If you’re a heterosexual married woman, why do you care so much about gay rights?
How can you believe that homosexuality isn’t a sin, when the Bible is so clear?
These are two questions that I get, in various forms, so often that I decided to devote an entire page just to answering them.
The “how” is a complicated one to answer, and it’s one I can’t answer for you. I’m including many links to explore if you want to come to your own conclusions, but I will just say for the sake of brevity: I don’t think the Bible is as clear on this issue as so many of us have been led to believe. And after a lot of studying, research, soul-searching, and prayer… no, no I don’t think homosexuality in and of itself is a sin.
But what about the first question? Why do I care, and why am I so vocal about it? Why I don’t just keep it to myself? Because:
(in no particular order)
1. Kids are dying. Current research suggests that LGBT teens are about three times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers. Three times more likely. These kids are being bullied and shamed. They are filled with confusion and self-loathing. They are not being accepted by their parents. They are being ostracized by their families and by their churches. Many of them are left feeling like they have no other options but to end their lives. If you hear any of my reasons, please hear this. This is real. It’s 2014, and people are still killing themselves because they feel so alone. Because they are treated so poorly. Because they don’t know who to turn too. We cannot be okay with this. We NEED to care about this.
2. The way gay people are treated by Christians is absolutely shameful. I’m not talking about Westboro Baptist, with their God Hates F@gs picket signs either. Every rational person recognizes that that is not normal Christian behavior, and that those people are extremists who represent neither Christ nor His love in any way, shape, or form. I’m talking about the ever-popular “hate the sin, love the sinner” rhetoric that gets brought up every time the subject is mentioned. The people who stand on their podiums and preach about homosexuality’s evils every chance they get. The ones who don’t talk to me on Facebook – ever – but come out of the woodwork to quote scripture at me if I post anything in support of gay rights. The ones who somewhat blindly stand behind crass, vulgar men like Phil Robertson simply because they think he represents “biblical values” (even though he went way way beyond quoting the Bible). The ones who banded together to eat at Chick-Fil-A so everyone would know exactly what “side” they stood for. The ones who go out of their way, day after day, to make sure we know HOMOSEXUALITY. IS. BAD. (And again I think of the 15 year old kid who is filled with doubt and shame and fear, and can’t bring himself to tell his parents he is gay. Is he going to want to confide in any of the people who are constantly reminding him how evil it is either?)
3. Jesus had nothing to say about homosexuality, but he had a whole heck of a lot to say about loving one another. The way people tend to go on and on about homosexuality, I often wonder if people actually know this. To hear many Christians tell it, you’d think that Jesus railed against homosexuality all the time, except… he didn’t. Didn’t even mention it. Not once. I can’t help but think, if it were THAT important, wouldn’t he have at least given it a passing mention? He did however, talk about loving your neighbor. He talked a lot about loving your neighbor. He talked a lot about removing the plank from your own eye before taking the speck out of your brother’s eye. He talked a lot about serving one another, about forgiving one another, and about helping one another. The greatest commandment is “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind… and the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” It is NOT “Go forth and tell the world why homosexuality is wrong.”
4. They didn’t choose this. I was five the first time I remember having a crush on someone. His name was Paul, and he ran over my graham crackers with his truck during snack time. The first time I really fell in love, I was fourteen. It was scary and beautiful and heartbreaking… and I didn’t choose it. I didn’t choose it either time. It chose me. Just as I was born with blue eyes and curly hair and a passion for creativity, I was born with an attraction to the opposite sex. I’m not sure sure why people argue that it’d be different for someone who is gay, I’m really not. Your sexuality, who you love, who you’re attracted to… it’s an integral part of you. It can’t be separated, and it can’t be denied. I think about it sometimes, about how I’d feel if the situation were reversed. How I’d feel if heterosexuality was not the “norm.” How I’d feel if someone I loved and trusted told me, “Well, I love YOU, but I hate that you love HIM.” We cannot help who we love.
5. We’re called to love, not judge. Yes, it’s already been said, but it bears repeating. Setting aside the whole issue of whether or not it’s a sin, is there really anything other to do here than to love? Too many Christians use the Bible as a weapon, and I never see it yielded with such…. ferocity… as I do when it comes to homosexuality. Where’s the outrage over divorce? Over gossip? Over gluttony? Over being an arrogant jackass? I like a good rum and coke. Sometimes I like four of them. I have quite a few friends that are personally convicted that Christians shouldn’t drink. They’ve never tried to impress upon me that their conviction needs to be my conviction. Yet, when I give the briefest of mentions about homosexuality, out come the cries of, “Oooooh, SIN!!!” Once several years ago, I told someone I really love and respect that I believe God loves LGBT people just as much as anyone else. She looked me in the eyes, cocked her head to the side, and said, “Really?” That was the first day I really remember realizing how far we’ve strayed from the simple idea of loving others as ourselves. Yes, God loves gay people. And so should we. Not in the condescending “love the sinner” kind of way, but in a real, genuine, the-same-way-we’d-love-anyone-else kind of way.
6. We all deserve the same basic, human rights. If I were to get into an accident of some sort and was rendered incapable of making medical decisions for myself, my husband would have the legal right to make those decisions on my behalf. If something were to happen to me that made me unable to care for my children, my husband would have the legal right to assume all care. If I were to pass away, my husband would have the legal right to any and all decisions regarding finances, personal affairs, and what happens to my body after I die. I refuse to be okay with that not being the case for any loving, committed couple. It’s not right. As a living, breathing, caring human… it’s just not right.
And I think for me, that’s what it boils down to the most: What’s happening isn’t right. It isn’t fair. And it certainly isn’t Christ-like. When I see a group of people – any group of people – being treated unfairly or unkindly or as “less-than”, I have to speak up. I literally can’t help it. And it’s that quest for fairness that led me on the journey that brought me to where I am today. It certainly would have been easier to shrug my shoulders and say, “Eh, it doesn’t matter what the Bible says. We’re just supposed to love everyone anyway.” But apathy has no more a part in Christianity than prejudice and hatred.
We need to stop resting on the proverbial “love the sinner, hate the sin.” We can do better than that. We have to do better than that.
At the end of my life, if I find out I’m wrong about this (or wrong about anything, for that matter) I want to know that I at least erred on the side of love, not judgment. Compassion, not arrogance. Kindness, not condemnation.
I am so grateful for the likes of Justin Lee (who is gay, and a Christian) and John Shore (who is straight, and a Christian) for letting their voices be heard on this subject, which is – hands down – the hardest thing that I’ve ever written about.
It’s too important to keep quiet about any longer.
With that in mind, here is a collection of links to get you started if you too are searching:
Err on the side of love.