Tuesday, February 11, 2014

An Unspoken Compromise

by Rizi Xavier Timane
 Hawkfish Publishing     2013
185 pages     Spiritual

Rizi Timane began his life in Nigeria as Nasele, a girl. He always knew he was a boy, but did not transition until he was in his late 30s. An Unspoken Compromise, his memoir and spiritual guide, is directed to the LGBT community he serves with his ministry. He has been a resident of the United States for many years and has a PhD. He studied theology at Claremont School of Theology and he works as a pastor and counselor, specializing in LGBT and grief issues.

An Unspoken Compromise is divided into two parts; the first part is a memoir and the second is a theological look at the biblical passages that are most often presented as indictments of homosexuality. The two themes that I identified with the most are his lifelong desire to be accepted by his parents, and the biblical, fundamentalist position taken by his parents that would not allow them to accept him for most of his life.

The first theme--the overwhelming desire for love and acceptance by his parents--is a very heart-rending exploration of a child's need for acceptance. His mother was very outspoken in her condemnation of his "choices," but Timane seems to understand that it is her religious views speaking rather than her heart, which seems to yearn to hug him close. When my son came out to me as a gay man, I remember that my very first thought was, "There is nothing that can separate my son from me or from the love of God!" 
The second theme is a study of the scriptures.
Timane helps LGBT Christians understand the context of the scriptures that on first reading seem so condemning. He says, "For example, instead of viewing the Bible as unforgiving and set in stone, I read it with an open, humble, and inquisitive mind, and always view its stories within the appropriate historical context." He tells his readers that condemning Christians are followers of the Bible rather than followers of Jesus who preached love and compassion and acceptance.

My denomination, the United Methodist Church, is embroiled in a huge controversy over gay marriage and the acceptance of LGBT people into ministry. A recent AP news story explains it better than I could write it. You can find it here. The crux of the matter is that Methodism is a world-wide religion, and Methodists in the United States are open to gay marriage and a change in the church discipline that would allow the acceptance of the LGBT community to happen. However, the members of the world denomination in Africa and Asia are unwilling to make that move. It is anybody's guess where the controversy will end. My guess is that the denomination will split into two parts, but most Methodists don't want to see this happen. It is very disconcerting to see the denomination that I have been part of all my life in this huge quandary. Most people understand that the issue of the place of the LGBT community in society to be the civil rights issue of our generation. 
  I received this book from the publicist, and I appreciated receiving it because it helped me put my own church's agony into a very personal context.

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