It was 2002, I was twenty four and pregnant with my first child. I was married and I was Christian. Having just moved back to Texas from a two year stint in Washington State, I called one of my best friends to reconnect. I asked her about her son, about her job, about her relationship. She told me she was gay.
I didn’t know what to say. Then, I said the wrong thing. “I don’t believe that is a healthy lifestyle. I’ll pray for you.” She told me she was in love, I told her she was deceived. She told me her girlfriend treated her like no man ever did, I told her she needed to pray about it. Our friendship was ruined, but not by her being gay. By my judgment. In my eyes, she was blatantly defying the commandments of God to engage in a homosexual lifestyle.
A few years later, I found myself “blatantly defying the commandments of God” by getting divorced. My husband had not cheated on me. Adultery is the only Biblically “acceptable” reason for divorce, and yet, I had signed the papers to divorce him. My church at the time, Baptist, ran a support group for newly divorced people. God still had a purpose for me, they said. God still loves me, I can get remarried…to a man.
I proceeded to engage in sexual relationships outside of marriage. I wasn’t planning on getting remarried anytime soon. I drank too much. I lied and cursed. And I was forgiven, over and over. These small things weren’t unforgivable.
Then I began dating a woman.
I found myself attracted to women and interested in the possibility that I was, if not gay, at least bisexual. I had always had this attraction, but like any good Christian, I could rise above it – I could “overcome by the blood of the Lamb.” And my bottom line was always God is love.
When I began to question my Christianity, I also began to measure all of the rules and regulations. Sure, Leviticus told me that homosexuality was wrong… but it also told me that I shouldn’t wear clothes that were a polyester blend. Granted, Paul denounced men lying with men, but he also said I should be covering my head in church. Why, all my life, had I been taking some things as literal and others as metaphorical in the Bible? Why had I never noticed that Jesus healed the Centurian’s “boy” – his lover – or that David and Jonathon had a more intimate relationship than David is described to have had with any of his wives?
Could God forgive me for being attracted more to the person than the gender? And… could I help that I was attracted to a woman? I believed in a Creator God, so why in the world would God create me with parts that were unacceptable to him? Parts that he could not love? I cannot believe that a God who is love cannot forgive certain things.
I cannot believe that a God who is love would reject someone because HE made them wrong.
This was a chink in my armor of Southern Evangelical Christianity, and the beginning to my paradigm shift. As I listened more to the words of those representing Christianity to the world, I became infuriated. Folks like homophobic preacher Charles Worley want to deny LGBT people their basic civil rights because he hates them (and they should all be fenced up). Louis Giglio, a well-known “moderate” evangelical, wants to deny LGBT people their basic civil rights for OTHER reasons, and he wants to be “gracious and cordial” about it.
“Abominable Gays” who” choose a homosexual lifestyle” should be handled with grace? That this is even a conversation among the religious right is abominable to me. Extend grace to those choosing to be authentic by being openly gay?
We all need grace, sure, but is it a worse sin to “Choose” homosexuality, or to lie about who you are? For that matter, God did command us to “be fruitful and multiply” so are infertile people choosing to ignore that commandment and therefore in need of a self-righteous extension of grace from those of us who aren’t? (Note: I find it interesting that in the 7 things that Lord hates listed in Psalms does not mention homosexuality, but it does mention a lying tongue.)
I could go on and on.
In my own life, in my own time, I have become an outspoken advocate of equal rights for humans. Because, in the end, we are all human. Today I would no more tell Reverend Worley that he doesn’t have the right to his beliefs than I would tell my friend she doesn’t have the right to be homosexual. But I will not let Reverend Worley and Mr. Giglio speak for me. I will not let them represent the definition of Christianity I am fighting for.
I don’t believe in legislated morality, or that the government should be able to decide who can and cannot love one another. That is my Libertarian side. But I also don’t believe in perpetuating hate or separating people from God because of who they are. That is my compassionate side. I will take a stand to redefine how God-chasers are perceived.
In July, I was committed to my soul mate (a man) under live oak trees in New Orleans. There were rings, there were vows, but there were no papers to sign, no licenses, no official minister. This is my stance:
if my gay sisters and brothers cannot be married under the law, then I will not be married under the law.
I may not be gay, but I am human. And I will not stand idly by while human rights are being violated, and while God’s name is being bound to hate. I love God. God is love. I will show love. This is the only way I see to change things.
I would love to hear your thoughts.