I have a dear friend who is, almost certainly, gay. We never discuss this — sexual behaviour isn’t a normal topic of conversation in most friendships! I worry that my friend has no partner, that my friend’s church and community are adamantly judgmental — in the most negative of ways — of gays.
To come out of the closet, for my friend, would mean losing most of the many communities to which my friend belongs. It breaks my heart.
I grew up in a traditional Methodist household. We attended church on Sundays, Sunday school before, and youth group on Wednesday nights. I was christened as an infant, and baptised as a young teen. It’s what the children of my social group did — as did many many other American children.
But somewhere along the line, the four of us sisters refused the KoolAid that tied religion to hatred. When my youth group director said we couldn’t invite ‘those kids’ — the poorer kids from our school, the brown kids — I dropped out. My reading of the Bible didn’t include her narrow-mindedness. When my ostensibly Christian peer group shunned a girl because of rumours a boy spread about her — rumours that could not be true, as I’d been with her when he alleged ‘things happened’ — I stopped being friends with them. And wasn’t in the least saddened to do so: their talk was only that.
I’ve never understood how so many Christians justify their cherry-picking of Scripture. I’ve read the Bible cover to cover, and am starting over w/ a scholar’s version — heavily annotated w/ historical context and translation. It’s the text of our culture, despite what spiritual tradition I may choose to follow instead. So I’m familiar w/ Leviticus, the main source of homosexual-targeted hatred. And let me tell you: if you’re not keeping ALL of Leviticus? You’re cherry-picking. It’s pretty evident if you are: if you’re a man, and don’t have a long beard? Cherry-picking. Woman w/ short hair? Cherry-picking. Divorced? Cherry-picking. Eating shrimp or pork? Cherry-picking.
In other words: whatever drives your fear/ hatred of gays, it isn’t Biblical scripture, or you’d be keeping kosher and stoning people.
My friend will almost certainly never ‘come out’ of the closet an ostensibly religious community has locked devout Christian gays in. To do so would be to ‘divorce’ the religion my friend is passionately committed to. It would mean ‘disappointing’ — a mild term, I’m sure — an entire network of devout Christian family. All for… what? The possibility of a life-long partner? Face certain ostracism — this is not an issue evangelicals are kind about, too often — for ‘possibility’? I can’t see my friend gambling an entire life of family, community, & religion for a ‘possible.’
So in this rainbow-hued week of supposed triumph, I am grieving. Because while laws will, eventually, change the beliefs of many, those changes will be too late for my dear friend. And that seems so very counter to the New Testament Jesus I loved as a child. I still remember judge not lest you bejudged. And let he who is without sin cast the first stone. And the Beatitudes, and the whole idea that Jesus was the new beginning. We were supposed to listen to JESUS, not the horrible Elijah, or the other prophets who still seem so full of anger & hate. Anger — in the New Testament, at least — was reserved for the money-lenders (bankers, anyone?). The Pharisees (the legal system). NOT average folks trying to muddle through their lives, loving as science shows they were born.
Perhaps you don’t know and love any gay men or women. Perhaps no one in your family has had the courage to let you in on his or her private life. So perhaps ‘gays’ remain a term w/ no face for you. Let me offer my own face, made deeply sad by the plight of my dear friend. Who may well never know the love of two deeply committed human beings, bound by choice through life. Because of hate masquerading as a religion of love.