Meet Adele Sakler! Her and I set this interview up to intentionally force a conversation - not a debate - about Christianity and Homosexuality. Her and I's hope is to help those of us conservative minded Christians to at least hear from the 'other' side.
Adele currently resides in Richmond, Virginia and blogs as the Existential Punk and is the creator and site administrator of Queermergent and you can also find her on Twitter as well. She is currently going through long-term treatment for Chronic Lyme Disease, other tick-borne diseases, and heavy metal toxicity.
Adele has been a Christ-follower for 20 years and an “out” queer woman for two and-a-half years. Her involvement with the emerging church and Emergent Village has filled the better part of 10 years. You can listen to a recent interview with Adele on Irreligiosophy and read a recent article she published on The Ooze.
1. Tell us a little about yourself, your partner and what you're up to right now in life.
I have been a Christ-follower for the past 20 years and involved in the emerging church conversation for a better part of the last 10 years or so. I attended
Xavier Universityin , where I was born and raised, getting my BA in Communications/PR & Advertising. I attended Cincinnati, Ohio to pursue an M.Div, but disliked the program due to its overly intellectual focus. I struggled with deep depression and attempted suicide at one point because I was told I would go to hell if I pursued being gay. I then entered the Regent University at Regent and received my MA in Film. In 1997 I moved to Communication School to work in the entertainment industry. In 2002 I moved to Los Angeles Richmond, VAto live with a friend for 5 months to save money before moving to N. Irelandfor 2 years to work with YWAM (Youth With A Mission). I returned to in 2004 really ill and was diagnosed in March 2005 with Chronic Lyme Disease and other tick-borne diseases that I had since I was around 7 years old. In September 2006 I finally came to peace with myself in relation to my sexuality and at peace with G-D. I came out and have been the happiest, most joyful ever in my life. Richmond
I met my partner that following December and we just celebrated 2 years in December. This past October we were married in
before Prop 8 passed. My partner is a wonderful friend and care-giver. She teaches scuba diving, First Aid with the American Red Cross and aquatics classes at a local gym. We have a small travel business that she mostly runs. California
I am currently going through long-term intensive treatment for my Lyme Disease, other tick-borne diseases and heavy metal toxicity. I am unable to work due to the nature of my illness as it affects my energy, joints, muscles and cognitive such as short-term memory loss, word-finding problems, brain fog, etc.
To keep sane I blog, Facebook and Twitter. I am hoping to write my memoir and have some upcoming possibilities of being involved with some other writing possibilities for books.
2. Summarize for us your journey in life up to this point.
I grew up Presbyterian as my mom was an elder in our church. My dad was a non-practicing Jew who only attended our church at Christmas and Easter. My Jewish grandparents paid for me to attend Catholic private schools starting in fifth grade. My father was emotionally and physically abusive and so I saw G-D as a mean old man sitting up in heaven waiting to punish me for every wrong move I made. During my junior year in high school mu father became deathly ill with an incurable cancer. From diagnosis to death, which occurred three weeks before my 17th birthday, was five months. Nearly three months to the day after he died, his parents and grandmother, the Jewish side, were killed in a fire in their home caused by faulty wiring and a faulty alarm system wherein the house was struck by lighting. I complete lost my faith in G-D for over a year until a desire started coming back towards the second half of my senior year. My Catholic high school showed me great love and support and I believe this was the catalyst that drew me towards the Divine once again.
Twenty years ago this month I had a ‘born-again’ experience at a charismatic church where an American missionary to
S. Africawas speaking. Hell was one of the topics being preached, so at the end of the evening I went forward for the altar call to ‘receive’ Jesus into my heart. I did this because I was afraid of going to hell. Thus, I was purchasing my ‘fire insurance’. I attended Pat Robertson’s graduate school in Virginia Beach, , to obtain an M.Div so I could be a youth pastor. I began to seriously look at my life-long struggle of same-sex attractions. The school and my therapist along with my charismatic church back home always communicated that being gay was a sin, a choice, and those who actively pursue it will go to hell. I was shell-shocked and confused. I attempted suicide and spent a month at two different times in a psychiatric hospital. I even did reparative therapy and attended ex-gay ministries to 'pray away the gay', which never worked. Regent University
In 1997 I moved to
and began living a double life as a Christian and as a gay woman. I began to read Brian McLaren and found him writing things I had felt inside but was very afraid to express outwardly to anyone. In 2002 I went to Los Angeles Northern Irelandto do a DTS ( ) with YWAM. I met the great Peter Rollins and we developed a great friendship. His teachings and writings on postmodernism and Christianity radically shaped how I viewed my faith. I could no longer hang onto certainty with regards to interpreting scripture. There were more important things in kingdom living than where we go after we pass from this world to the next, like poverty, AIDS, the environment, etc. About 2.5 years ago I FINALLY came to terms with my sexuality. I found peace with myself and with God. Coming out was fairly painless with the exception of a few people who still think I am in sin and going to hell. I no longer hold this view and I am ok if people think that about me. I hate labels as they are so limiting, but are sometimes a necessary evil. After being a right wing Republican most of my voting life, I now consider myself an independent that leans more liberal than moderate. Discipleship Training School
3. My hope here Adele is that the one side, the more conservative Christian side, can hear from the other side, the more liberal. I think a lot of Christ followers have a hard time understanding how you can say you're a lesbian and actively living that lifestyle and at the same time say you are a follower of Jesus. Explain that.
I do not see being queer anymore a lifestyle than straight people see themselves living a lifestyle. I do not see being queer as a sin and the way I understand and interpret the scriptures used to speak against homosexuality is different. I lived many years thinking and believing the way conservatives view scripture and gay people. Yet, through my journey I have come to the conclusion that those scriptures are taken out of their cultural and historical contexts. I see the Bible as a story of G-D's relationship with people and not a 'how to' manual meant to be used for all time. I cannot help that I am a queer woman and I would have never chosen this way of life due to all the hatred towards us. I could ask all the people who call themselves Christ-followers how they can be Christians when they act so diametrically opposed to Christ with their unloving and hateful actions and attitudes to those they disagree with on whatever issue it mat be. Yet, there is a G-D who love us all unconditionally and extends grace and mercy to us all. I get it more wrong than I do right but I love G-D and Jesus and do my best to follow G-D and Jesus. Could I be wrong? Sure, but I am living my life as best as I can and at the end of the day, it is between me and my maker and nobody else. What gets me though, is how certain many conservatives think they are in their beliefs and interpretations of Scriptures. In my opnion, none of us has a monopoly on what G-D's full intent for our lives is as we only use 10% of our brain capacity. G-D is knowable yet is a mystery too.
4. Many Conservatives believe that you are not born gay, but rather that you are choosing to live a lifestyle that is both unnatural and immoral - what is your response to that kind of thinking?
Heterosexuals do not choose to be heterosexual anymore than gays choose to be gay. I do believe a genetic component is a part of it. Why would I choose to be gay when there is so much hate directed to my community? I look at my being queer as a gift and am happy even though it is a tough road to walk because of all the insensitivities expressed towards us queer people. I think they are uninformed and ought to get to know some gay folks for who they are rather than just pass on simple judgments.
5. My side of the fence, if you will, is constantly being asked to be more open minded, but that is a two way road. I believe you and I can believe fundamentally different things about God but still be in relationship with one another, still be friends. But what do we do to bridge the gap between my beliefs, which sees homosexuality as a sin and yours? How do we both find a middle ground?
I agree we can believe different things and still be friends. I have several conservative friends who have issues with this topic. I respect their beliefs but where the rubber hits the road is that they love me unconditionally and do not hurl insults at me. We agree to disagree. Not everyone has to come to my way of believing and interpreting scriptures. I just ask us all, conservative and liberal, to hold our beliefs loosely and to show respect and love. Just a word of note: Those in the LGBTQ community have often been deeply wounded by hurtful hateful and hypocritical conservatives so we are raw and reactive at times due to this. I think conservatives need to recognize this.
I also think we need to begin looking at the planks in our own eyes rather than looking at the specks in the eyes of others. We need to find common ground and have dialogue from those point of interest. To tell someone they are not a Christian because of X, Y or Z is very unhelpful and extremely arrogant. G-D is the only judge of that issue!
Circular arguments of repeating mantras on either side must stop and true listening must take place. That is where getting to know both sides - real human beings - is very important in my opinion. Tearing each other down gets us nowhere and I think brings Jesus to tears.
6. Another big point of contention, most recently emphasized in Prop 8, is the legalizing and redefining of marriage. Explain your stance on gay marriage and specifically why you think domestic partnership and marriage are not equal.
I am all for gay marriage. Conservatives say we are trying to redefine traditional marriage. Traditional marriage as we know it today was redefined from a long time ago. In Biblical times marriage was where a man owned the woman as property and there was not much love in those relationships. Gay marriage does not threaten marriage but rather strengthens it. We get yelled at by conservatives that we are living together out of wedlock but when we want to marry, we are told we are a threat. How illogical this argument is to me! My wife and I have the same ups and downs, struggles and enjoyments of any married couple. We pay taxes and should have all the same federal benefits as straight married couples. We were married in
in a civil ceremony. To me it is fear and ignorance to say we threaten marriage. Gay marriage has been around for many years in other countries and those countries have not broken down and fallen off the face of the earth. We live in a country where it is NOT a theocracy and where there is separation of church and state. We are all created equal under our nations Constitution and religious entities cannot impose their beliefs on society at large. Domestic partnerships are not offered in every state and where they are offered, differ on the rights afforded people. We must pay attorney's fees in order to get medical directives and power of attorneys and we still do not have the over 1100 Federal rights afforded Heterosexual married couples. States do not have to recognize marriage or domestic partnerships from other states under the federal DOMA (Defense Of Marriage Act). California
Here is a very true but sad story for you to consider: A lesbian couple from
, who have children, had all their ducks in a row with regards to power of attorney, medical directives, etc. They went on a Rosie O'Donnell family cruise leaving out of Washington State . While on the cruise, the one had a stroke and was flown to a hospital in Florida . The partner had her paperwork faxed to the hospital but the hospital would not allow her or their children in to see their family member. The woman ended up dying. If there were federal protections for gays, we would not be having to hear about this very sad story. Florida
A big thank you to Adele for taking the time to answer my questions and for the courage to do this. Please respect Adele, me and yourself and do not leave ignorant, empty or hateful comments. We all need to move from debating to conversing and modeling the Christ we follow - the same Christ who was only ever abrasive and spiteful to the know-it-all folk of His time. No anonymous comments will be accepted on this post - if you don't have anything nice to say, just keep it to yourself.