Saturday, December 20, 2008

Questions about the "gay lifestyle"

Someone wrote me and said this: There is a lot of things in the gay community that are prevalent, like pornography and multiple partners. Why is that, if it is okay? these are the questions I have.

Regarding porn, if truth be told, there are many people who accept and view porn, both gay and straight alike. I don't believe our access to this is a selling point, but I'm stating that it's there and people view it. And straight people have no monopoly on multiple partners - just watch Friends re-runs. While the media shows some parts of gay life, and while some of it is valid, not ALL of it is. I have some opinions about this, and part of the problem is because of the churches in general.

First, I think that sexual orientation is somehow pre-determined. Whether it is birth order, hormonal, genetic, or some outside environmental cause, I think some people are wired differently in regards to their sexual feelings. Because I believe in a divine spark of life at conception, then of course that would mean that God makes all of us. Hence some of us are "made" gay, while others are "made" straight.

When early, non-sexual attractions are realized as youngsters, most people are rewarded for boy-girl crushes. "Do you have a girlfriend?" is asked of a little kindergarten boy. "Are you married?" we jokingly ask little elementary-age girls. Gay people, however, are shamed - and as one gets older, the shame is enlarged so that it becomes worse. Ridicule is painful and most people avoid it, and in church we preach that homosexuality is the worst of the worst of humanity. It is sickness! It is sin!

When we, as Christians, tell people that their sin is unforgivable and damning, gay people eventually lose hope for their own salvation. It seems to be unattainable, unreachable, and they, themselves become the "untouchables" to all normal folk. We tell them they must change to become heterosexual, and while it may be possible for an extremely small few, I don't think it is possible for most gay people. Those gay people finally turn from God and from the churches. Without hope, without moral role models, then you have all the "stuff" that goes with it - and depravity sinks lower and lower.

Another extremely important point: NOT ALL GAYS TURN FROM THE CHURCH! Many, many, many are still hanging in there. They are solid family people, whether or not they are partnered or married. Many are ministers, music leaders, and Bible teachers. They love God, love the church, love everything about serving God and the church. They are NO different than other people in any ways that really count!

I had a pastor recently liken this to a dog who returns to a cruel master, and still licks his master's hand. He said this is like people who are kicked and misrepresented within the church, but they stay and serve and love the very churches that vilify them.

I believe it is so important that those who are gay and are religious to walk openly and show their families, those around them, their co-workers, and their communities that there is a difference in how people live their lives, and to show that sexual orientation does NOT pre-determine behavior. In the same way it is my opinion that we ALL should live our faith with integrity - gay or straight.

One book I read, "The Velvet Rage," went into details about how the mental condition of gay men develops. I recommend it often. The psychologist that wrote doesn't claim to be a Christian, but has evaluated many of his patients, and I think he's got good things to say.

In answer to those who ask about the Bible and what it says, I must refer them to sources that helped me view things differently. I formerly looked in Leviticus and saw only "abomination." In Romans, I saw, "turned them over to reprobate minds." What I didn't take into consideration was the fact that we have changed how we view eating shrimp, opening stores on Sundays, slavery and birth control. I think now it is time we re-evaluated our use of the Bible as a sex manual. For readers who wish to learn more, please read HERE and HERE.


emily said...

I’m still trying to figure out what the “gay (or homosexual) lifestyle” is?! I’m always dumbfounded when confronted with such sentiments. Homosexual refers to one’s attractions – it does not provide one with a ready-made life script. Just as heterosexuals have a plethora of lifestyles to choose from, so too do those of us who have attractions to people of the same gender.

Is it not odd to assume that an entire group of people who have a particular trait (homosexuality) are condemned because some within the group participate in immoral activity? It would seem such logic would render heterosexuals beyond redemption as well.

I’m quite confused by those who condemn homosexuals for being promiscuous, who at the same time deny them any form of legal protections or social legitimacy to reinforce long-term monogamous relationships. Most people grow up with the idea that one day they will meet someone they want to spend their life with, get married, and have a family. It seems so basic to most people that they take it for granted. This is, however, not true for all of us. Some of us grew up with attractions to people of the same gender, and have been painfully aware for a very long time that this dream is not ours.

Unmarried heterosexually oriented Christians have the great benefit of having their struggles understood within the context of the larger faith community. They are expected to have attractions to those of the opposite sex, and therefore there is no stigma attached to this. By and large they are not taught that being attracted to opposite-sexed people is a sin worthy of hell – they are simply taught that there are healthy as well as unhealthy ways of dealing with one’s attractions.

This is not so much the case for those of us in the church with same-sex attractions. When it is brought up, it is usually discussed as if surely none of the “good” Christians who are in attendance are homosexually oriented. There is an underlying tone of disgust, and arrogance. It shouldn’t be surprising that many of us absorb that disgust, and turn it inward on ourselves and become full of shame which by its very nature isolates us from not only God, but his church. Why is it surprising when people who are rejected by those who are supposed to love them go looking for love somewhere else? Why is it surprising when those who are despised and rejected by the community meant to be God’s ambassadors to them don’t choose lifestyles that honor Him?

What is surprising: There are some of us who have managed to hang on to our faith in God. There are some of us who have experienced the redemptive grace of a loving God and understand he does not hate us – despite what we have been taught in our churches and our Christian homes. There are some of us who have wrestled with God to the point of near death, and have walked away limping, forever changed by our encounters with Him.

Carol said...

Dear Emily - I'm wondering why I try to write, when you are the real blogger. THANKS for saying things that I know to be true.I hope you will continue to add comments.

angie said...

Whenever my mom talks about my "lifestyle" and how awful it is, I remind her that it isn't much different than her own. I go to work, come home, cook dinner, watch tv. She gets angry and insistis that my life with my partner is nothing like her life with my dad. It's frustrating, like banging my head against the wall.

I was once involved in church and even in some leadership roles. The response of my mom and my former pastor was more painful than I could have imagined. I felt like I had been beaten up. Since then, I visit different churches occasionally, but I have not been consistent or involved anywhere near to the extent I once was. I miss it. I miss church and the fellowship.
Thank you for providing a voice of reason and support.

emily said...

Carol –
I shouldn’t have commented so late at night, I got carried away and in my sleepiness I failed to say one of the main things I meant to say! I’ve been following your blog for some time now; I came upon it in early October.

Thank YOU for speaking out and wrestling with this issue and sharing your heart in such a public way; you’re a blessing.

When I first read the article about Ray in the Blade my heart broke – not because he came out, but because I could only imagine the pain he has endured, all the pain your family has endured, and because I could only assume that there would be a wonderful “loving” backlash from the “Christian” community. I don’t think I would have the courage that you have shown in response to this whole situation.

Rob said...

It's always interesting when one refers to the "Gay lifestyle", they use examples like Pornography, going to bars, and having many sexual partners....the absurd thing is, they pretend like this is a "gay thing", when in fact Straight people do these things as well.

It seems to me, those who are vocal against Gays, are just trying to set a high standard, that not even all heterosexuals go by, almost to feel "morally superior".

shapenotesinger said...

Thanks for your comments, Carol. I found your blog through Christine and Peterson's sites.

You're exactly right. There are many GLBT people serving congregations all around the world. And we're there because we WANT to exercise our faith -- not run from it. Maybe one day the haters will learn. Speed that day.

In the meantime, may you and yours be blessed with grace and peace!