Thursday, April 21, 2005
Answering the Question
I love women. My most vivid memories tend to be intimate moments with the women who have come and gone through my life--not necessarily sexual, but intimate.
I can remember the feel of Cindy’s cold nose as she kissed my cheek. It was a snowy Colorado day--the day after a blizzard--and we were walking through snow up to our knees. She had beautiful eyes and a smile that, in memory, still touches my heart. When she stretched up to kiss my cheek, her soft skin brushed against me and I remember feeling a contented happiness.
I can remember my first date with Chris. When we got back to her condo, she asked if I wanted to come in for a bit. We talked for hours, looked through her photo album, and, finally, when it was time to leave I gave her a hug. She leaned into me; a fragile body holding me tight and smelling like oranges (she used soap from Mary Kay that always left just the slightest taste and smell of spices and orange on her skin). She kissed me on the neck--a surprising, sweet gesture that left me grinning and feeling that same little bit of contentment.
I have other little moments locked away in my head like that, some with my current girlfriend, some with Cindy or Chris or Joy. Little tiny things that define the greatest joys of my life. Most I could share in public, some I most certainly couldn’t; love and intimacy are never confined to purely sexual expressions.
And while some of my Christian brothers and sisters labor under the belief that homosexuality is a broken, sad, searching thing, I know the reality: it’s a very different expression of love only in that the genders aren’t mixed. Aside from that, the gay men and lesbian women I know want, and if they are lucky, have experienced those same moments of all-encompassing contentment that I did when I my marriage was good.
The feeling of support and companionship mixed intoxicatingly with someone who excites you intellectually and physically. Most Christians who latch onto the idea of homosexuality as a sin seem to think that the only path to being gay is a path of depression (or depression masked by flamboyant behavior). The monogamous, content, caring people that I have known would attest to the important truth that happiness and goodness can happen even in relationships that I don’t personally understand.
Let’s make that clear: while I have no problem identifying a good-looking man, I have no understanding of the sexual attraction that exists between two men. I just don’t get it. But I’ve also had straight male friends who were attracted to women that I could never have considered attractive. Preference doesn’t have to equal perversion; a gay man wouldn’t necessarily be able to fully comprehend my attraction to my girlfriend, either.
The thing that I want most to tell my Christian brothers and sisters is that gay does not equal broken--at least, not any more than straight equals happy and complete. Part of the conflict that exists for gays, and part of what keeps many gays teetering on the edge of depression, may well be the fact that we constantly have this conversation. The knowledge that they aren’t truly accepted at churches or in the minds of a good percentage of others can’t be easy. That kind of stress would make the chores of life even more difficult than they are normally.
Gay does not necessarily mean broken and most gay people don’t want to be “fixed.” They are happy with who they are, they just wish you were okay with it, too.
I’ve had a similar conversation before and I’ve had friends point out to me that part of what bothers them about gays is the gay lifestyle. The infidelity, the promiscuous behavior, and some behavior that it would be pretty easy to name perverse. My response, of course, is that you get all of the above in straight communities, too, and you can register your disapproval in both cases. Just because the occasional, otherwise straight, rancher or goatherd likes to do naughty things to sheep doesn’t mean that all straight men can’t be trusted with the livestock.
And if a gay man or woman can have a fulfilling, loving relationship while proclaiming the glory of God and living a full life, can their action really be a sin? Could Paul be wrong? I think Paul may have been wrong and I think that the new covenant stripped away many of the rules of the Old Testament. Ten years ago I wouldn’t have said these things, but between seeing both good and bad gay relationships and searching my own heart, I decided that there was no way that I could personally condemn homosexuality.
If God wants to condemn gays, that’s His business. For me, I no longer think of homosexuality as broken or perverse; I think of it as another, valid expression of love that can lead to fulfillment or heartache in the same manner as heterosexual love. I hope that my gay friends will experience those same, heartbreakingly perfect moments in their own romantic lives.
That is my answer to this question.