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.
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.