I don’t read many blogs regularly. Maybe three. One of them is written by a friend I haven’t met in real life yet. He is raw and wounded, confused and self-absorbed, and a little narcissistic just like the rest of us. He is an incredibly gifted writer. And he’s gay.
I read his brave, anguished posts and I want to give him a hug and say “I’m so sorry.” and “I can’t possibly understand your pain, just like you can’t possibly understand mine, but I want to try. I’m listening. I want to be better at loving you and others well.”
I want to be friends, but there are a couple hurdles. There’s a caution and a question I’d like to raise with him as gently as possible. But I fear his wounds are too raw. Still scraped and bloody and in danger of infection. I fear even soft, well-meaning inquiries may be interpreted as attacks. That’s not at all what I want.
Here’s what I’d like to say to this gay friend I’ve never met (Even as I write that I’m nervous that I should say “friend who is gay” instead of “gay friend”):
1. A Caution. I want to be friends, but I will always disappoint you. The church will always let you down. So will secular gay friends. So will your mom. And your boss.
Sure, we’ll try. We’re a well-meaning lot, most of us, but we’re not wired to be constantly attentive, perfectly sensitive, ever-loyal. You may have us confused with God. Nope, we’re definitely not. We’re fearful and proud and self-centered just like you, so we’ll mess up. And you’ll get hurt. Again. So will we all. Even as victims of friendly-fire perhaps. I know. I too have the scars. There was a time, for a year I felt so rejected and discarded I couldn’t enter the church I once loved.
The church, and your gay friends, and even your mom, or your boss or I may have thought or said or done insensitive or unkind things that need to be repented of. I don’t want to minimize that.
But just because we’re hypocritical let-you-down-ers don’t write God off. Please. He IS the One who will never leave or forsake you. He IS the One who knows you inside and out and loves you fiercely. You are His beloved riffraff. And so are the rest of us, hot messes one and all.
2. A Question. (This one is hard, so you might want to sit down and breathe). Do I have to agree with you to love you? Do I have to believe what you believe for you to feel accepted by me? I have to be honest. Although sometimes you say it’s ok to differ, it doesn’t seem like you feel it’s ok.
I know it’s hard. We all want others to agree with us, support every decision, cheer our choices. That sure describes me. I want to feel included, invited, inside, and indisputably right.
I also want to be inclusive, and inviting with others. I want to have conversations not diatribes. I want to love God and you, my neighbor, well – with both grace and truth.
So I start by saying I think you are gifted, broken, and beloved just like me. Just like all children of God everywhere.
Gay describes only your orientation, and I accept that with all its challenges, just like you accept the fact that I’m blonde and blue-eyed.
Beloved, chosen, redeemed describes your identity and I celebrate that. I celebrate the God in you.
I also affirm that you have the right to choose your own path. Everyone, everywhere, has civil rights we must defend vigorously. But that doesn’t mean I believe those rights are what God desires most for you. We may disagree there, and if that pains you, I’m sorry.
3. A wish. I wish I could see something different in Scripture that would enable me to endorse the lifestyle decisions that most gay Christians long for. But I can’t avoid what seems to be God’s design for us to thrive, either as single celibate people or in the marriage of a man and woman. This is not a position I’ve come to lightly or without a ton of reading and conversations and humbly listening to brothers and sisters in the community of faith. I want to keep listening.
Does this mean we can’t be friends? I hope not.
Jesus was friends with a heck of a lot of people he didn’t agree with. The “lifestyle choices” He condemned even while loving others, ranged from greed to hypocrisy to adultery, idolatry, and self-righteousness. You may disagree with my politics or think I’m addicted to comfort, or that I don’t sacrifice enough for others. I still wish we could be friends.
We’re all of us “plank in the eye” people. We’re all stumbling along, many of us trying to do so by grasping the Hand much larger than ours. My prayer is that we can go together, and receive God’s great love for both of us.