One Step Forward (God’s Movement in My Life Regarding the LGBTQ+ Community)

IMG_4560Before you read this, I want you to first be aware that I am absolutely NOT an important voice in the LGBTQ+ community. I personally don’t find any straight voice to be very important on these issues. I have provided more voices at the bottom of this blog because I think it’s more important to listen to the voices of those who have experienced these challenges, and a few of the ones who have helped me the most are Eliel Cruz and Kevin Garcia (also the people I know in real life.) I have not experienced challenges or oppression for my sexuality or my gender identity. I decided to share my story for the purpose of sharing my story and in hopes that maybe someone can be encouraged or enlightened, and to explain why I arrived at the (seemingly) radically different views that I have arrived to. I may still be wrong in some ways, and may not use appropriate language. I asked two close Christian friends who are part of the LGBTQ+ community to read and review this, so I’m hoping it’s affirming and encouraging to such an important community.

Now, for my story.

Long story short? I used to openly say that gay people shouldn’t be allowed to be married and said “ew” out loud if I saw two men or two women kiss. I thought homosexuality was a sin, but I believed that people could just “pray the gay away,” and that salvation was not impossible. After all, I reasoned, sinners could be Christians.

Ick. Though I’m sure this stance sounds familiar. At the time, it felt generous.

I now think two women should be married in a church building by a pastor without any controversy. It sounds like View A to View B, but it isn’t. It was more like View A to B to C to X to 384 to O. And the truth is that my journey in an ability to love and accept is not over, as there are still past prejudices inside of me that I must constantly be aware of and work through. However, it’s a big enough leap for people to ask me “How did you get there?” in hopes that maybe their family can too. So that’s why I share where I was.

Let’s go back to 2005. I’m 14 years old and just started going to a public high school of over 3,000 students, after graduating from a Catholic K-8 of 300 TOTAL students. I was so excited to be out of Catholic school, but my first experience in the locker room kind of freaked me out. Within a couple months, I found out that one of my new public school friends I had PE with was bisexual. I panicked and wondered if she’d hit on me. And how could she be bisexual anyway? Weren’t all non-straight people perverts? She wasn’t a pervert. She was my friend. Then another close friend came out as gay to me, and I was one of the first handful of people he told. He was also my friend, and totally one of the best people in the whole world. In fact, he was more loving than any of my Christian or Catholic friends. What did I do with that information? And then another new friend in my history class cut her hair super short and I started avoiding her because I was worried that she was a lesbian, which I thought was gross.

I started getting more and more involved in a Protestant church, and I started hearing a lot of “love the sinner, hate the sin” which sounded nice, so I jumped on board. I was PROGRESSIVE!!!!! I would love my sinning gay friends, who weren’t in active relationships, which made it way easier on me, because I was clearly the most important person here (sarcasm). Gay marriage was legalized in California and then there were the props against it, and I started thinking that maybe OUTSIDE the church, “gay stuff” was OK. I still thought it was a “sin” and “separated people” in the “eyes of God,” but my gay friends weren’t Christians, so I was able to separate it. I still thought that in order to be a Christian, one had to fight against non-straight or non-cis “feelings.” Something in me knew that this view would be challenged soon.

2011, I think was the year. A close Christian friend from church started her first ever relationship… with another woman. In fact, this friend was that same girl from my freshman year history class that I stopped talking to when she cut her hair short. Oh, life. You’re funny. When she came out to me, my instinct was “I love you even more now because you are able to be vulnerable with people and with me.” I was mildly surprised by my response, and then also quickly prideful. Oh, how loving I was! Yet, I STILL thought what she was “involved in” was “sin.” But my love for her was the best I could do, I thought. I couldn’t “encourage” this type of life, I thought. I did not affirm it. I struggled with how I could love her and “enable” this behavior. I decided it was enough for her to know that I thought being gay was a sin, and I wouldn’t bring it up.

Another close friend of mine told me that if not for me, he’d probably hate Christians. I remember processing this with less pride, and more thoughtfulness. He gave credit to me where I knew credit was not deserved. The love that he felt was God’s love through me despite of me, not because of me. And I remember that he too was wanting to be Christian and experiencing conflict in both Christian community and also the LGBTQ+ community. My heart was starting to break, but my old views held firm. After all – was Scripture not clear?

2013, Fall Semester at my Christian University. My doubts in God and in faith were at an all-time high. Scripture was being questioned left and right, and the truths of racism, of oppression, of so much was being exposed in my worldview. How could God allow death of those who were wonderful people but did not identify as “real Christians” in my own eyes? What makes a loving God someone who allows for this and for people to be born in wildly different environments without any sense to it all? What makes sense about a God that we say loves all of us equally, but doesn’t let women lead or let people who are gay and in love be happy? If my best friend wanted to marry the man of his dreams and live in a committed relationship, why were politicians that were cheating on their wives or wanting divorce for all reasons telling him that he couldn’t have that?

A new idea was presented in one of my classes: perhaps this world is not falling apart. Perhaps God is bringing order from chaos. Perhaps there is a slow, slow progression of a God who is constantly moving us forward into order.

That made sense, Scripturally, to me. And if I believed that, I realized, then I could say “gay marriage” wasn’t sinful. After all, it was bringing order from chaos.

After I left my university, I didn’t go to church for awhile. It was in this time period that I started to read more stories and listen to people who were different from me. I credit a lot of this to Tumblr, as it gives voices to those who are often silenced in mainstream media. Instead of thinking it wasn’t real because I didn’t experience it myself, I learned to listen and to believe people’s experiences.

One day, as I thought “And I wonder, is being gay a sin?” while I read another story of a teenage boy who was assigned female at birth who had killed himself, and I read about the parents who refused to refer to him as a “he” and had sent him to “Christian” camps, I asked myself… “Which would I rather be wrong about? Would I rather say being gay is a sin and be WRONG… and have these lives on my hands? Or would I rather be an advocate, fully accept, and become affirming? And then if I’m wrong… then I’m wrong. I’ll stand before God and be wrong, but at least I loved and affirmed people for who they really are.”

At the time, I was willing to stand before God and be wrong because I thought THAT was more loving than anything else. I decided to believe people who told me that it was the only way to truly love. I decided that this did not mean I was on a “slippery slope” of accepting pedophiles or beastiality, because neither of those things are even slightly similar.

Since then, I have “backings” so to say. I believe that the Gospel exposes a progressive God who brings Her people along one step at a time. I believe the Bible is all about that. “What you have heard is this, but I say that,” is a theme we see on repeat. God brings Her people forward, and forward, and forward. So I believe that we are only moving one step forward, as a culture, as we learn that homosexuality is not a sin. And that if someone says “I’m a woman” but was assigned a male sex identity at birth, we don’t see anything wrong with that. It’s their experience, and it’s important. God is only bringing us to a fuller understanding of Her love for all people. So in that way, I believe it to be Scripturally-supported through the character of God and Jesus.

On top of that, there is LOTS of research and evidence against what is called the “clobber” passages of the Bible. In other words, our translations are imperfect and bias, and we can learn more as we have better understanding of the context, culture, and translation. Below are more prominent voices that speak on some of this, as well as a shout out to my own pastor’s book that is coming out. If you NEED Scripture to not condemn it, that’s a place to start. I’m excited to read it. There’s plenty of views of what Scripture is saying, backed by scholars, that is different from how I was raised.

So my story? It’s progressing. I know I still have forward movement that will be led by a loving and patient God. I don’t think my views have “flip-flopped” because I think that they have simply grown in love, and have changed due to growth and understanding and education. But, perhaps more than anything else, they changed from listening and believing people who are not like me. I hope to keep growing until the day that I die… and maybe past that too.

The following are fascinating to read, listen, and interact with regarding these and many other issues:

Eliel Cruz (links to his blog) and other articles by him:
“I’m Sorry: God Adores You”
LGBT People of Faith: Why Are They Staying?

Broderick Greer and his twitter account

Kevin Garcia
“I’m in an Abusive Relationship With My Church” is a recent one that I found poignant, and it inspired some language in a blog I have sitting in my drafts right now

Candice Czubernat
She spoke at my church soon after I first starting attending, and she’s also got a podcast if you prefer that

Kenji Kuramitsu

Justin Lee
I recently shared a post of his called “Three Ways I Was Wrong… and How We Can Get It Right”

Matthew Vines, author of God and the Gay Christian

Other Resources:
Human Rights Campaign: Religion & Faith
The archives of Bedlam Magazine, which is I found people like Kevin Garcia in the first place

And as promised, my (straight) pastor Colby Martin’s book: Unclobber: Rethinking Our Misuse of the Bible on Homosexuality 

Advertisements

Comments

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s