When A Fundamentalist Loves a Gay Person . . .

28 Feb

I had an hour-long discussion online with one of my college friends the other night.

It was an amazing exchange.  I think I cried the entire time. 

Maybe my friend did, too.

You see, I am a fundamentalist Christian.  A Baptist.  I believe God inspired every word of the Bible, in its original languages, and that God never changes.

My friend Scott, while having been married to a woman in a relationship that produced four children, now identifies as a gay man and is in a gay marriage up in Canada.

Our conversation, carried out in public on his Facebook page, concerned the issue of states trying to pass laws to protect business owners from being compelled to serve as photographers, florists, or bakers for gay weddings. 

We differed on that issue.  However, the amazing aspect of our conversation that I haven’t seen in any other exchange thus far is that we both understood the viewpoint of the other and could explain it, while disagreeing with it. 

That, and the fact that we held our entire exchange with the respect due between old friends, never once slipping into snarkiness to score a cheap shot, as such public conversations always seem to do eventually. 

Scott was once a pastor.  He can explain many of my theological points just as well as I can.  He just has different beliefs now.

And while I could explain that Christians cannot be separated into parts so that they can leave their beliefs about gay marriage at church and live out another reality during the week, I also could totally understand that Scott cannot be separated into parts either. 

He perceives that a company refusing to photograph his wedding earlier this year would have been exercising discrimination against a relationship that he regards as just as legitimate as a heterosexual marriage.  Even if it were my company and he could understand intellectually why I hesitated to photograph his ceremony, the refusal would still hurt him.

In fact, when he saw my original post about photographers who only wish to shoot heterosexual marriages, it distressed him so much that he was distracted at work for the rest of the day. 

And that made me sad at such an elemental level that I not only cried as we communicated, but I felt as though I were going to throw up.  I would not hurt a beloved friend like that for any amount of money. 

Only I did.

We went through a lot of theological scenarios.  And I reiterated that, just as I cannot be divided into parts, and Scott cannot be divided into parts, so the Saviour and His Scriptures cannot be divided into parts.  It would be so much easier if we could just do that, or if we could de-emphasize the parts of Scripture with which we have a hard time. 

But such is the integrity with which man and woman have been created, modeled on the integrity of God Himself, that we cannot be divided.  One part of us, whether sexuality or religious beliefs, can’t be given a lower priority than another part.

They all make up the essence of who we are.  Therefore, it feels like a wrenching inside of us when someone else, even a beloved friend, would suggest that we can just leave an essential part of ourselves behind.   

There are no easy answers here, folks.  I know that Scott and I are both still works in progress.  God never changes but we are undoubtedly not now the people we will be when we die. 

In the meantime, however, I believe we are the very best kind of people to talk publicly about this issue because we love someone deeply who is on the opposite side of the issue.

I would say this discussion needs to be conducted with tears running down both faces.  Until that happens, we are not truly listening, we are not truly understanding what that other person, also made in the image of God, is trying to convey.  

There are no easy answers here.  I understand that, by the mere suggestion that a gay friend would consider celibacy to honor God’s image in him, I have asked of him one of the hardest things to do and one that would be nigh on impossible for me as a married woman. 

If I don’t see that, I could be guilty of the most obstinate hypocrisy—expecting others to obey God on a much more elemental level than I myself am willing to do. 

What hard things am I willing to do to honor God?  It is a fair question and one I hope gay people will feel free to ask of their fundamentalist friends. 

May we long continue this conversation as a respectful and loving dialogue. 

I love you, Scotto.

 

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One Response to “When A Fundamentalist Loves a Gay Person . . .”

  1. Jan Alkema-Pagan March 3, 2014 at 12:03 AM #

    I have struggled with this issue but resolved it in my mind (admittedly, somewhat looking for a reason to support my several gay friends, who I enjoy, and have a hard time taking in the possibility that these committed relationships are wrong) by acknowledging that I am NOT a literalist, especially when it comes to the old testament. I mean, doesn’t it seem to be ok, biblically, to have multiple wives, and prohibited to eat certain “unclean” foods? And to rest on Sunday, meaning not letting restaurants and stores serve you? I know I will lost any contest with you in scripture quoting, but that is my question, how do you resolve that. Or is this New Testament scripture?

    From observation and what I read, it appears that most gay people seem to have been “born that way”. Many have known about it from a very young age and genetics seems to be involved. So from that point of view, if God made gay people gay, then why would he make this to be wrong, any more than it is wrong for any other non-standard trait to be wrong? The promiscuous “cruising” lifestyle would be a sin in any gender combination. But is it their fault any more than it is my fault that I was born to be introverted, or blonde, or hard of hearing?

    What I DO struggle with is gay parents of their own, or very adoptable, infants. If even from a purley psychological standpoint, I can’t get past that every child should ideally have that same sex/opposite sex role model and relationship, to learn how to relate in the world. So while I have watched some very outstanding same-sex parenting, I wish they would only adopt older or special need kids. Yes, they can be very outstanding parents, as can single/divorced parents. But I can’t get past having this as a planned, desired situation.

    Love your posts, they make me think, even when at times I don’t agree!

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