Learning To Hate And Hope
BY Tad DeLay
Growing up, I was uber-Right wing; then I matured some. I’m an Arkansan; I’m not that southern. I thought the Bible had the words “homosexual” and “hell” in it; then I learned some Greek. I thought the Bible gave lots of really clear answers on everything from sex to salvation; then I read the thing cover to cover a few times. I used to think it was important to have my stances nailed down; then I matured.
Like I said, I’m from the South. It’s not a badge I where with much pride, if you want the truth. Being a southerner with pride is all about large trucks, hunting ducks, and hating on the blacks and the gays and the lib’ruls. By contrast, I’m really just a snob. I read books by dead guys. I have a man-crush on the late Jaques Derrida. I drink stouts and ales because I’m apparently too typically snobby to drink the watered-down beers that are the mother’s milk of the rednecks. I smoke a pipe because I want to look as if I’m very intellectual and have reason to pause before I answer your question, fist taking a long, pensive draw. After I die, I hope to spend some time in Hell hanging out with Bono, Peter Rollins, Jesus, and all the other radicals who did not believe the proper things one needs to believe in order to get a crystal palace in the skies.
A couple years ago, I took a break from my university in Arkansas and spent some time living in California. I think that was the first time I met a gay person (at least that I knew of). Last year, a close family member came out of the closet, and some of our relatives still don’t know because they would rather not.
I’m becoming a big fan of sex, and I highly recommend it. Sex is the greatest and oddest thing- how integral it is to a committed relationship. It only became a part of my life four months ago when I married my bride. I think a lot of people suspected I was gay before I married her because I reached the age of 22 before caring to go on a date. In the South, if you aren’t hooking or married up by the age 19, you are presumed either gay, dysfunctional, or dysfunctional and gay. The only thing prized higher than “the Biblical definition of marriage” is keeping your abnormalities a secret.
That said, I turned out rather odd, given my surroundings. I have this drive to be an intellectual in a culture that prizes redneck-ness and dropping out of college after a good year of partying with the good ol’ boys. I live among GLBT even through I grew up learning that God detests the Big Giant Gay and his America-hating agenda. I was set up perfectly to be the ideal fundamentalist, but something went beautifully wrong and I ended up here in emerging-land with the firm conviction that I will hold my convictions lightly. I try to remember that when I speak for Ethics, for God, for the Logos, I am at least partly wrong 100% of the time. I feel very certainly called by God to convert the Church to the way of Jesus; I feel the whole world just might follow.
“Queermergent” has a catchy ring to it. I still don’t know if I like the term or not, to be honest. I sometimes worry that it will be a turn-off to people looking for evidence that the emerging church will be a hipster bunch of syncreitists. I worry about this because I am a people-pleaser, and it is one of my biggest faults. I really shouldn’t worry about what people will think if they are not willing to give something the benefit of a doubt in the first place. Sometimes people ask me about sex, particularly what I think of the homosexual variety. I’m no expert in the matter, so I shrug and mutter something about how Jesus didn’t say anything about it, even though he could have, when he healed the centurion’s homosexual sex slave. I try to be like Jesus, which ends up meaning I’m vague on making decisions for others and big on helping and loving however I can. I’m fare more interested in discussing the health of a particular relationship than I am about making grand pronouncements about types of relationships. My position on anything in the world really doesn’t matter, and anyways it will change over time if I plan on maturing. This seems to consistently anger people. I shrug.
Next year, my bride and I are moving back to California so I can grab a doctorate at Fuller. But we will forever be indebted to the South, a mixed bag of family values, fundamentalist vexation, and futile victimization. It’s the land of the “real Americans” and the “real Christians.” I have been warned not to let my mind be warped by the tree-hugging lib’ruls. It’s too late, really; most of what I learned about Christians, gays, and gay Christians had to be unlearned to mature thus far. Augustine once famously said “The Church may be a whore, but she is still my mother.” Well the South may be a bastion of hypocrisy, a living tribute to a bygone era fast fading in a globalizing world, but she is still my cradle, where I learned to hate and hope.
Tad DeLay recently married his best friend, and together they hope to spend their lives working out the social action their faith claims to believe. Tad is a hack theologian and will be leaving his native Little Rock, Arkansas next fall in order to attend Fuller Theological Seminary, where he hopes to pursue a doctorate. He is particularly obsessed with Biblical criticism and poststructural epistemology.