Starting Conversations. And Stopping Them.

I’ve ‘listened’ to a lot of the conversations on Facebook, the blogs, the editorials written in response to the North Carolina election last week.  And President Obama’s endorsement of marriage rights for same-sex couples. 

I have friends on both ends of the spectrum. 

Both sides say hurtful things, sincerely believing they’re standing up for what’s right, not realizing how hurtful it is. 

As a woman who experiences same-sex attraction and wrestles with reconciling faith in God and what he wants for my life in the midst of struggling with those feelings, I can tell you that this is not a black and white issue.  As someone who talks with men and women and their families from all over the world who are wrestling with the same questions, I can assure you there are no easy answers. 

Perhaps we need to focus on what we really want to accomplish by those conversations. 

To convey the love of Christ. 

To create opportunities for deeper dialogue, deeper insight, deeper understanding. 

Which does that more – stating our beliefs about an issue or really getting involved in the lives of men and women who are that issue?  Telling you what I think or listening to the journey you’ve been on to bring you to this place in your life? 

When I wrestle with these questions, what’s been most helpful to me is to have a place where I’m safe to say what I’m thinking without judgment, without reaction that causes me to shut down – to stop expressing my own feelings because I see that it’s upsetting to the other person.  In order for me to really be able to sort through my own feelings, I need someone who will simply listen and love me right where I am, no matter what.  

That has helped me more than anything. 

My fear is that these comments – in the absence of deep, ongoing, meaningful relationships – are divisive and serve no other purpose but to shut down opportunities for further conversation.  And for building those life-altering relationships. 

Relationships that remind me of who I am. 

What if, instead of spending all this time and energy fighting against something, we invested in discovering as much as we can about what’s underneath?  What if we spent all our vast resources trying to learn as much as we can from the men and women who experience same-sex attraction – of listening to the struggle, the pain, the confusion, the torment within those of us who have wrestled with these feelings for a lifetime? 

My heart goes out to my brothers and sisters whose stories remain unheard.  Some of these men and women have embraced a gay identity, some have not.  Many are still sitting in the pews of churches believing homosexuality is contrary to God’s will for their lives, but finding themselves in an utterly miserable place of being deeply attracted to someone of the same sex, and at the same time, deeply committed to God.  

Isolated. 

Alone. 

Terrified of someone finding out. 

Precious souls who are faithful Christ-followers, truly desirous of living the lives of holiness they believe God has called them to, and yet, because of the shame fueled by comments like those made over the last week, they are unable to even claim same-sex attraction as a struggle.  Within their families.  Among their closest friends.  With their ministers.  

Because they’ve heard the things we’ve said in love. 

Women and men in their 60s and 70s who are still afraid to speak up.  

College students at our Christian universities.  

We’re in your pews.  In your classes.  In your social clubs.  Majoring in ministry.

Because we love the Lord.  And we love our church families. 

But we’re terrified to tell you.

Because we’ve read the comments you write on Facebook. 

We listen to the things you say from the pulpit.  In the van on mission trips.  At the supper table.

And we’re paying close attention to how you react to the gay characters on television. 

It’s time to learn how to talk about homosexuality.  It’s time to explore what’s underneath, instead of only paying attention to what’s most obvious.  Well-intentioned, precious hearts want to make this right by making it okay – while other well-intentioned, equally precious hearts want to demonize it as the sin above sins.  The latter is most obvious in its harm, but what if the former is lacking as well? 

What if this really is a far more complex question than we’ve ever imagined – or been willing to adequately investigate? 

What if, instead of fighting a political battle that just causes more hurt feelings and isolation, we focused all of our attention and energy to discovering the real underlying issues?  What if, instead of taking a defensive posture against an ideology with which we disagreed, we sought sincerely to better understand where people are coming from? 

What if we didn’t just talk about the need to do something, but really started doing it? 

Meanwhile, kids are still growing up confused about who they really are. 

And we create graphics about marriage being between a man and a woman.

15 Thoughts

  1. “This is not a black and white issue.” What’s not a black and white issue? Either homosexual marriage is wrong or it’s not. Are you talking about something else?

  2. Yes we are all God’s children and we should treat others with love and respect, but we also have to teach what the bible teaches which is truth in love…..God’s truth, not man’s truth. These days, truth is relative, and the world teaches us that all cat’s are gray so to speak, but God gives us his truth in the good book and as Christian’s we should follow and live by that…..all of us together.

  3. to say that everyone who’s weighed in on this or any other sin is disconnected from helping those who are involved in the sin is a prejudgment, as well. There are those who battle the acceptance in our society of homosexual behavior who are very involved in helping people stop the sin and in ministering to those who are diseased and dying as a consequence of the sin.

    1. Mrs. Colley, I’ve had a great deal of respect for you and your family for a long time as our families run in the same circles.

      I am a graduate of Freed Hardeman. Grew up in a strong Christian family; my father is a well known minister. And I struggle with same-sex attraction; I do not identify as gay, do not forsee living life as a homosexual. I am a Christian who struggles with sin, just like you.

      The church is very angry on this issue, people say a lot of ugly things. I was so afraid, so scared, so terrified that it was truly not safe for me to confess my sin. I was hugely afraid that I would be rejected, turned away, shunned. The comments people made years ago on Facebook about Ellen being on American Idol nearly trapped me in my struggle; people that I had thought of confessing to all of a sudden were saying such horrific things that there was no way that I could confess to them.

      So for years I stayed trapped in my sin. Loving God, being faithful, attending church 3 times a week, speaking at Ladies day’s, working in the cradle roll class, caring for the elderly, living the life of a servant – and absolutely hating myself! Hating Myself!

      The shame I carried was truly crippling. I was becoming disabled in my life. I began losing weight, I couldn’t eat. I began losing friends, I started pushing them away in fear. I was so ashamed of who I was, how could God love me? I was confused, angry, disappointed that I wasn’t married with kids like all my friends, sad, grieved, lost.

      I finally hit rock bottom. I hit bottom so hard. I finally found a safe place in CenterPeace and in Sally Gary and in the work that she does. I began counseling, I talked with my family – they are wonderfully supportive and encouraging and loving; I started to heal – I have not finished my healing process and still have a long way to go. Healing means not hurting, not hating myself, not ashamed, it doesn’t mean I don’t struggle with same sex attraction anymore.

      The thing is though, I should have found that safe place in the church, and I didn’t. We as Christians do not cultivate safe places for Christians who struggle with same-sex attraction. And because I couldn’t confess it, I stayed in it, hiding, praying that no one would find out, because they would reject me, leave me, fulfill the fears of my heart. Fortunately, my family – supports me, the very few close friends I’ve told – support me, but a few haven’t. Some don’t understand, don’t understand that a friend that they have could be so gross, so ugly, so abominable. We’ve had a hard time reconciling, but with God and time and prayer we have.

      The majority of the people in my life still don’t know.

      I am a Christian. I am a graduate of Freed-Hardeman. I am a member of the Church of Christ. And I struggle with same-sex attraction. I am not ashamed of me anymore. I don’t hate myself anymore. I don’t hide anymore. I also don’t have AIDS or HIV and haven’t behaved in such a way as to do so.

  4. We have all struggled with sin and will always struggle with sin, no matter what disguise it is wrapped up in. The issue here, is not the gay/straight issue alone, but the one of marriage. The desire of gay people to use the institution of marriage in respect of their unions, is the core issue in this debate. So you can dress up the issue in ” Oh how unfair can you be” dress but it does not change the core issue of what Marriage is and how it has been given by God to us for a particular reason. If gay people want to be gay, that is their choice, just as mine might be the struggle to stay faithful to my wife, I choose the path I wish to follow, but I do not advocate it as a human rights issue and seek the same for all like minded people who follow my persuasion, in law. A similar dilemma is to be found with the polygamists who go to jail for their beliefs but how many of us spend the time finding ways to protect them from the torment of their choices in life…..???? Not much sympathy for a polygamist but why for the gay community, they will answer to God and no one else for their choices in life, just like you and I. So for me leave marriage alone and find another avenue to achieve what you want and I wish all the best for you in that choice but please do not take what is a precious and God sanctioned union and pervert it to mean something it does not….

    1. I think the communication breaks down when people start thinking that this is a debate of “us against them” As long as there are gay Christians, and lets hope there always will be, there is no “them.” Our priority shouldn’t be the politics – no one will be saved by criminalizing same sex marriage. Ultimately our goal is the salvation of the Body of Christ in all her members.

    2. Don, I just wanted to correct your assumption that all gay people choose to be gay. First of all, I have a son that suffers from same sex attraction. He NEVER chose to be attracted to boys especially not in the first grade. He is a good Christian young man that I am so very proud of!! He has no plans whatsoever to marry another man, much less date one. We all need to educate ourselves on people/topics that we are uncomfortable with or afraid of before speaking. Myself included. The world would be a much better place if we would all remember that God is our Father so that makes us all His children (brothers& sisters) 🙂

  5. Reblogged this on Same-Sex Attractions and commented:
    My Comments: Thank you Sally for sharing this desperately needed (but often ignored) message. It is disheartening to witness the unending parade of voices talking at each other, talking pass each other and talking down at each other (on both sides). We need to walk into people’s hearts with care, consideration and discernment.

  6. Thank you Sally for sharing this desperately needed (but often ignored) message. It is disheartening to witness the unending parade of voices talking at each other, talking pass each other and talking down at each other (on both sides). We need to walk into people’s hearts with care, consideration and discernment.

  7. So glad to read you blog today. Since I know and love many who struggle with same sex attraction and committed Christians on both sides “of the aisle”, I had wondered how to respond to the rhetoric. You always encourage in the way of Jesus.

  8. You are spot on!! I’ve seen all of this happen with my son. The guilt and lack of understanding has caused him to stay away from church. As far as this being the “sin of all sins” society is dead wrong!!! They need to read their Bible again because God says that SIN IS SIN! I raised my children this way and they are very loving and forgiving adults. We all need to live our lives for God and know that anything we say or do in that life will be between God and ourselves ONLY.

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