A Letter to the Gay Community
From a Christian Perspective on How to Do This Better
First, about me. I am 60-year old heterosexual Christian woman, married to the same man for 40+ years. We have two grown children and 1 granddaughter (so far). I am a basic normal average citizen of the USA, and I generally vote Republican.
Hold on. There’s more.
To add even more fuel to the fire, when I was 16, I wrote a 10-page hand-written report on the illegality of homosexuality in the US. Yup, I did. And there was no lack of resources to fill up that bibliography (that was 1968, for goodness sake!!)! Add to it, that for decades I heard nothing from the church except validation of the same.
So now that you have judged that picture of me, and put me in the appropriate box so your target will be clearer…hear me out.
Over the past 10 years, I have worked hard on deepening my faith, to clarify what it means to be a follower of Jesus, and exactly what that means to this issue. And here it is…
I don’t care if you’re gay. I really don’t. And there are many Christians who feel this way. We don’t care who you sleep with. We just don’t.
This may sound different than what the media says of us Christians — you know, the ones they target who live in “that” box. In fact, it may sound like outright lies to you. But you would be wrong.
Mine is a faith that believes in a God, who came to earth to show us how to love each other. Jesus ate with some pretty wretched people. He touched the untouchables; he gave a widow back her son from the dead so she wouldn’t go hungry; he saved an adultress from a stoning; he honored those who gave of their lack; he encouraged all to ‘sin no more.’
And, most importantly, ‘he looked on them with love.’ All (all means ALL) of them. To the point of dying for them.
I beg that you stop putting all Christians in a box so that you can blame us, or judge us, or berate us. Isn’t that we many of us have done to you for too long? I know payback’s a bitch, but it also serves no productive purpose.
This is your life you are leading. Yours. We have all been created by God with equal amounts of crap to deal with. I won’t dump my penchant for being a prideful controlling bitch on you, if you stop dumping your need for acceptance because of who you sleep with on me.
Tolerance. That’s what we need more of.
Hear me out. Don’t jump off too quickly.
If Jesus was here when I was writing that paper in high school, I think he would have been sitting in the gay bathhouses of New York City. I think he would have been walking around the seedy side of your town, talking to drug dealers and prostitutes and transgenders, and telling them that he loved them. Even if they didn’t change.
He would be in suburbia and on the metros, and in the countryside. He would sit with Democrats, Republicans and even Tea-Partyers (gasp!)!
Jesus just didn’t care about all the ire that these labels bring out. He just wanted to show them how to love each other, even if they disagreed with each other. He wanted to show them how to have tolerance in the face of such disagreement.
My friend Gary taught me the most about this five years ago. His story was so new to me, my intolerance thundering in my ears as he told me what his life had been like as a gay man. I remember thinking how embarrassed I was to say I was a Christian, yet had showed complete indifference to the gay community; more of an ignoring, than an active discrimination. But then Gary happened, and all of my comfortable Christian passivity went out the window.
It wasn’t so much that I was confronted with what I thought of homosexuality, as much as being slapped hard in the face with what this Christian love was really all about. Have I ever shown it to people outside the bubble of the church? Can I really love someone who I don’t ’get’ at all? It really became a crisis in faith for me. Was I really going to be a Christian like Jesus taught, or just a rule-follower of my denomination? (Those can be very, very different ways to live!!)
A few years later, on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, Gary and I had a discussion that changed it all. I remember the discussion vividly. We sat in his office and with tears in our eyes talked of those people desperately jumping out of the windows of the WTC before it collapsed. Out of the blue, he asked me if God loved him, if he would go to heaven even though he was gay. Without a moment’s hesitation, I told him that God loved him deeply, and if he believed in God, that he would indeed go to heaven. It was a moment that solidified our friendship. But it did more than that.
It solidified my faith. I really do believe that Gary is fiercely loved and pursued by God, just as I am. So when I say I care, I do. And many other Christians do as well.
I spent decades as a Christian, bathed in the words of that report that I wrote so many years ago, readily accepting the legalistic view of homosexuality that preachers were teaching. So if, a couple decades ago, you stuck me in that box with all those other Christian gay-haters who have hurt you before, I would have belonged. But that was a couple decades ago.
It’s different now. For me. And for many Christians. We have seen the damage that our intolerance has done to the church, to the image of Jesus. And there are tons and tons of us who have drawn the line. Now. No more.
You can’t hear us because we are not shouting at you. Anymore. And even if we were shouting you don’t want to hear us. Just as the shouters drove you away, you won’t risk being hurt again especially by those who returned only hypocrisy when you looked for tolerance, when you looked for love.
You want us to readily — and here comes the big close — accept you. That may never happen. Just as you may never accept what many believe the Bible says about homosexuality.
But there can be tolerance, and that’s a two-way street.
Tolerance can only work when we see each other through nonjudgmental eyes. Taking off the blinders of Christian legalism and past hurts, and seeing what God sees in each of us. Just a bunch of his beloved flawed ones.
We can share a tolerance for each other that defies all of the past. There can be a new way to see all of this through eyes of tolerance, even if you will never accept our viewpoint, or us yours.
Acceptance. Tolerance. There’s a difference. The first demands a change in belief, in faith; the other demands — it screams for — love.
Do not ask us to accept what we can’t, and we’ll do the same. But please demand from us what Jesus taught — to love you anyway. To show you tolerance in the face of confusion. Yours and ours.
‘And he looked on them with love.’