我得罪我的鄰舍時,就同時得罪了神,我的罪總是在一個群體中損害到別人。

我們需要說明這一層面的“罪”字。將所有的罪過統統都叫作沒有達到律法要求,未免令努力改進行為的人洩氣。但paraptoma讓我們增進了瞭解,看到那不只是按照規條生活而已,罪又是與人交往和與神交往中的過失,你不能把對待別人的方式和與神相交分開來。難怪約翰說,人不能夠一邊說愛神,一邊卻恨他的弟兄,這樣的人是說謊,因為愛神和愛弟兄是同一件事。

這就是說,我的群體生活不能夠和我個人的靈性分開。我對待鄰舍的方式其實反映出我是否向神敞開了心懷。也就是說,我的社會關係是我宗教體驗的一部分。我如何對待別人,展示出我對神的忠心,不要以為我可以忽略、傷害、冒犯、瞧不起別人而不影響與神的關係。

讓我們禱告:“主啊,赦免我的過犯,饒恕我有時不理會需要我幫助的人,有時攻擊侮辱別人,有時尋求報復或希望別人遭害。在那些時刻,我得罪了你。主啊,今天請你讓我真正作一個看守我弟兄的人,作一個分擔他的重擔、給他提供庇護、鼓勵、安慰的人,給他能力、使他能夠生活得安好。不要記念我的過犯,我也不記念那些得罪我的人。”

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

看哪,天上的大火徵兆

今年加州的森林大火猛烈又頻繁,其中有兩場大火失控,在11月份中旬燒了好幾個星期,死了至少88人,好幾萬人被迫疏散,救火費用幾十億美金,煙氣污染了一百多英里之外的城市,人們受到警告,取消戶外活動或戴口罩等等。

這些大火顯然給有些人好像世界末日已到的印象,不過在加州已經越來越成為“新的正常”現象了。近幾十年來,野火肆虐的程度趨向於越來越凶險,氣候越來越乾燥炎熱,這個趨勢幾乎肯定是要繼續下去的。以前只有夏季是野火季節,現在野火已經差不多是常年發生了。

不停息的野火季節降臨,正符合氣象科學家的預言:隨著全球氣溫升高,危險的極端天氣增加,包括使加州植被可燃的乾熱期延長。

今年感恩節之後的星期五,美國政府發佈了一份300名聯邦政府的科學家寫的報告,強調了氣候變暖將會為美國人民帶來的健康、安全、經濟方面的影響。報告預計,美國西南地區將有更多的大火,中西部沒有收成,嚴重的洪水和風暴引起的道路、橋樑、運輸管道破壞。

或許我們不覺氣候變化很快,但科學家認為氣候變暖的速度令人驚嘆。德州科技大學有位科學家說,我們說將會發生的事,現在已經在實際生活中看到了。他是那份政府報告的作者之一。

聯合國氣候變化各國政府間合作小組警告,世界只剩下十幾年的時間來削減二氧化碳排放量,使得與工業化之前相比,溫度不超過1.5攝氏(2.7華氏)度,這是2015年巴黎氣候協定訂下的目標。即便達到這個目標,美國政府的研究報告指出,恐怕還是不能阻止全球變暖。

在基督降臨節期間,教會思考想日月星辰末世的預兆,邦國的痛苦,人的惶惶不安,一想到將要臨到世界的事就驚恐(路加福音21章);又默想末後的審判,聖經說如同用火熬煉金銀(瑪拉基書3章)。氣候科學所預言的末世正是如此。

氣候科學為我們顯露出這樣一個基本真理:自然界和其中人的位置之間的關係細膩複雜,需要維持平衡,人卻很要命地容易追求自己的暫短利益,過於考慮其他人的好處,包括考慮我們自己兒孫的利益。

氣候科學還給我們另外一個層面末世預言,就是希望的種子。它顯露出我們所面對的蒼涼真理,叫人可以及時改變行動路線,悔改得救。

本文内容取自Christian Century 12月19日双周刊。

Monday, December 31, 2018

轉發:Pray the Same Sex Attraction Away

What is your New Year Resolution? Pray for your gay friend to change? Forget about it, below is a gay Christian's testimony, as one of the 2018 Patheos platform's most-read blogs--nothing seemed to help.

Dr. Rose had called me to her office on this day because she had been told by another professor that I was struggling with same-sex attraction and on top of that had begun interviewing a number of popular well-known gay affirming pastors on my podcast and campus radio show. They believed I was going to start advocating for LGBT+ inclusion on campus and promoting theology that contradicted Moody’s official position, when in reality, I was still quite conservative and still firmly believed that my same-sex attraction was sinful. But simply because I was talking to people with different perspectives, I was deemed to be not just dangerous- but demonic.

“If you want to prove yourself to us, you need to start meeting with Dr. Gene, her office is right next door to mine. She practices healing prayer which God can use to heal you of your sexuality.” I quickly replied, “Of course, I’ll do anything”, and I really meant it. I was not trying to cause trouble, and I certainly didn’t want to lead myself or anyone else astray. “And here is a book I want you to read and report back to me on. It’s by the leading therapist that deals with your issue.”Dr. Rose handed me a brick of a book called “Shame and Attachment Loss” by Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, one of the most influential reparative therapists in the country. “I’ll do it”, I said. “I’m really sorry, Dr. Rose.”She turned away from me and I fumbled towards the door of her office, visibly shaking with tears running down my face.

The next day, I had my first meeting with Dr. Gene, the professor who specialized in healing prayer. I had only seen her around campus a few times, but she struck me as a stereotypical lesbian- tall, athletically built, short hair, and a deep voice. I walked into her office, which was adorned with crucifixes and paintings of Christ on the cross. She closed the door gently and said, “It’s good to meet you, Brandan. I’ve hear you’ve been raising a bit of hell around here.” She smiled and laughed. “I really haven’t been trying to”, I said with a slight grin. “Moody can be a little intense sometimes. So, tell me, why are you here?”For the next half an hour, I shared about my upbringing with an abusive alcoholic father and an over-attached mother, I spoke of my same sex attractions and my struggles with masturbation. I poured everything out for Dr. Gene, deeply hoping that she could offer some assistance to me.

As soon as I finished, Dr. Gene looked at me again with a gentle smile and said, “Do you mind if I lay hands on you and pray?” I nodded. She then led me in one of the most profound prayers I have ever experienced. “Brandan, as we sit in the presence of God, identify a time when you were an infant where you were neglected.” I imagined a scene my mom had told me about, where I was left crying in a crib for hours while my dad was passed out drunk. As I conjured up images of that scene in my mind, Dr. Gene prompted me to imagine Jesus stepping in to my room, lifting me up out of the crib, and embracing me in his arms. “Can you feel his heart beating against your body?”, she asked. “I can. I feel so much peace” I replied. She then prayed for God to pour healing into my young soul, to break the chains of pain and generational curses that were upon me, and begin restoring me to be the whole man I was meant to be.

Towards the end of the prayer, Dr. Gene reached for a bottle of water sitting on her bookshelf. She said, “Do you mind if I use some holy water?” I was taken aback. We were a conservative Baptist college who was decidedly anti-Catholic. We didn’t use holy water. But, being the edgy boundary pusher that I was thought it would be a cool experience. “Sure”, I replied. She poured water on my head and declared that I was clean before God and that my chains were being broken. She invited me to renounce all of the demonic spirits that were trying to overcome me, “Repeat after me: I renounce Baal, Ashtoreth, the spirit of homosexuality, the curse of my father…” Moment after moment, I renounced everything she told me to, and as the prayers got more impassioned, I felt tingles all over my body. By the time she said “Amen”, I opened my eyes and had tears of joy. I felt like a new man. “Thank you so much, Dr. Gene” I exclaimed. “Anytime. Shall we meet at this same time next week?”“I will be here!”

I left her office feeling on cloud nine, like God was actually going to heal me from not just my same-sex attraction, but all of the pain in my life. I felt like I had been saved all over again, and was so eager to get back into her office next week for more prayer. Every week, we would have a similar experience where I would share a little bit more about my “sin struggles” and Dr. Gene would open up to me a bit about hers, and we’d pray intensely for healing. A deep relationship began to develop, as you’d expect to happen with someone who you are sharing your most intimate thoughts and struggles with. Dr. Gene and I began to text outside of class, whenever I felt tempted by homosexuality or pornography, I would text her and she’d send me a powerfully worded prayer. She became an advocate for me with Dr. Rose and the Dean of Students who were keeping their eye on me as I continued to blog and podcast.

About four months in to my healing prayer treatment, I had what I called a “major stumble”. I had invited my best friend Max home with me for the holidays- we both struggled with same-sex attraction. One morning as we were waking up, we began to kiss and fondle each other. This lasted for all of five minutes, but as soon as we stopped, we both filled with dread. “What have we done?” I whispered loudly, so my parents couldn’t hear. “Let’s pray” Max said. We fell to our knees by the bedside and repented, begging God to forgive us and to keep us from this sinful behavior. As soon as we finished, I texted Dr. Gene to let her know what had happened and to ask her to pray. She called my phone and I explained the situation, she rebuked me firmly, told me to keep my distance from my friend for the rest of my trip, and prayed over me. When I got off the phone, I told Max what she had said and he agreed. We barley talked the rest of the trip, and anytime I got in physical proximity to him, he would turn and say, “Get away from me.”

I reflected on this experience for the next couple of days before we drove back to Chicago. What happened between us didn’t feel wrong, but I knew it was wrong because God’s word said so. The relational separation between us, the rebuke I received, it all seemed like a harsh overreaction. This whole thing felt off. But I couldn’t express that, and I fought against these thoughts in my head. “This is just the devil tempting me”, I deduced. But when we got back to Chicago, Dr. Gene told Max and I that we needed to deal with our sin more severely, so she booked us a session with one of the leading “healing prayer” practitioners at Church of the Resurrection in Wheaton, IL, the homebase of this healing prayer movement.

It was a cold, gray Chicago morning when Max and I made our way to the train station to go out to Wheaton. We didn’t say much to each other, and intended to keep our distance so as not to tempt each other to sin. I felt sick to my stomach the entire hour-long train ride to the suburbs, wondering what we were about to experience when we arrived at the church. When we walked into the large, empty church building, we were greeted by four individuals, including one of the most prominent authors and leaders of the healing prayer movement. They welcomed us and took us to a small office where they sat us next to each other and told us to describe, in detail, what we had done with each other, and our current sin struggles.

Max and I sat awkwardly in silence. “You want me to say this out loud?” Max said to the counselors. “Yes, unless we can name our sin, bring it into the light, there will be no healing”, one replied. He began to describe what happened at my house over holiday break in vivid detail. He then spoke of sexual tension that had been building between us since freshmen year, and his other struggles. I reluctantly followed suit, naming each of my struggles, my own emotions about Max, and my desire to be healed. They looked at us with concern. “You’re going to have to make some big changes, gentlemen. First, your friendship is over.” A knot formed in my stomach and a lump arose in my throat. I began to weep. Max was my best friend- he knew everything about me and I admired him so much. I wasn’t sure how I could continue to make it through Bible college without him.

“Next, we’re going to spend some time praying for both of you individually. Brandan, come with me.”I followed a slender man with a salt and pepper beard into an adjacent office. He asked me to stand up tall, as he pressed his hand onto my back. He looked at me in the eyes and said, “Do you want to be healed?” I wiped away my tears, breathed deeply, and said “Yes, I really do.” His assistant grabbed a bottle of holy water and he began to anoint my head, praying that God would cleanse my mind. He anointed my chest, asking for God to cleanse my heart. He poured water on my pelvic region and prayed for God to heal my sexual desires. And out of nowhere he put his hands on my head and began to shout in tongues, an unintelligible “language” given to individuals by God. He vacillated between shouting in gibberish, and then renounced Satan and various demonic forces in English. I stood with my eyes closed shaking in fear. I didn’t feel God’s presence here at all. I didn’t feel like I was being healed. In fact, this felt demonic to me. This man didn’t know what he was doing. He had made me feel ashamed and uncomfortable. As I stood listening to him shout gibberish over me, I felt anger rising within me. This was absolute bullshit.

When they finally finished praying, they dismissed Max and I and told us that we should plan on visiting them again soon. We walked quietly through the small town of Wheaton, back to the train, and headed back into the city. Max and I wouldn’t talk again for a few months. I entered into such a deep season of darkness- losing my best friend, who I loved so deeply, and beginning to realize that this healing prayer thing wasn’t working, and facing the fact that if I didn’t keep doing this, I would likely not be able to graduate. The pressure landed me in the hospital just a few weeks later after suffering a massive panic attack in the middle of the night. I awoke unable to breathe, overwhelmed with grief and shame, feeling like something must be deeply wrong with me for this not to work. All I wanted was to be faithful to God. All I wanted was to do what was right. But nothing seemed to work. Nothing seemed to help.

I continued to meet with Dr. Gene every week, trying to be authentic in our sessions, but growing increasingly cynical with Moody and this whole process. She could see that something was off, but continued to pray, anoint me with holy water, and hope that God would do something to heal me. By the time May rolled around, Dr. Gene had assured me that when she was asked about whether I should be permitted to graduate that she had given her endorsement, but that she remained concerned that I hadn’t experienced more healing or progress. During our graduation ceremony, Dr. Gene prayed final prayer over the graduating class, and I felt like she was looking at me the entire time: “God, keep them from the snares of sin, and lead them into wholeness and holiness”, this had been my hope and my desire. But nothing about my experience seemed to have been holy or leading me toward wholeness- the rejection and demonization by professors and students alike, the consistent shaming of me for my attractions, the destruction of my deepest relationships had pushed me further from God and had made me more cynical towards evangelicalism than ever before. My faith was in shambles, and I feared that my life would soon be as well.

Six months later, I had moved home to Washington D.C. and had taken a job for a new organization called “Evangelicals for Marriage Equality”, a group advocating for civil marriage equality among evangelicals. In my time out of school, I had discovered that there were large groups of Christians that were much more gracious, kind, and affirming of who I was even as I continued to wrestle to reconcile my faith and sexuality, and had become passionate about seeking to bridge the divide between the LGBT+ community and evangelicals. As stories about my work began to surface in the national media, I began to hear from students and professors at Moody.

“Dr. Rose spent half of the class warning us about you today, Brandan”, one student texted me. “For what? Arguing for civil rights?” I responded. I was familiar with the way Moody demonized students who left their campus and then didn’t continue to align with their social and theological views. I just hoped that students would be wise enough not to buy into whatever demonization narrative was being spun about me. A few days later, I opened up my inbox and saw a name that made the color drain from my face. It was Dr. Gene. The following is an excerpt of that email:

“Hi Brandan,
The last time we talked you…acknowledged that you were slothful, and simply declined to exercise your will to stop sinning. You were dishonest about your commitments, among other things, hiding your commitment to heretical views. On atonement, for example. I wonder whether in your very expensive talks you tell the people how dishonest, cunning and manipulative you are. I wonder whether you tell them about your addictions and compulsions. I wonder whether you tell them about how actively you cultivate a sin life while being so inactive towards righteousness and how damningly lazy you are? Do you tell them how disinterested you are in the Word? Or how driven to power you are, desiring spiritual gifts for public display?So where exactly do the bridges you allegedly build lead?Certainly, you are a leader, Brandan. It is safe to say that in the current trajectory of your life you will usher many into a hellish existence. And when you need the blood of Christ to wash away your sins, where will you turn, now that you have renounced His redeeming and transforming work so thoroughly?I know you like to be coddled. True words feel so harsh to you. (This, of course, keeps the door to your personal prison locked.) Nevertheless, only one word makes sense to speak: Repent.”

As I read this email for the first time, I surprised myself when I didn’t experience anger. I wasn’t intimidated. No, as I read these words, I felt truly sorry for Dr. Gene. I felt sorry for so many of my professors at Moody. I felt sorry for those who had committed their lives to trying to pray the gay out of people. Every line of this email was infused with fear. This was the same fear that drove students and faculty to fear me talking to people with different perspectives. It was the same fear that caused me and Max to sever our relationship. It was the same fear that had landed me in the hospital. It was the same fear that made me want to give up on faith altogether. And I remembered the words of Scripture in 1 John 4:16-18 which says:

“God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world, we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

Every attempt to change my sexuality was rooted in fear. Every harsh word and threat of expulsion emerged from a posture of fear. Everything about my faith as an evangelical Christian found its genesis in fear of hell, fear of judgement, and ultimately fear of God. But now, standing on the other side of these traumatic experiences and attempts to heal myself, I felt, for the first time, a deep sense of Love. Not sentimental love, but an enduring sense that I was embraced by God and that regardless of what I believed or did, nothing could separate me from this Love. I realized, for the first time, that the evangelical faith that feared difference and sought to change it was rooted in fear and therefore, could not be said to come from God, for “the one who fears is not made in perfect love.”

As I recount my experience trying to find healing from who God made me to be and as I hear the stories of individuals who went through far worse than I did, my heart continues to break. It breaks because of how deceived these Christians are who do not know the enduring Love available to them to free them from living in fear. It breaks my heart because of how many LGBT+ Christians end up destroying or ending their lives because of the pressure that fearmongering Christians pile upon them. It breaks because so many of these Christians will never get to experience the liberation that I have tasted by discovering the truth of the words written in 1 John- Love does indeed expel all fear.

The Love I share with my partners of the same sex is liberating. The Love I get to proclaim every week as an openly gay Christian pastor heals the deepest of wounds. The Love that I feel for myself, as a gay man created in the image and likeness of God has set me free from the chains of bondage and shame. The life I now live is filled with so much joy and peace- I feel like I’ve been born again. I only hope that those still living in the bondage of fear will taste of this Love and be liberated to be the people God made them to be, too.