Friday, March 29, 2013

Against My Better Judgment


I've spent the past week thinking that social media is not the place to discuss the issue of same-sex marriage (SSM) because it perpetuates one of my biggest pet peeves: civil discourse being reduced to two opposing sides lobbing soundbites (or red equal signs, as the case may be) at each other, without actually having any productive discussion.

I appreciated one friend who used her Facebook status to encourage folks to talk about these important issues face-to-face instead. That was going to be my sole approach, except tonight I've got some things weighing on my mind so heavily that I feel compelled to post them. Compelled, but nervous. Hence the title.


Hurt people hurt people


I've been discovering lately that when I don't feel heard or understood, I get defensive. When this happens in the midst of conflict or disagreement, whoo buddy, I can lash out with some nasty stuff. The funny thing is, being heard and understood must be more important to me than being right, because once I feel truly understood I can back down, even if the matter at hand hasn't been settled.

Another funny phenomenon is that when I'm in that defensive state because I don't feel heard or understood, I tend to defend myself using arguments that are close to—but not quite at the heart of—what I feel, think or believe. (There are probably several reasons for this, including me not being conscious of or able to articulate which bits of the issue are the most tender for me.) These one-off arguments sidetrack the discussion, which leads to me feeling more desperate about not being heard or understood and, well, you can see where that spiral staircase leads.

I think that's what bugs me about the same-sex marriage debate I'm watching on in social media land. We're in a conversation that gets at some of the deepest stuff in us. Our identity. Our sexuality. Our faith. Our hopes and dreams for the future. And we're talking with folks who disagree with us. And I'm pretty sure neither side feels heard or understood by the other. But, gosh, it would take some major vulnerability to say what's really at stake here. It's far safer to stick with sound bites and arguments that are just a tiny bit removed from what's really bothering us.

I think it's time to say what's really bothering us.

An Admittedly Limited Perspective


This next part comes with a big disclaimer. I know it's dangerous to make the kind of generalizations I'm about to make. It requires labeling groups of people and lumping them together when they might not appreciate being lumped. Please read this as a discussion starter (and give me feedback!) and not as an attempt at "the final word."

I've spent the past 8 or so years trying to listen well to the LGBT community. Some of those folks are as dear to me as life itself. I am probably better at the "reading between the lines" kind of listening than I am at the "asking really good questions" kind of listening. I want to get better at both.

And of course, I am deeply immersed in conservative, evangelical Christianity (though I prefer it when people use verbs like "follow Jesus" rather than nouns and adjectives to describe their identification with Christ), so I hope I have also heard that community well.

What I'd like to attempt is spelling out a few things that I've heard from each "side" of the argument that are not finding their way into the public conversation, in hopes of making all of our conversations, public and private, more helpful. 

What the LGBT Community Needs Christians to Hear


Whew. Typing that sub-head almost made me hyperventilate. Please know that the only reason I'm venturing to speak for you is because I'm hoping to make your voice heard by a Christian community that isn't hearing it very well right now. Here goes...

I didn't choose my desires.

When you think about it, nobody chooses his or her desires. Desire feels like something that happens to us. So telling a gay person, "homosexuality is a choice," feels like the ultimate write-off. This is why the he or she might come back with, "So, when did you choose to be straight?" It's as stupid a question for the gay person as it is for the straight person. Let's at least give the same respect we expect from others and admit that desire is a mysterious, powerful force that comes upon us and sometimes overtakes us, rather than something we choose. 

When you casually suggest celibacy as a "solution," you're not being fair. 

Christians like to hand out easy answers to hard questions. Answers like, "Well, just be celibate," as if that's no biggie. And if same-sex-attracted person protests, Christians like to point out that God requires celibacy of all unmarried people and monogamy of all married people, so we're all in the same boat, ya know? Except we're not. 

Within those bounds, the married heterosexual has a regular opportunity for sex with someone he/she is attracted to, the unmarried heterosexual has a future opportunity for sex with someone he/she is attracted to, and the homosexual has no opportunity (that he/she can see) for sex with someone he/she is attracted to. Do not blow that off. Think about what that means for the hopes and dreams of the gay person you're talking to. And stop tossing around the word celibacy like confetti. 

When I stop struggling against my desires and I finally identify as gay or lesbian, I need you to know how exhausted I am. 

For many in the LGBT community, and especially for those who grew up in the church, there is a period of intense struggle against same-sex desires (sometimes to the point of suicidality) before identifying as gay or lesbian. When the struggle is over and they finally come out, there can be a huge sense of relief. Christians, for some reason, choose this time to jump all over them for betraying their faith, hardening their hearts or walking away from God (even if they haven't). Instead, could we imagine what it's like to fight that battle for months or years and offer some compassion for the state of emotional exhaustion they're in?

I may or may not be interested in achieving the Bible's standards for sexuality. 

Do you know how many times the average gay person has heard that he or she is "an abomination"? Or worse, that "God hates fags"? I don't know, but I bet it's a bunch. And those are the kinds of hurtful words that end up repeating themselves over and over inside the gay person's head, so the effect is multiplied. 

Yes, the Bible does call homosexual activity a sin. (No, it does not say, anywhere, that God hates fags. And I wish God would strike Fred Phelps with lightning for making people think it does.) Every gay Christian has had to wrestle with the passages that count homosexual activity as sin. (Genesis 19:1-11; Leviticus 18:22; Leviticus 20:13; Judges 19:16-24; 1 Kings 14:24; 1 Kings 15:12; 2 Kings 23:7; Romans 1:18-32; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; 1 Timothy 1:8-10; Jude 7.) But the gays who aren't Christians? They don't really care. So it probably doesn't help to quote the Bible at them. So stop. 

OK, sarcasm over. And yes, I was sarcastic about stupid things Christians do because I am one of them. Hey, it works for Jon Acuff

Things Christians need the LGBT Community to Hear


To my gay and lesbian friends and family, if I have done you any kind of justice with what I wrote above, maybe you'll decide it's worth reading this part too. If not, please let me know in the comments how I could have done better. 

Now for part 2: 

The hope of deep transformation is at the core of my Christian faith. 

I get defensive when you say that Exodus International is bogus, that ex-gays are liars, or that reparative therapy is necessarily harmful. And it's not so much because I want you to change as that I need to have hope for change in myself. I battle sinful desires every day, and I find hope in the Scripture passages that tell me God can change me from what I was to what he made me to be, and that he will be faithful to complete the work he starts in me. I know you might not believe in that kind of transformation, or you might not want it, or you might not think it applies in your situation, but please don't speak in a way that belittles my hope that God is in the business of taking away my heart of stone and giving me a heart of flesh

I can't, in good conscience, change the way I read Scripture. 

I referred earlier to those pesky verses in Scripture that forbid homosexual sex. Sometimes I wish they would just go away. That would make it so much easier to help my gay friends and family feel loved, because there wouldn't be the tension of "I love you, but I think what you're doing is wrong." Because truly, that is just awkward, all the time.

But I can't make them go away. What I mean by that is this: my underlying assumption when I read Scripture is that I need to read it honestly and submit to it readily, allowing myself to be mastered by it. That sounds like bondage, but the unbelievable mystery of the gospel is that obedience is the ultimate freedom. (Oh, how I wish I could help every single person who has never experienced this to do so!) I'm sure it's why John Donne wrote
Take me to you, imprison me, for I
Except you 'enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.
For the most part, when I explained to folks in the LGBT community how I struggle with this tension, they don't want me to violate my own conscience and read just those parts of the Bible with a different standard than I do the rest of it. (That feels both spiritually and intellectually dishonest to them, the same as it does to me.) So I'm not including this here because I've felt resistance to this idea from the LGBT community, but because for most of them it's been a brand new idea when I've brought it up, so I think it's worth making note of in a larger forum.

And finally,

The law has deep psychological effects on the citizens it governs. 

I'll be honest. It's hard to come up with an answer to the question, "What will my same-sex marriage do to harm your heterosexual marriage?" The truth is, probably nothing. And the truth is, I'm not really concerned about that. (I think it's an example of the one-off arguments I talked about earlier.) But let me redirect slightly and show you what I am concerned about: When we make something legal, people begin to think it's moral. They just do. Think slavery. Or abortion. 

I'm not arguing about whether those things are moral, I'm just pointing out that when they were legalized, many, many more people considered them moral. And many more people practiced them. I think we can agree that that's the likely trajectory with same-sex marriage as well. But the truth is, we don't know what effect same sex marriage and parenting will have on society. So we ought to be sober and honest about the possibility that the effects will be negative. Even Jonathan Rauch thinks so, and he's an advocate for same-sex marriage. (Rauch believes that SSM should be tried in limited areas, and if good research shows the effects to be negative for society, it should be discontinued.) I guess what I'm asking for here is for the LGBT community not to make a straw man of my concern about legalizing SSM.

So What? Now What?


I'm pretty sure I didn't solve anything here. I wasn't really trying to. I'm simply hoping that these thoughts will help break the cycle of people just yelling at each other and not understanding each other. 

Even if that happens, we'll still have a long way to go, because our nation is deeply divided on a subject that matters very much. But at least we'll be doing so in a way that isn't quite as damaging. 

What do you think? No matter which side of the issue you're on, I want to know if I accurately described things you've felt as you've participated in or observed this week's nationwide debate. Let the comments fly. 



[April 2, 2013 update: Since this post was written, comments here and on my Facebook page have prompted two follow-up posts. One on how I read the Bible and one on what I did wrong in this post. Just in case those are helpful.]

18 comments:

  1. Thank you. As a straight christian with many, many gay friends in as many different places along their journeys, this was refreshing in its honest 'everything on the table'-ness.

    Like most reconciliation and relationship, I think the discussion is less helpful when it is about what is "right," and more helpful when it is about being right to each other.

    Thanks again.

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  2. There is a verse in the NT that I've read as an adult that states, "Slaves, obey your masters..." Don't ask me the verse now because I am literally exhausted and don't have the energy to find it. But, my point is, we don't take that literally. We do not read that passage and say ok, slaves, slaves are ok. God, our Father, is so creative and the master of all art and creativity...it shows in the earth, in animals, in relationships, in us. So, if we understand God as the complex all-mighty entity that He is, and when we read verses like the one I noted above we force our minds to expand and contemplate and work out our faiths with fear and trembling. We do that and we realize that we were not meant to have slaves and that verse was meant for a different time and circumstances. Why can we not take into consideration biblical culture and consider the audiences of the original text when we contemplate the verses on homosexuality? Why can we not, knowing the limitless love of our father, really consider these verses to be geared more towards the sexual activities that really are destructive: rape, pedophilia, orgies, one night stands, pornography. Where are all those verses? I went to a Christian college and in my gospel and acts class we were each given verses to perform an exegesis on. I had the one about throwing pearls to swine... It doesn't make sense does it? NO, because although the word of God is an infallible message, in the later centuries things have been lost in translation. Just think about that.

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  3. I loved this. Every single part. I feel like you reached into my heart and spoke for me. As a Christian, there is often the pressure to condemn certain "sins", especially when they are so forefront and political. But what about your LGBT friends and family that you LOVE. I mean genuinely LOVE. How do you embrace your journey with Jesus and still reach out to them with the love that you feel? There is this internal battle with right vs wrong where no one seems to allow room for middle ground. And that tears at your heart. It's painful. And I think that so many people focus the scripture and the sin. But they forget Jesus. Jesus loved everyone. Jesus didn't hate anyone. Including "fags" ( I hate that phrase as much as you do ). As much as the LGBT community struggles with understanding and the attacks by so many Christians, I think there, too, are many Christians struggling to find a place of love while still remaining true to their faith. Especially with this issue. And
    Thank you for your honest words. They really spoke to my heart today.

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  4. Great post, and thanks for sharing!

    -Alex Hoekstra

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  5. I was talking with my husband about this topic the other day, and though we discussed things more specifically, you did touch a bit on something that concerned me most... the idea that we have no idea what the consequences of THIS choice (SSM) would be. And let’s face it there are consequences to everything we do. And there can be many we don't see/experience immediately. Rauch may have a good idea, but I think we need to consider the fact that we may not see negative effects for many, many years.

    When reading the part about desires... I thought about my own... mostly the ones I struggle with as a Christian in this fallen world. I can certainly relate to any person who has ever experienced that... and if more were honest they could too.

    Ultimately, I deeply appreciated your writting. I believe it covered the most important parts to both sides. Thank you for taking the time to put this out here. I will be sharing this.

    -MJ Stripling


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  6. Very much appreciate your post, also your insights into defensiveness and how that creates a challenging situation for honest and productive discussion was excellent!

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  7. Very good. I wish we all had the hearts and the patience to pursue conversations like this.
    Also, something I try to express about celibacy (because of the beliefs I hold) - it is not limited to homosexuals. I personally know those who have chosen because of personal conviction (and struggle daily) and I know those who are divorced and, because of their convictions about the Bible and what it says on divorce, cannot remarry in good conscience...though they never chose to be in that position. Celibacy shouldn't be treated as a light thing, so I want those who are in the position of sacrificing something so large and so integral and so personal to know that they are not alone.

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  8. To start out some discussion points, I'd like to respond to two of your comments on both sides of the argument. 1. The hope of deep transformation is at the core of my Christian faith. 2. The law has deep psychological effects on the people it governs.

    Starting with the point about Exodus International, and the reluctance of LGBT people to acknowledge that people do change. If LGBT people are to acknowledge the fluidity of romantic attraction and sexual behavior (multiple scientific studies - beyond the Kinsey study - have found that not all people are 100% heterosexual or homosexual, but somewhere in between those), then they should be more willing to embrace the idea that "gay people" can "change" into "heterosexual people" and live happy and productive lives.

    I think that the LGBT community reacts to things like Exodus International, reparative therapy, etc., out of their own experience of going to that organization looking for peace or harmony or God's forgiveness, but what they got was more reason to be self-condemning for something they can't change, something that they have prayed IN EARNEST DESPERATION for God to change them, and it only made gave them the opposite of what they sought.

    I would add something to your list. For many LGBT people, they have not given up on Biblical values. In fact, many of my LGBT friends identify with their Christian identity moreso than their sexual orientation or gender identity. To them, their sexuality or gender identity is just one small facet of who they are, but their religious identity is at the core of who they are. So, I would say that a message that the LGBT community wants Christians to hear is that LGBT people are born-again Christians, too!

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  9. To address my second point, about how the law has deep psychological effects. You know that gay people are currently living together as if they were married, right? Gay marriage is legal in several states in the USA, and in several countries across the world. So we can use their current realities and make some logical assumptions about what might happen to the morality of our country if gay marriage were acceptable.

    And before I go any further on this, we have to remember that we cannot assume CAUSALITY by ASSOCIATION. What I mean by that is if gay marriage is legal in the same year that violent crime rates are higher, can we say that gay marriage caused violent crimes to increase? No, we can't. We can only say with certainty that they both happened at the same time. Just like we can't say that in the year that Focus on the Family was founded, sexual assault increased by 7%, so Focus on the Family's founding caused an increase in sexual assault. Of course we wouldn't say that. They are simply two events that happen to coincide with each other. The problem with claiming causality is that you can't rule out other factors that might have also caused the event. In the case of gay marriage and violent crime, there is also an economic down-turn, so perhaps it was the economy that caused higher crime rates. Also, there is less room in prisons, so perhaps more criminals are staying on the streets, so that's why crime is higher. Or perhaps there was something in the water that caused people to be more violent. We don't know which factor caused what. It's called "confounding variables" - meaning, you can't rule out the possibility that other factors contributed to the cause of some event. (Disclaimer: all the "factors" and "percentages" above were just hypothetical and I made them up for the purpose of explaining "causality". If someone really insists on having some real examples, I'm happy to do so but I have to admit that I don't have the time to do so right now). So, if we use the examples of these other states and countries that already have gay marriage, we can see that gay marriage has not had apocalyptic moral consequences for the people living there.

    So, given that we have some perfectly good examples of what might happen if gay marriage were lawful, then we can rule out your point about how we don't know the moral consequences of gay marriage. Instead, why don't we go with what we do know? It is good for people to commit loyally to each other, in sickness and health, in riches and poverty, etc. So we can probably all agree that it is good for people to get married. Gay people have and always will live together, and no law will change that. But it is good for gay people to commit to each other in marriage, because marriage is good for everyone! So it seems that there could be GOOD moral consequences for gay marriage, but likely FEW - if any - bad moral consequences for it.

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  10. As for the red square and pink equal sign, and what prompted your post to begin with.... DOMA.
    Now, let's be clear about what will be the result if the Supreme Court strikes down DOMA. Nothing. If the Supreme Court strikes down DOMA, that does not mean that the courts are writing gay marriage into the constitution. What it means is that the Supreme Court is giving power back to the States to decide for themselves what marriage is or is not. The whole argument against DOMA was brought about by a widow who had to pay estate taxes for her inheritance from her partner only because her state (New York) legally acknowledged their same-sex marriage, but the federal government did not. She was married in the eyes of New York state law, so she avoided the state estate tax. But she was not married in the eyes of the federal government, so she was required to pay over $300,000 in taxes! If DOMA is decided to be unconstitutional, then the federal government would have no business in charging the widow for estate taxes, because her marriage would be legal as per her state. If she were to live in another state (say, North Carolina), then there would be no case against DOMA because NC does not offer same-sex marriage rights, nor does it recognize any same-sex marriage or civil union from another state.

    But one thing that I have to clearly disagree with is that we don't know what consequence gay parents will have on society. There are numerous studies (I can provide references if requested) that show that children of gay parents are developmentally no different than children of heterosexual parents. Some studies even suggest that children of gay parents are better equipped for living a good life than those of heterosexual parents. So, let's go ahead and say that we DO know how gay parenting will impact the morality of society - it hasn't caused any negative consequences, and has possibly contributed positively to the moral fabric of society.

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  11. Dear Lindy -- Coming from a long line of born-again evangelicals, I appreciated being led to your post by Andrew and Sarabeth (Adopting James). I have written him how I valued his honest thoughts re: feeling compelled, but nervous in sharing your post. I also share in his lack of excitement for opposing sides lobbing grenades at the others camp with respect to the SSM topic. Writing in the same spirit of fostering a more authentic understanding, permit me to share a link to something I shared on the scriptural element. With zero desire to overwhelm anyone with links to any number of posts speaking to my own journey, permit me to share just one (http://dan4kent.wordpress.com/2012/05/12/bully-pulpit/).
    In closing, thank you for permitting me the opportunity to lower the volume being generated from so many different quarters. I value the opportunity to share some of the spirit fire I carry with you. The Golden Rule has never been more relevant. Humbly offered. Dan

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  12. Hi, and thanks for your post. I agree with you in general--discussion, of the type without polarization, is a great thing! I love hearing you speak about face-to-face conversations with those we may disagree with: they are exponentially better at deepening this type discussion. Some of those times, in discussion, are to be savored--that feeling of true dialogue is heavenly. :)

    So, I'd like to discuss something in your post that I would like to elaborate on with you.

    ***

    If I understand correctly, you want this to be the case: a piecemeal approach that very much studies and deliberates on the pros and cons of SSM. However, I disagree with you (though please discuss with me--that's what's this is for!).
    Consider this quote, 'tis long (I apologize!):

    "There is a larger point, however, that can be lost in the debate over how to read the data. There is no basis in the recent history of American social policy for testing the parenting skills of a class of citizens before we grant them permission to parent — or to marry. Given all the research on the hardships of children raised by single parents, there is still no movement to preemptively remove kids from broken homes after every divorce or to ban single people from having kids; such policies would be patently inhumane and unenforceable. Growing up in poverty increases the risk of a wide range of social and psychological ills, yet since the craze for eugenics died down, no one is proposing banning poor people from marriage or child rearing. And some ethnic and racial groups are statistically less likely to get or stay married, yet there is no ethnic litmus test for marriage or parenting — only a gay one."

    I think that is how I would discuss it with you, should we have a real discussion, you and me. I'm pretty nice, too. :)

    America is a great experiment--always has been.

    To finish a long reply:

    "America’s story is one of constantly tackling the big—the biggest—problems, ahead of everyone else, with very little to guide us but those founding principles that nag at our conscience. And each time we’ve made progress, extending civil rights to more and more people, it’s been because that old spirit of taking a gamble, of performing the ultimate experiment, took over and led us to the right decision.

    As we think today about what divides Americans, I think it boils down to the fact that some Americans no longer want to experiment. They want to close the lab down. We’ve gone far enough into the unknown, making it known, they say; now let’s stop—let’s even go backward. We were wrong to conduct some of our experiments in liberty, and that’s the source of all our problems. Gay people shouldn’t be treated equally. Black people shouldn’t run the country. Women shouldn’t hold high office. Muslims shouldn’t be granted habeas corpus. ....

    "But those Americans are wrong. What their ancestors really were was scientists. Experimenters. Radicals who always considered the impossible possible. To define those ancestral Americans as merely white or straight or Christian strips them of their most stunning feature, their near-supernatural qualities of optimism and defiance and willingness to go into the unknown and make it their home, to make the amazing the norm. They defied the status quo. That’s how they built America."

    How cautious are the people about SSM faced with the brilliance and daring of our American forefathers? Do we really want to stand in the way of beautiful optimism, of facing the unknown-as-an-unknown, instead of waiting for small tests, little experiments, completely small studies about what may or may not happen? And then judge grand policy on that?

    I admire that daring.

    But yeah, I'm getting talky. I'm always up for less talky and more face-to-face, or email, dialogues.

    Much love for this post. :)

    Tim - timbarjenbruch.wordpress.com

    Cheers

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  13. Well, in the irony of all ironies, today was the day our Internet decided to go irreparably down. I wrote the follow-up post from Starbucks, and expected to get the problem fixed this afternoon, but that didn't happen. So please know I haven't abandoned the conversation. There are several comments I want to respond to, but NOT from my phone. :) Maybe it will be better it everyone sleeps on it anyway. I'm so encouraged by the civil tone here. Thanks!

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  14. Dear Lindy,

    I have some problems with the we-don't-know-the-outcome-of-gay-marriage argument, specifically as it relates to raising kids. First off, I think it's mostly a red herring argument. What do you think is going to happen to my kids? Are they going to grow up and rob banks? Be completely void of empathy for other humans? Second, why make policy based on a level of scrutiny to which no other specific class of citizens is held? Third, as a parent, it makes me supremely self-conscious about how I'm raising my children, and I don't think that's fair.

    I appreciate your writing and thinking about the issue. You are genuinely respectful, and you shouldn't ever have to worry about airing your thoughts.

    With much love,
    Douglas

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  15. I have to think some of the fear in the Christian community must be based upon how legalized marriage will affect the status of the church. If SSM is legal, and my pastor refuses to perform it (as I know he would) will the LGBT community (which has proven to be law savvy and willing to go to court) sue my church? Could churches that refuse to perform SSM be considered discriminatory and lose their status as churches, or their tax-exempt status, or be faced with bankrupting litigation that will ultimately result in loss of the freedom to worship we now enjoy? This to me is the real fear - because ultimately marriage is not a legal contract, but a spiritual covenant.

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    1. Laura Evers, I think you have found one of the big issues. You have all written so well and are so far ahead of me in being able to put thoughts to paper. I do have a few other concerns that I don't know how to voice well.

      First, as a parent, I don't want sexual material to be pushed on my children in school. Sex and sexual orientation is not something that needs to be taught in school. Children have friends with different family arrangements - single parents, blended family, living with grandparents or both biological or adoptive parents, so even talking about alternative family structures isn't necessary. They have already encountered friends with arrangements not like theirs. Teaching them to be kind should take care of most problems.

      Any type of sexual experimentation/exploration among kids tends to have undesirable consequences. For example, including the lesson "find your sexual orientation" in a health class, could promote
      sexual experimentation. People are so much more than their sexual orientation. I think most people tend to find it on their own.

      Another thing I would not want to see is someone (especially one who is in a malleable phase or is uncertain of their orientation) pushed into a sexual relationship by another person - especially someone who by age or standing has influence over them.

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  16. A note on desires -

    Everyone is born with tendencies toward certain sins, that are helped or hindered by environmental factors when they are raised (IMHO). I may struggle with pride, but never have issues with being truthful. Someone may struggle with homosexuality, but never have pride issues (and I use "never" very loosely). So in a sense, I think that people are "born" with homosexual desires just as someone else would be born with the tendency to lie, to cheat, etc.

    I'll fight my tendencies until the day I die, so I know that battles that LGBT people face are life-long battles, too, and that they CAN be saved and yet still struggle with something like that. I believe everything can be overcome through Christ but that doesn't mean our sins will magically disappear and we'll be humble/straight/honest/wise.

    God is unchanging and so He won't adapt the Bible to say that homosexuality is suddenly moral, any more than He'd decide that murder is okay or that it's totally cool to gossip. God doesn't play favorites with sins, so He dislikes my sin just as much as anyone else's. Heterosexuals have nothing over gays because one's sin is not worse than the other. I disagree that God is okay with homosexuality like I've heard many claim, but I will not exclude someone from the body of Christ just because they identify as gay.

    We all ought to work on our sins and aim to be more and more like Christ, but that doesn't happen. Straight people become complacent and don't deal with sin. So do gays. Who am I to judge their relationship with God when I have plenty I'm choosing not to address? I have enough that I need to humble myself before God about, and expecting someone else to meet a higher standard--to always work as hard as possible to fight homosexual desires--is just hypocritical, right?

    Along a similar vein, it frankly disgusts me how churches often despise those who are gay because it's a lifestyle that is not jiving with the Bible, but then the church has major gossip issues and doesn't address it. FAIL.

    So, those are just some of my thoughts. I loved your post, and think it's so true that instead of being on the side of "right" we need to understand each other. I may never convince someone to agree with me, and I have convictions that will not change, but taking the time to have actual *relationships* with other people can keep them in tact instead of creating a larger divide.

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  17. I am a straight, married woman who does not practice any religion. I am for SSM and it drives me nuts when Christians use the one-off arguments you spoke of -- "Because God said so", or that it'll affect my heterosexual marriage.

    What I haven't seen is a Catholic sit down and eloquently address both sides of the matter, like you just did. I'm happy I stumbled across this post. I like how you broke it down into two different view points. You have allowed me to see where you're coming from, without a "Because it says so!" argument. This was very well written.

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