Author Archive: benjaminjanderson

About benjaminjanderson

I am a follower of Christ who comes from an Anabaptist Christian heritage. I would like to embody the gospel of peace and reconciliation for all people.


You may have seen news lately about different countries considering new harsher penalties for sodomy or whatever language they might choose. It’s happening in Russia, Uganda, Nigeria and Kenya and I’m sure many other places.

These days in the US many queer folk are tracking the lawsuits in each state that are striking down the same-sex marriage bans. It’s exciting for sure and I look forward to June of this year when all consenting adults will finally be able to marry here in Illinois.

In the midst of all this though I see news stories of a strong trend in the opposite direction in many other parts of the world. When I see a young man accused of homosexuality being tried and beaten to death in the streets by a vigilante mob I’m shocked! I never worry about this happening to me when I step outside my home in Chicago. While there are parts of this country I worry that I might be physically harmed for being gay I never expect to be put to death due to my sexuality.

The disturbing thing about these laws is that the consequence imposed by the government for breaking these laws is meaningless. The reality is that that people accused of homosexuality may never make it to court and if they do they may even be killed in the courtroom. This is how intense the homophobia is in some countries.

When I read the article about what happened in Nigeria my mind went certain places and I suspect that many people’s minds and hearts do the same. I think about how terrible these people are. I wonder how they can do these awful things. How does someone cultivate this kind of hatred and violence in their heart? Finally I become indignant! (more…)

Fierce and Fabulous

Who knew queer anabaptists had such great stories. When I was sitting on the South Shore Line on my way to the BMC retreat I had no idea what to expect from the weekend.

“The BMC”, as it is commonly called, is short for The Brethren Council on Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Interests. I know the name is long and very forgettable but the people who are part of the BMC definitely aren’t . This year the BMC celebrated 35 years of fierceness and fabulousness. That’s nine years longer than I’ve been alive. Some of the people I met this weekend were advocating for LGBT inclusion before I knew I was gay and even before I was born. For over three decades these people’s voices have been silenced by both Mennonite and Brethren denominations and yet they keep working, keep advocating, and most surprisingly they keep laughing.

The laughing part is what most surprised me; these people have some painful stories to tell but they also have some absolutely hysterical ones. Everyone had stories to tell and so many of these stories resulted in hearty laughter. Whether it’s an awkward coming out story or taking a family picture in plain drag, these queer folk have some amazing stories. (more…)

DADT: Why I’m Surprised

So I’m a Christian, a Mennonite: anti-war, anti-violence, anti-military. My Dad would say I’m a good liberal Mennonite (since those two words are, in his mind, synonymous) but I’m also gay. So I was surprised when I watched the video on YouTube entitled “Telling my dad I am gay- Live” (see below) and I was excited for the guy. Sure it’s not strange that I’d be excited to hear a guy, heart racing, scared to death, come out to his Dad and that I’d be even more excited when I heard his Dad say the words “I still love you” and “this doesn’t change our relationship”. The part that surprised me was that I was such a big fan even though this guy is in the military.

I have to admit that since I became convinced of Anabaptist theology sometime after college I’ve never been a fan of any man in the military. In fact I cringe at the thought and I’m very uncomfortable around such people. Even still on Wednesday when I watched this video I was thrilled and encouraged. To be fair my reaction had little to do with the fact that he’s a soldier and more to do with the response he received but nonetheless I became a fan of a soldier.


What’s Next?

I really enjoy YAR. There are great discussions about great things here, they are intriguing and they make us think. But what’s next. Do we just continue to talk about these things and hope that some day our churches and our communities will change? Or do we do something. I would love it if we could start discussions about practical ways in which we can do these things we have discussed. But of course, not stop there implement these things in our churches and communities and then report back on YAR how God is working. In this way we can honor our heritage as radical Anabaptists and continue to reform the church in the 21st century.