With A Little Help From My Homosexual Friends

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.

Advertisements

106 thoughts on “With A Little Help From My Homosexual Friends

  1. Pastor P.W.

    I must humbly admit that I am on this website because I felt spiritually led to further my understanding in presenting grace(Which in all things have been extended unto me) to the people who are in this sin(Let’s not sugar coat it) that is homosexuality. I say that not that those who practice this sin are an alien life form, NO! quite the contrary they are loving human beings as is anyone can be that practice sinful nature practices including all heteral people who practice sinful nature behavior. My church has been visited by several homosexual practicing congregates over the past few months but I have failed in my duty as a man of faith to understand how to handle them in the sense as I should. Once again, I may lack the ability to handle any particular sin practicing person and not just Homosexuals with the right care. I understand what the word of God says pertaining to all sin but sometimes we miss the grace extended portion, so I am asking… How do I handle this particular group with their particular sin behavior that I do not appear not to show grace, thank you.

    Reply
    1. gracerules Post author

      Pastor P.W. – Thank you for caring about how you handle relationships with people that you believe are living in sin. Even though you and I may disagree about homosexuality being a sin we both can agree that we all struggle in offering grace and love and kindness to those that disagree with us. For me the most helpful thing has been to come to grips with the idea that I may be wrong about what I believe and so I live my own life with conviction about what I believe but at the same time I respond to others as if they may be right – in other words I have (after many years) gained some much needed humility regarding my beliefs and it has seemed to increase my ability to love. I would also ask you to give up feeling responsible for telling someone or anyone that they are sinning and grab a hold of the responsibility to be kind and loving to someone, anyone.

      Reply
    2. Sarah

      Pastor PW,

      I agree with much of what gracerules has mentioned. I would also like to add that you already have much to offer these individuals and perhaps more then what you might realize.

      And what tells me this is what you’ve written ….
      “I understand what the word of God says pertaining to all sin … ”

      If we can bring ALL SIN into the context of Christ’s redemptive work in our lives regardless if it’s adultery, divorce and re-marriage, fornication and homosexual behavior and recognize that Christ came to seek and to save the lost, and that he touched the leper and saved the wip for the religious leaders then we’ve already created a open door to address the homosexual issue and boldly from the pulpit.

      The problem a lot of preachers make is to separate homosexual behavior in a way that belittles and hurts folks in the church who are gay but if homosexual behavior is addressed in like manner as a preacher would in addressing divorce and adultery i.e. heterosexual sinful behavior then the preacher sets an environment that would allow for the individual person to at least be more open with the preacher about what’s going on in their life. I would never have approached my Youth Pastor about same gender attraction had he not cultivated a grace environment by making ALL SIN equal at the cross of Christ.

      My Youth Pastor and his wife walked out their faith in front of me. They called sin for what it is but when talking about homosexual behavior they actually never pointed a finger at me and told me I was the most evil of all sinners. They boldly taught that we are to be quick to turn away from sin but amazingly balanced that truth with the grace of God. It’s to say the least, not an easy task to balance truth and grace and I find more often then not people either being too heavy on the truth that they don’t see the individual person and then if not too heavy on the truth then too heavy on the grace and never really addressing homosexual behavior as sinful. It’s better to somehow find the balance. Jesus exemplified this with the woman caught in adultery. He could have stoned the woman but chose not to when the religious leaders brought her before Jesus to have her stoned. Instead he showed grace by not condemning her to death by stoning but it’s also important to note that Jesus did say to her to go and sin no more.

      Reply
    3. Jules

      P.W.-“Once again, I may lack the ability to handle any particular sin practicing person and not just Homosexuals with the right care. I understand what the word of God says pertaining to all sin but sometimes we miss the grace extended portion, so I am asking… How do I handle this particular group with their particular sin behavior that I do not appear not to show grace, thank you.”

      I think in some ways by taking the element of “sinful behavior” may help. I understand in your view being gay is sinful behavior, however there are many of us who are christians. I think it is important to see us as your fellow brother and sister. That you may not know all the answers on this subject as they (us) may not know the answers fully. I think we get so caught in we have to show the “wrong” instead of just showing the beauty of the gospel. Jesus never asked us to get right before we got the gospel. Now you and I may come to a different conclusion of what “after” looks like, but I think we can act out the gospel with each other even in that disagreement. I think what I’m trying to get at here is this, we are to act as a community of believers demonstrating to each other the gospel of Christ. Which is this, we are all sinners, but by the pure act of Christ dying on the Christ we are saved and working toward a common goal. I think we (christians) get tied up in the do’s and don’t’s. We dissect them over and over. Instead of walking together in the gospel and as a fellowship of pure sinners in need of the grace of the cross. Sexual, self-serving, known and unknown sins…we all suffer from that curse. Once we stop labeling which sin is worse, which is sin needs to be fixed and put under which label will we become the full body of Christ followers.

      I hope this helps. As I feel we need to learn to fellowship with each other and knowing we have no absolute answers. Each can be wrong in any argument or any theoglical disagreement.

      Peace,
      Jules

      Reply
  2. Jules

    Hey Sarah!

    Just wanted to thank you for sharing your comments publicly on Liz’s blog.

    Sometimes I forget, and I’m sure others as well, that there is even a slight “divide” between Plan A (which I am) and Plan B. It can be even hard for us to even remain open to one another. I pray we can instead of being a part in our conversations.

    Blessings!

    Jules!

    Reply
    1. Sarah

      And such is the diversity! I mean, this is a big world with many different people and all of us really have to learn how to respect, and also learn how to engage with one another on both sides. I think because of some of these divisions something like this bridging the gap was initiated and others like that eg. Bridges Across the Divide. Because of the hurt that many people have received it can be like putting salt on the wound and perhaps can be like re-traumatizing for some pending on their experiences. And I commend anyone who would be willing to take another step towards me because in much the same way, it is huge vulnerability for me to take a step towards Side A folk and perhaps just as vulnerable for Side A folk to take a step towards me. It’s easier for Side A to take a step towards Side B but it takes courage for many to engage with somebody with a Post-Gay story. I recognize that and will always keep this in mind and give grace and space.

      One time I had sat and listened to a friend spew out all of his anger towards me. I didn’t say or do anything but allowed him to vent and say whatever it was that he needed to say. I didn’t judge him and I didn’t down play or ignore his hurt. For the season that we were friends for we had become really close friends. Since then we lost contact but it wasn’t because of disagreements. I actually don’t know what happened to him and hope he’s OK. He was shifty and not all that stable in his own personal life but after his rant we really connected with one another. My step towards him was allowing him to voice his hurt and be present with him in his pain and he took that courageous step towards me and heard me. We actually spent the whole night talking to each other and listening to each others experiences. We talked about faith and how it looks different for the both of us and respected each other in our differences.

      It is my prayer that this will happen more and more for me in my relationships with people who might be different then me and who might have different convictions then myself.

      Reply
  3. Colleen

    Beautifully written. The continuing lessons you are learning & the love & understanding for your homosexual friends are truly God lead.

    My prayer is that all people including many who identify themselves as Christians and believe they have the answer to God’s teachings about homosexuality can learn to listen instead of being so sure they know what is right. Listening is just as important as talking. And communicating with others requires seeing from their point of view.

    Something came to me while reading this post that seems to parallel with World current events. In the Christian society, we do not condone other nations for fighting wars in the name of God & mistreating their citizens in the name of God. My question is, how is what these nations do any different than the way GraceRules has described the treatment many homosexuals have endured from their church communities? Aren’t church communities formed in the name of God?

    I am learning as I get older and with help from all my friends to love and accept each and every person for who they are and celebrate each person’s individuality.

    Reply
    1. gracerules Post author

      Colleen – Thanks so much for stopping by and reading my post. I really appreciate you sharing your thoughts and I thought the comparison you made was a great example of the pot calling the kettle black. You have always been so patient with me and gave me time to grow and learn – thanks for always seeing the good in me. You are a great encourager.

      Reply
      1. Colleen

        Liz, right back at ya. I love your excitement for learning new things & your willingness to share them with me & others.

        Reply
  4. Karen K

    Hi Gracerules–thanks for leaving a comment over on my blog and sharing your thoughts. I enjoyed reading your post as well. Its very thoughtfully written. And I agree that there are so many wonderful people within the GLBT community. It pains me how ultra-conservatives have no clue and broad-brush gay folk with such stereotypes.

    You say you wonder if you would have hung on to your faith if you had to endure some of the things GLBT people do. In response, I would say God’s love is pretty amazing in getting us through hard times! All my denial about being gay exploded in my face while at a very conservative Bible college. There was a season when I stopped going to church. When I felt no one could understand me. When I felt all Christians were hypocrites–talking about love and not doing it. But, I have also encountered many wonderful Christians who have been there for me too.

    Nowadays I say that my same-sex attractions are one of the best things that happened to me because it made my faith real. I had to ask the hard questions. Who was God anyway? And what is Christianity? Like you mentioned in your comment on my post, I also seriously studied–I had a vested reason too! Though, I ultimately came to a peace that same-sex relationships are not what God wants. But I have also come to a place of being out and open about my sexual identity. I do not live in a closet. Nor do I beat myself over the head. I am not preoccupied with change. It just is what it is and I keep pursuing Christ and living for the Bigger Picture that is much larger than my sexuality. God is good!

    Thanks for your loving, humble spirit!

    Reply
    1. gracerules Post author

      Karen – I love your spirit of positive generosity – with yourself and others. I understand what you mean about your same sex attractions making your faith real because you had to ask the hard questions as that is some of what I went through when my son told me he was gay. I went through some tough times feeling as if God had abandoned me and my family but as you experienced the love of God pulled me through it all to the other side. You and I may not agree on all points I can tell that we agree on the ones that are important. I wish you much joy and peace in the days ahead. Thanks so much for sharing some of your story with me.

      Reply
  5. Sarah

    OK, so this was a touching post to read. And you are right with you postings. I have learned more about authentic relationships in the GLBT Community then I have in the church. My only hope is that more and more people in the church would grow to become as authentic and real as I’ve seen many in the GLBT Community.

    And recently, I’ve had more encouragement from people within the GLBT Community in my new adventures then I have in the church. It would be nice to receive that same kind of support in the church.

    Reply
    1. gracerules Post author

      Sarah – Thanks for reading my post and for taking the time to comment. Like you, I hope and pray that the church will take the time to learn from the GLBT community and others outside of the church. It is sad when we find more love, encouragement and authenticity outside of the church. I think the church in general is lacking in humility and that it results in self-deception.

      Reply
      1. Sarah

        I think you have some good insight there with the church.

        I have found this problem and I guess the ministry I seek to develop within the church is one of encouraging authenticity and a working towards encouraging people to know it’s OK to be “flawed” and still be accepted by God. It’s OK to struggle and still be a person of faith. It’s OK to have one’s healing process more like a life-long journey instead of expecting things so instantaneous. It’s OK to have had “issues” and still currently have “issues” and still be apart of the church. It’s OK to succumb to moral failure and find grace and people to partner with in this life long journey.

        And I think if I can somehow get that message across to my community of faith the Side B folk ( that would be me ) would then be able to work towards being more authentic in our relationships with each other and more inclusive with those who might differ from us.

        Yes, I’m side B — but I seek to be a person that is inclusive and respectful to side A folk but still hold firm to my conservative views of scriptures.

        So, I’m learning from Side A folk and will continue to allow myself to be a person that is more open to learning from Side A folk because there is a lot that Side A folk has to offer in society and the church. We’re missing a lot of artistic folk who’s gifts were given to them by God in the first place and there for us to celebrate and honor.

        Reply
        1. gracerules Post author

          Sarah – I really appreciate your willingness to be generous with those who have different beliefs and opinions. I am seeing more and more of that sort of attitude and am so encouraged by it. Thanks for being willing to try and change the people within your circle of influence.

          Reply
    1. gracerules Post author

      Steve – I followed your link and from there followed your links and read and read and read. I am speecchless because of what you have gone through. You are an example of what I was talking about in my post – the way you love, the way you hope, the way you keep the faith and I have to add, the way you live. My God, your story is amazing – I really think you should write a book and that it would be so helpful to so many. Thanks for coming out when you could have just as easily kept living the lie – it is so important for people like you to come out and destroy the stereotype, to encourage others that think they are alone, to be an example of what a godly man who is homosexual. Thanks for stopping by and for appreciating my post. If you would like to know more about my story you can find some of it here http://queermergent.wordpress.com/2009/04/13/choosing-love-one-mom%e2%80%99s-story/

      Reply
  6. Jules

    thank you liz! your loving words and support always make me smile, give me hope, and sometimes gives me a tear (not bad ones).

    Jules!

    Reply
  7. edwardnortonfan

    Wow, this was an amazing post.

    You reminded me of this speech: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vfPXcCroPJc

    Seeing that speech was one of the most hopeful moments I’ve had all year, and it’s something I never thought would happen. Small things give me hope when it’s so easy to lose hope, and posts like yours give me hope, too, that people can reach out and love others, even when they all disagree. This has been a very hopeful day for me.

    Reply
    1. gracerules Post author

      I remember that speech – I had tears in my eyes. I saw the movie and loved it and thought it was an important film. I think people need to know the horrible things that have been done to homosexuals and are still happening and I think it is important for people to know about people like Harvey Milk and the work they did. I’m glad you feel hopeful today – keep hoping because I really do beleive that things will get better.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s