My post today is part of the Bridging the Gap Synchroblog. The purpose of this synchroblog is to share positive stories, ideas, suggestions on how we can bridge the gaps between people on the topic of faith and sexuality. Another way to put it is, “How can we embody mutual honour and respect in our conversations and relationships with those with whom we may disagree on the topic of homosexuality?”
(After this post had been published for a few weeks I learned that the term homosexual is offensive to many in the LGBTQ community. I was unaware of this and will know better in the future. Please accept my sincere apologies for this faux pas.)
It may surprise you to find out that a straight, fifty something, evangelical (that label doesn’t fit so well in the last couple of years), Christian woman can be taught some valuable lessons about faith, hope and love from homosexuals – but it’s true.
I have learned a lot about love from friends of mine who are homosexual. I have seen some of the most Christ like love and grace demonstrated by some of my friends who are homosexual. I have seen them love their families even when they were rejected, I have seen them love their neighbors even when they were treated like they were a criminal in the neighborhood and I have seen them love their church community even when they were not allowed to serve and participate in the church after they were honest about their sexual orientation. I have seen them show concern for those who are uncomfortable with their sexual orientation, in fact I have even seen them broken hearted for the ones that seem to be hurt by their sexual orientation and I have seen them be forgiving to those who come to their senses and sincerely express sorrow for the way they have treated homosexuals. My love is often less Christ like. I tend to love those who agree with me and like me; or those who look to me for help and make me feel special; or those who treat me like a first class citizen and notice that I have something valuable to contribute – but through the help of my friends who are homosexual I am learning to love better.
I think it is sad but I often see my friends who are homosexuals have very low expectations of Christians in general. Most of the time they just hope that Christians won’t be mean to them. You would think that Christians would be a little more in touch with the concept that everyone is valuable and should be loved and cared for and respected, but it doesn’t seem to be the case. I personally think that Christians should be expected to demonstrate an extravagant and beautiful love that shocks the world – instead it seems that we can shock the world with a little tolerance these days. However, even though my homosexual friends seem to have low expectations of Christians, they haven’t lost hope. They are some of the most hopeful, resilient and persevering people I know. They hope for a day when they won’t be judged because of their sexual orientation, a time when they can marry the person they love and don’t have to worry that they won’t be allowed to participate or be hired because they are homosexual. They hope for a day when their character and their actions and their talents will be as important to others as the fact that they are attracted to the same sex – for a day they aren’t made to feel ashamed or guilty for the way they are naturally. I have a tendency to stop hoping if things don’t go my way after a while, I don’t want to deal with the disappointment, I don’t want to hope for something I might not see come to fruition in my lifetime…but through the help of my friends who are homosexual I am learning to not give up so quickly, to be more resilient, to persevere when things don’t seem to be getting better – I am learning to hope more.
My friends who are homosexual have also taught me a lot about what it means to keep the faith. I often wonder what I would have done if I was gay. Would I be faithful to Christ or would I have just given up on the whole thing because of the way I was treated by Christians? Would I have continued to attend church, to read the bible, to sing worship songs? knowing that so many hurtful things had been said about homosexuals and done to homosexuals in the name of Christ. I am in awe of the way my Christian friends who are homosexuals remain faithful to following Christ and trying to live a Christ like life. They haven’t seen that much Christ like behavior committed by Christ followers and yet they are still faithful to believe that Christ is loving and good and worthy of following. I don’t know if my faith would have been so enduring but with a little help from my Christian friends who are homosexuals I am learning what it means to keep the faith.
With a little help from my homosexual friends I am learning to love better, to hope more and to keep the faith.
Of course I could tell you some stories of homosexuals who aren’t good examples of faith, hope and love – but I am afraid that in between the lines of those stories we would have to point out that they had some pretty good reasons for their lack of faith, hope and love – reasons like being made fun of and ridiculed, being rejected and treated like second class citizens, reasons like shame induced bible studies and people telling them that they have “chosen” wrong and should change that which they are powerless to change, reasons like not being loved or respected or cared for, reasons that would cause most of us to give up on faith, hope and love….but I think that it serves all of us much better – that it has the greatest potential to bridge the gap – if we look for the good – if we gain some humility and become people who can learn from each other – if we take a long hard look at ourselves through the eyes of others.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Cor 13:13
You can find the other synchroblog participants here.