Friday, February 13, 2009

a haunting question: "Am I innocent?"

I sometimes get the question, "What if you are wrong about your support of gays?" Sometimes it's an honest question, and sometimes others are assuming that they can change my mind by their arguments.

I don't think I am, but I've struggled with my doubts. It was easier when I had black and white answers to just about everything, but it was long ago that I had abandoned simplistic theology. I learned years ago to accept single moms (or dads). I didn't turn my back on my brother (or my former sister-in-law) when they divorced, even though I didn't understand. It took longer to change my fundamentalist views, and I can remember trying to sort it all, trying to wrap my mind around how it would be to accept that the Bible wasn't literal in all it's written accounts. Then I began to realize that we disregard so much, such as that we don't cut off our hand if it offends us. Most everyone I know eats shrimp, pork, and cheeseburgers. Those things were forbidden in Old Testament Law, but now we have changed. I have several pieces of clothing with "mixed cloth," (they didn't even HAVE polyester in the Bible) and it would seem ridiculous to scrutinize my wardrobe in that way.

Yet somehow there is still offense drawn by church people when it comes gay people. Young people who realize that they have gay feelings often abandon the churches they love being part of, because they hear and internalize guilt over something they don't choose: their sexual orientation. They don't feel that they can be honest if they bring a partner - or simply a date - to a church function. And sadly, we teach kids from a young age to separate from loved family members, just because those family members are gay.


Today I read a post by a guy who blogs on Reconciling Ministries Network. He wrote this:
Am I Innocent?


I lay on my back stretched out on the Futon. The cat hovered above me, her white-tipped paws firmly planted on my chest. She watched me through her green eyes leaping out of tufts of grey fur. She purred as I gently rubbed my hands up and down the length of her body. Suddenly the cat lowered her head and rubbed her forehead on mine, marking me as her possession.

The cat reminded me of the time my partner Derrick and I burst through the door of my sister’s home with red racing cars for Luke, art supplies for Francis and a board book for Louis. My nieces and nephew danced around our feet. “I want to show you my new room,” Francis screamed in competition with Louis waving her new board book in search of a reader. Luke scurried across the living room to play with his new cars.

As Louis sat next to me on the couch and I read her stories, I wondered how she would receive me after "the talk" about her uncle and his friend. Would she grow up like family members who want me to stay away from her. Maybe Louis would never have "the talk", but hear Pastor Dell, Elders Kevin or Don or even her Christian school teacher rail about how "homosexuals are destroying the moral fabric of the nation." Would Louis continue to view me with the innocence we shared learning the alphabet from her new board book?

I just realized how often I ask this question, even subconsciously. Am I innocent? Most of the time, I don’t even hear my soul breathing the question as my family, church and society enforces their reality that being gay or transgender is not innocent.

The cat finished rubbing her forehead on mine, lay down on my chest and slowly lowered her eyelids for a nap. She purred and swirled her tail between my legs.

My insomnia finally surrendered and I fell asleep in the innocent embrace of the cat.

---



Wow - what a post. It's hard to ask a question like that, much less put your thoughts on a blog. I think it affects many who are going against the flow of what we've always heard. I have so changed from how I was "taught," and I can't go back, but still, there are all the voices that whisper, "What if you are wrong?"

I keep hoping for people to see "just people," and not merely sexual orientation. I keep hoping for those little ones to grow up accepting their uncles and aunts, never giving way to the harmful effects of Sunday School teachers, preachers, and others who damn with their words those who are gay. I hope that they'll grow up to accept the grandparents that have moved far away - the ones who came to accept, later in life, that they are gay, and who felt it necessary to move far away to escape the glares and stares of people they used to go to church with. I want those kids to learn that all love is part of God, and that we can do better than to cause pain by rejecting gay family members.

In our family, we will be ones to raise the grandkids to be the different, new generation, ones who can be accepting, so that gay people won't have to wonder, "Am I innocent?"

8 comments:

Roby and Dotti Berry Sapp said...

Thank you, Carol. With tears running down my cheeks, all I can say is "Thank you." We think of you and Ray and your family often, and we always lift you up in Love and Light. You are a blessing to our community, Carol. Thank you! Lovingly... Roby, Dotti and Miss Rylee Joy

Tony Donley said...

Thank you, Carol and God bless you.

PamBG said...

I just did a little 3 minute talk at a nursing home on one of my favourite sound-bites 'Being wrong can be forgiven'. What if we lived in a world where being wrong could be forgiven? Would it feel more like heaven or more like The Other Place?

Having grown up fundamentalist in the US, this phrase is now at the centre of my understanding of the Gospel. Because what I was taught - by lived example, not from the pulpit - was that being wrong can't be forgiven and that it won't be forgiven. Central to the fundamentalism that I was raised in was the idea that you'd better be darn sure you are right about your doctrine, because if you aren't you're in trouble.

I know that I believe in Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I know that even if my beliefs turn out to be wrong in eternity, that I hold them after much prayer and thinking and anguish. I know that I'm sincere. Perhaps no other living person can be sure of that, but I know it and God knows it.

If I'm wrong, God - by his grace won for me and the whole universe on the cross of Christ - will forgive me.

Mark said...

When I hear, "What if you are wrong about your support of gays?" my natural response is: "What if you're wrong to be so hostile and hateful towards lgbt people?"

Given the track record and history of the church, especially in the last century, I'd be more worried if I were in the latter category.

RuthAnn said...

Being wrong can be forgiven - what a powerful and important truth.

After 60 years of shameful hiding in fear and guilt, I have come to terms with being lesbian and Christian - for all those years I thought I had to choose. But in coming out, I have lost my daughters and 11 of my grandchildren, because they are so sure that are right. I grieve for them, and I thank God for his unconditional love.

Dan from Toronto said...

Thank you for sharing that.
I still have that little insecure voice say to me sometimes... "are you really sure?"... much like the "are you innocent?"
And I thank God that that voice has turned from a shout from the pulpit controlling my life, or a off the cuff comment over coffee... to a litle whisper every now and then that I answer.
"I am sure God Loves me, I am sure I am acceptable, I am sure I am innocent, I am sure I know how to love..."
That is a beautiful picture at the piano... stunning.

Anonymous said...

LOVE IS LOVE
(T. Beechey)

Love is the river and the boat
Love is the pain and the antidote
Love is what is, was, and will be
Love is blind, yet still can see

Love is love, a sacrament which cannot occur by accident
Or circumstance, there's nothing to blame...love is still known by only one name
Love is love and all should enjoy, it may involve a boy and a boy
Or a girl and a girl --- everyone is fair game...love is still known by only one name

Love is the query and solution
Love is the cause and contribution
And after the passage of winds and rains
In the end, love still remains

Love is love, so let it bloom! There's no need to question how or by whom
All that's important is that it came...love is still known by only one name
Love is love and shall always exist, it matters not if the pairing consists
Of a lord and a lord or a dame and a dame...love is still known by only one name

Love is both the answer and question
Love is the desire and suggestion
Whenever two kindred souls unite
There is no wrong cause love is right

Love is love, as long as it's shared between two hearts that have grown and cared
Beating as one --- there shouldn't be shame...love is still known by only one name
Love is love regardless of gender, the feelings expressed are just as tender
Whether between different or same...love is still known by only one name

truthspew said...

Carol,

Kudos for embracing free thought. I broke away from religion at a very young age and am an atheist now. I still have a strong Christian attitude though.

I think you know the parts I speak of, help the less fortunate, turn the other cheek although that gets harder to do every day.

I'm so glad you see that the Bible was written for a different time.

Caution: If you visit my blog link I do use some strong language in there.