Mitch and I were thrilled to be interviewed by our friend Vivienne Lin for a piece in Travel Taipei: Undiscovered Taipei, with some wonderful photography by Zenith Lin. In it, we talk about the struggles and rewards of being an interracial couple living in two different countries on the opposite sides of the world. We also highlight some of our favorite places in Taiwan, including some of our favorite snacks — check it out!
- Singing Scientist Podcast
Six A.M. in public.
A public of morning stars and doves
mourning the shame in your heart
is too wide a company, it seems, to risk the witness
of a goodbye kiss.
The arms which held me so tenderly through the night
So it is to that public I will go
to mourn what might have been.
—C.W.N., November 2014
Chase Nelson Relationships, Sexuality, Singing Scientist Podcast, Spirituality 1 Corinthians, Acts, Against Nature, Arsenokoitae, Bible, Blood Guts & Fire, Church, Clobber Passages, Coming Out, Double Standard, Gay, Gay Christian, Gay Marriage, Genesis, Greek, Holiness Code, Homosexual Behavior, Homosexuality, Hypocrisy, Jesus, Leviticus, LGBTQ, Para Physin, Relationsh!t, Relationshit, Religion, Religion and Homosexuality, Rob Bell, Romans, Same-Sex Attraction, Singing Scientist, The Bible and Homosexuality, Translation 0
I thank Marcia Bloemers for her response in “Christians aren’t playing ‘victim’” (Sentinel, June 16). She was not alone in interpreting my words as a personal attack on Seaborn. That was not my intention. I quoted his words as one example, uttered in a public forum, as I might have quoted a book that has influenced the culture of our community.
My purpose was instead to establish two weak claims. The first is that Christians are not generally victims of LGBT people. Yet Seaborn has proclaimed at numerous churches that LGBT people have an “agenda” that will land Christians in jail. This rhetoric accomplishes nothing more than polarization, and inflames attendees already disposed toward hate speech and violence. It serves no one. Instead, regardless of moral opinions, Christians should be taught to advocate for the safety and dignity of victimized LGBT.
The second point is that Christians must not remain silent. LGBT outcry following Orlando is one begging you to hear our plight — a plight that began long before last weekend. Has your church condemned the massacre? Acknowledged the event as an LGBT hate crime? Told a demeaning joke about Saugatuck lately? Contributed to a West Michigan that makes life either miserable or pleasant for us? Some introspection would go a long way.
Bloemers and others also fail to grasp that we have been actively excluded from ministries. Certainly, all people get mistreated — but black people, same-sex couples holding hands, transgendered individuals and many others walk around with targets on their backs. The treatment is disproportionate. Ignorance of this reality is part of what it means to be privileged, and failure on the part of privileged individuals to advocate for the oppressed is a great crime of silence. Holding hands with a same-sex friend downtown might bring some awareness.
Finally, there is the complaint that my letter (“Christians can stop playing cultural victim,” Sentinel June 14) was divisive. Jesus’ own message was apparently so offensive that it put him on a cross, so I myself make no apologies for stating some difficult truths. I believe a conversation has started that holds potential for bringing change. If my letter may be considered a less egregious offense than the murder of 50 people last weekend, let us hope that pulpits across West Michigan shall address current events this coming Sunday by condemning violence, advocating for LGBT rights and considering how they might help to ensure our safety — not painting us as oppressors.
Chase W. Nelson
Originally published in The Holland Sentinel.
In the wake of the Orlando shooting, I am reminded of a sermon once if not often given by Dan Seaborn in which he proclaims that homosexuality is wrong, and further expresses the fear that he might very well be put in prison some day for having said so.
Saturday night’s events expose the utter nonsense these words represent as they issue forth from the lips of a white Protestant male in West Michigan. And while Seaborn’s public words invite a specific response, it is this community at large, and those like it, that have allowed anti-gay sentiments to fester, take root and grow ultimately into the kind of deeply entrenched hate witnessed by all of us who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. The indoctrination has finally been mistaken for conscience by its recipients.
Over a hundred men were shot on Saturday, with 50 dead; Seaborn and like-minded men of privilege have so far seen no jail time. The roles in this story are clear. For Christians to play the victim in a “culture war” that has us LGBT folks worried for our physical safety is not only preposterous, it is profoundly anti-Christian. Christians may be persecuted elsewhere, but not much in America, and certainly not in Holland.
That the culture increasingly expresses disagreement with some fundamentalist dogmas should not be interpreted as persecution; it should be interpreted as disagreement. The disproportionately hateful treatment and murder of minorities in America makes this difference clear to any objective observer.
Why say so? Because the blood is on the hands of any and all who fail to act — who do not stand up for “the least of these.” There are the parents whose child blurted “faggot” at me on Eighth Street some months ago; no correction was given. There are the churches who have failed to protect me or else actively excluded me because I am gay; no one cared to call afterward. There are the daily unfriendly stares and avoidance of men whose own masculinity is apparently so delicate that a measure of insult is required to ensure its safe preservation; I am sometimes sure to leave in a crowd to guarantee my safety.
These, friends, are the promulgators of hate, or else the bystanders at the trial of the innocent who say nothing. You have seen the fruits. But will you change the tree?
Chase W. Nelson
Originally published in The Holland Sentinel.
Through the lyrics of Sammy Cahn, Jule Styne tells us that “Saturday night is the loneliest night of the week.” The original implication seems to be that the loneliness is a result of heartbreak and lost love, that we are passive victims in our plight. Yet it seems to me that we have ignored a cause of loneliness more strong and more difficult to change—and one which results not from an unfortunate circumstance such as rejection, but rather from a person’s own self-actualization. In this I am referring to driven people who, along with Avenue Q’s Princeton, “gotta find my purpose”: Christians who read The Purpose-Driven Life; musicians who must practice; scholars who must read. Such individuals—perhaps they’re all introverts—find hope and renewal in the practice of their discipline, not in the shooting of the breeze. They may fail miserably, as I do, in much of the magic they attempt; but they recognize that to be an artist requires, at the start, to be a bad one, and they heed the voice in their soul which bids them create.
I am, of course, describing what I feel to be my own predicament—and, moreover, with no intention of judgment whatsoever. Let others have their clubs, their dancing, and their drinks. I will have mine too on rare occasion. But more often, much more, my psyche drips with a palpable and urgent sense of purpose. It is true that I am lonely. But I’ve sat with a wine under the neon lights before; it holds nothing for me. My soul desires, in the words of G. K. Chesterton, “expansion, a world to stretch” myself in. Yet I find myself in a world where there seem to be no others who hope to do so, or at least none who wish to do so with me. Free time is for tele, free time is for couch, free time is for cookie—so screams the world around me.
In a passage which I cannot now find, Richard Miller tells us that every day is a training day for the serious singer. There is no doubt that I err on the side of workaholism, that some of the neurosis lies with me, and that I take this advice to the extreme; science, writing, exercise, ballet, and voice every single day leaves little time for much else. I do it because I believe it to be my calling, my contribution to the world. But surely I am not the one-hundredth percentile. Surely someone else considers their leisure time an opportunity, not for inaction but rather action. Every moment is an opportunity to per-fect the pirouette, to sing the high C, to sculpt one’s mind and abilities so that, at long last, one might have some chance of expressing their heart to the world as only a human being can—creatively, passionately, with excellence. In solitary confinement, I read the wisdom of times gone by and wonder about the existence of others who share this heart.
Holland, MI — My Nov. 8 letter claimed that the Christian response to LGBT individuals in Holland is insane and ignorant. While I am thankful for Lewis Dekker’s thoughtful response, his words still call to mind that familiar thump.
Mr. Dekker cites theologian John Piper on Romans 1. The 1998 sermons rely heavily on the words “against nature” – para physin in the Greek – and assume a moral implication. However, the same Greek phrase is used elsewhere to describe both God’s act of Gentile inclusion (Rom. 11:24) and men who grow long hair (1 Cor. 11:14). It is synonymous with “unusual,” not “against God.” A single good book on the subject is sufficient to expunge ignorance of such well-known facts, but most Hollanders appear not to have invested the time. Withholding civil rights in the workplace, however, seems to them a worthy investment.
As usual, one can make a strong case for several understandings of a text that doesn’t speak for itself, in English or in Greek. That is why the myopic view must be superseded by a Spirit-based view. This same Spirit has, despite tradition, accepted interracial marriage and women like Beth Moore (who does, in fact, speak in church). Thus, while Piper’s sermons call LGBT individuals to change or else celibacy, lifelong loneliness and suicide are well-documented phenomena on this path, and hardly represent God’s Spirit. Beyond the audacity of a married man extolling celibacy, it is obvious that it is “not good for man to be alone” (words that God uttered even before the Fall). Gay Christian role models are now what is sorely needed, yet it is Christians who withhold them from this generation.
Finally, the tone of my letter is hardly anti-Biblical. “Turn from your ways before it’s too late” represents a major portion of the Hebrew text, and Jesus’ intolerance of his own Biblical authorities resulted in throwing things. Yes, it is difficult to shed a lifetime of indoctrination and anti-LGBT propaganda – but Christians are running out of excuses. It has come time to heed Gamaliel’s advice, “lest you be found to fight against God.”
Chase W. Nelson
LETTER published as “Spirit calls us to acceptance” in The Holland Sentinel on 21 November 2013.
Holland, MI — It is difficult to overstate the irony of the Christian response to LGBT individuals in this city. Holland maintains a stubborn ignorance of the ways in which the Bible has been used to justify every manner of discriminatory political agenda. Beyond this classic case of aspect blindness, the English text remains idolized above the Living God, faithfully propagating what Peter Gomes has termed “bibliolatry.”
Many Holland churches go even further, actively working to de-convert the LGBT in their congregations. It goes like this: Any LGBT individual with the spiritual authenticity to come out is immediately banned from any public role whatsoever. For those of us with gifts such as leadership, music and public speaking, this practice renders us unable to pursue our ministries.
This trend of exclusion is why so many LGBT individuals with leadership talents end up secular: because of Christians. Turned away from the place we desire to serve, where else can we go? As Walker Percy has written, “One might even become a Christian if there were few if any Christians around.”
LGBT Christians: Read Romans 1. It simply does not describe you or the love that you seek in this life. Do not be distracted by the devastating lie that love is not for you, as I was for so many years. Instead, use your time in this city as a “dark night of the soul” in which you hone your gifts and grow amidst persecution. God will provide direction for finding a beautiful love and calling.
Anti-LGBT Christians: Your disproportionately apoplectic reaction to this city’s tiny LGBT community is not sane. You continue to cause the little ones to stumble, to prey on the oppressed, and to turn away the hungry. “Lord, Lord” on your lips, you nevertheless avoid the spiritual life and fail to know the Savior you claim. Heed the voice of God before it is too late — for you.
Chase W. Nelson
lover greets me at the keys of
bed and breakfast by the breeze.
Words on paper
pen and ink
fill the days with thought and God;
and passion work,
as two souls greet and jointly trod.
sharing mind and body sweet; now
the solitude I hope you meet.