Someone once asked me why God would “let” any Christian question their sexuality. Their tone of voice, I have to admit, was similiar to when my mother admonishes me for letting my kids go out of the house “in THOSE clothes”. You know, because there is nothing worse than being embarrassed as a mother by what the kids choose to wear or, conversely, being a congregation where someone might be gay. I didn’t answer that particular friend right away. I believe I let out a long-suffering sigh and said, “I love you anyway”, and changed the subject. But the tone of the conversation has stuck with me, as has the question itself. Why would God let any of His children out of the house gay? What point does it serve?
I believe that there is a reason, a time, and a purpose for everything. I don’t believe that anything that happens to us is accidental. I believe that every doubt and challenge that we face as individuals is not only intended to bless us, but to bless the greater body with our experience. I believe that when someone struggles with their addictions, I believe that when someone experiences a new call in their life, I believe that when someone feels a pull to exercise a talent, or when they realize after years of living in the same patterns that those patterns have been destructive. I believe that when a sixteen year old girl starts to feel the tug of her sexuality and questions who she is meant to be as she stops being a girl and starts being a woman. I believe that even when a 35 year woman admits that the reason she never dates men is because she is attracted to women. It is good, because it causes us to confront our preconceptions. It causes us to ask what is important. It causes us, all of us, to grow.
Growth is uncomfortable. Look at the way that seeds sprout. First, you see a curve of green poke out of the earth. Watch, and you’ll see that small bit of green writhe as it works to pull out it’s leaves and spread them. It sometimes takes days of the seedling struggling against the earth and the encasement of the seed itself before those first leaves finally open. Growth takes effort, it takes time, and it takes challenge. As Christians we grow not just because of what we aspire to, but because of the challenges that aid our journey every day. Getting to our end goal is not a walk on a rainbow bridge up to the sky. It is a walk through the world, a walk through everything that makes the world good and beautiful as well as everything that makes it painful and pitiful. I think the challenge of dealing with homosexuality in some ways encompasses both of those things. The rejection of homosexuals by the Church shows us everything painful and pitiful and at times detestable about our humanity. But, when people who question their sexuality are embraced and supported, and loved by the Church, it shows us everything that is good. I have always wondered how it is that someone can own up to a gambling addiction and the Church embraces them. Someone can admit to being a liar, the Church embraces them. Perhaps, as one person pointed out, that is because they do it in a repentant state. But then what about the unrepentant gossips that use their talent for digging up the dirt on everyone to run the prayer circles? Not only is their penchant for gossip not reprimanded, it’s abused by the Church! What about all of the many people who idolize clothing, television, wealth, themselves, sports, God only knows what else? Again, we tolerate it because we understand it and because most of us who are honest struggle with it ourselves. What about the people who deal with rage? Jealousy? Plenty of Christians don’t “struggle” with anger and envy so much as just live it out, but again, the Church manages to turn a blind eye to it. Yet, heaven help the 14 year old boy who admits, in a shameful whisper, that he isn’t attracted to girls.
I believe that God gave me a son who struggles with anger to teach me to love and accept him with all his faults, and to teach me patience, and to teach me a lot about myself and my own failings. I believe God gave me a daughter who wants to be a princess for the same reasons. I believe God gave the church gay people for the same reason- not because they need us to save them, but for the opposite reason. We need them to save us from our failed belief that it is our job to dole out conviction. We need them to save us from our hypocrisy. We need them to save us from the hubris of thinking that we know who God created them to be, and we know what it is that they need to struggle with and become. We need them to teach us patience, love and acceptance, and that GOD who is the great I AM is the only force in this universe that has the right or even the ability to convict someone of their sins. We need to learn to let God do His thing in His own time. We need them to teach us that being gay is not the worst thing to be, and does not deserve to be judged more harshly in our eyes than our own failings.
We need them to teach us what loving our brother is really all about.
We need it desperately.