This has been a long week. Not in a bad way, or even in an overwhelming way, but definitely long.
I started off the week by coming out to my bible study which was terrifying and freeing all at once. There were only five of us there, and one of the people was my best friend, so basically I was coming out to three people. They were three people who I’d pretty much just met. I don’t quite know why I did it, but it felt right. I wanted to start off the study with full honesty. A huge part of my life this year, and what I feel God has called me to, involves working in the LGBTQ community and I don’t want pretend otherwise.
I suppose that, given the circumstances, it went as well as it could have. But I also encountered something that I’ve quickly realized is going to be a recurring thing as I talk about my involvement in the LGBTQ community.
First, many Christians assume that I’m doing this internship as an ally until I state otherwise. They never approach it from the perspective that I might not be heterosexual, which is both amusing and really frustrating. Second, their view of what I’m doing there as an “ally” is really not the role of an ally at all. The initial assumption is that I’m there to evangelize, or to tell people that they’re wrong.
They are baffled that my involvement with the LGBTQ community is solely an act of love, nothing more and nothing less. The fact that people are so baffled by this has really brought the reality of what I’m up against to the forefront this week.
The LGBTQ community has become so stigmatized in the Christian world that people cannot comprehend my desire to be a part of it with the sole intent to love people. And that-
That is very sobering.
This week I’ve been bluntly faced, more than once, with the question: “How can you condone that?”
I hear that question and I’m harshly split between the urge to scream and the need to cry. It’s only by the grace of God that I manage to avoid doing either, and instead find the mental strength to have a genuine conversation about it.
I make them elaborate on their question, forcing them out of the comfortable grey area to ask me what they really mean. It’s only when I make them elaborate that they begin to stumble with the question.
Because really, when they ask about condoning what the Christian community has reduced to “homosexuality”, there are certain underlying assumptions that are usually accompanying that question.
There is the assumption that they know definitively when something is “wrong”, and that they also have a right to rank some wrongdoings as being worse than others. And then there is the assumption that they have any right to judge in the first place.
Neither of those assumptions is validated by biblical teaching. Yet those two assumptions, the right to designate and rank wrongdoings, and the right to judge others, have become so commonplace that they are accepted as true.
What they think is going to be a discussion about same-sex relationships instead becomes a conversation where the entire gospel is brought into perspective. It’s the only way for me to share my perspective with other Christians about what I’m doing and why I’m doing it.
I guide my heart and my actions based upon the simple principle to love God and love people, above all else. But that can be very hard to explain, even though it shouldn’t be.
This fight is about so much more than gay or straight. It’s about seeing God’s unwavering love for people and working each day to reflect that love. For me, it’s about reflecting that love in a community I identify with, a community that has been marred by religious prejudice and unjustified moral superiority.
I know that getting other Christians to see my perspective is going to be a very slow process, and for a lot of people may never happen.
But the effort is not futile.
I know this already because one of those girls from my bible study that I came out to, a girl that I had just met, came to the Pride Alliance community welcome event that we hosted this past week. She came to support me, and to learn about the work that I’m doing as a part of the LGBTQ community.
Some Christians are willing to learn more about what I’m doing, even if they may not understand it or agree with it yet.
But the willingness to learn more, the willingness that other Christians have to at least hear me out, makes this fight worth it.
It makes me feel like it’s possible to begin to bridge the gap between these two communities here on campus. Even if the process is painfully slow, the process is happening.