I have thought about writing this post for a long time. A super long time. But every time I have felt like writing it, I have chickened out. This is a subject which is so sensitive, to me, and to many others. A subject around which surrounds so much hate, intolerance, and anger, (on every side of the issue) and I feel like I have no way to adequately express my opinion so as not to offend every single person I know. I have felt like the things I have to say may unintentionally hurt someone I love and respect.
I am talking about homosexuality. Homosexuality AND religion.
Is every one's "over-sensitive" subject meter going off? Everybody feeling defensive and slightly nervous to read what I am about to write? Of course you are. I know for a fact that people who have view points that border on the extreme polar opposites are reading this. That is why I haven't written it before. In stating my humble opinion in the matter, it seems that I will not be able to avoid offending either "extreme" position. Deeply personal viewpoints of people whom I love and respect may be challenged.
So why THE HECK would I write this?
I read someone else's post today and it inspired me. He talked about how he also had been desperately wanting to write a post about this subject, but could never quite get it right, never feel like he could express himself adequately. It seems like no matter what you say, a moderate, humble viewpoint won't seem like enough to satisfy the demands of those with a mind of the extreme. These are my words, not his, but his point was that if "we" as in those with moderate viewpoints, who don't feel hate, aren't expressing ourselves, than the media is simply satiated with those "extreme" agendas and messages. If we don't take responsibility for sharing a message of love and respect and TRUE tolerance and acceptance of individual people in the name of humanity, than who will?
Though I don't love EVERYTHING he stated, I really appreciated his point of view and loved so much of what he said.
Here is a quote from it that I love:
"I wish people wouldn’t cluster entire groups of people together and declare the whole lot unworthy of any love and respect."
More than anything I wish that.
If you want to read the article (and you should...I am going to try not to repeat his points and he makes some great ones), here is a link:
This article made me want to express myself. To help put messages of love and acceptance out there.
In my life, I have always had at least one gay friend. I suppose that my exposure to the "theater crowd" starting at age 4 exposed me to lots of different types of people. I have (since about age 12) always had at least one friend who uses drugs, one friend who is an addict in the most depraved sense, one friend with a foul mouth, friends who lie, and cheat, and yes even steal. Friends who are bitter, friends who are honest, friends who are Christian, Hindu, and atheist, who are funny, who are boring, who are crazy, who are judgemental, who are selfish and others self-less.
I have a wide variety of friends and I LOVE the fact that I have always been exposed to lots of different kinds of people. And to me it is so interesting to see how the categories overlap. I know Christians who are the most shinning examples of love and goodness, and I also know Christians who are the most depraved and selfish addicts and everything in between. I also know atheists who believe in the human family and who are incredible examples of kindness and genuinity (yes, I know that's not a real word), and others who are elitist and think that everyone who doesn't subscribe to their chain of thought is an idiot and whose thoughts and feelings are of no worth because they are labeled as ignorant.
What brings me SO much sadness in my heart is that so many of the people who I love and respect with all my heart are so critical toward each other.
When I decided to become a devoted member of the Church of Jesus Christ, I lost a lot of friends. Friends I had know for a lifetime abandoned me. Suddenly years of friendship meant nothing and I was lumped into a "group mentality" and thought of as one of those ignorant, judgemental Mormons. I was no longer an individual in the minds of some of my closest friends. They saw me as a sheep and forgot who I was, and our friendships died. Others told me that they didn't hate me, but that they hated my religion and everything to do with it (which clearly is a big part of who I am).
This broke my heart.
I can only imagine how my gay friends have felt to be similarly lumped into a group and persecuted more severely on such an intimate level.
Why does society do this? Why is it easy for people to hate entire groups of people? We lump them into a group without a face and tell ourselves that somehow, through some fault of their own, it is OK for us to look down on them.
This is not OK.
One person's choice's, intelligence, beauty, etc. does not merit them anymore worth than another. Yes we may view some opinions as more valid, view some choices as poor, but do these things make a person of more or less individual WORTH?
I guess that what it comes down to is whether or not you believe each person in the world deserves a measure of love and respect just for belonging to the human family, or whether you believe that has to be earned.
Seeing people preach hate hurts my heart. There is no other way for me to put it. It doesn't make me angry or bitter, it makes me want to weep. Watching people actively persecute all gays, or Mormons, or Muslims, or illegal immigrants, or democrats, or republicans, etc. makes me sad. Mostly it make me sad for them, to have given so much room in their heart to hate. For allowing themselves to lump individual people into a group less valid than themselves. I believe what Buddha said, “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”
In my own personal nirvana we would all treat each other with love. And friendship. And kindness.
However, I will settle for respect and tolerance.
Here is a brief description of my personal beliefs.
I am a Mormon. I am deeply devoted to my faith in Jesus Christ and to his teachings.
In the scriptures we are REPEATEDLY compelled to love God. We are told this is the greatest commandment and then we are taught that if we really do love God we will serve Him, and that the best way to serve Him is to love His children. There is no qualifying statement attached to that. Somehow the most simple and beautiful of all commandments can seem to be the most difficult for people. It takes letting go of your pride and realizing that nothing you do makes you any better than anyone else, and that can be a hard pill to swallow.
My goal is to live a life of love. Real love. Not politically correct love, or politeness, or fake acceptance of those around me, or secret judgement, but of true simple love for all of humanity. I struggle with being humble. I am sure that I always will. But I truly, with all my soul believe that God loves all his children equally and that regardless of what each of us choose to do with our lives we are all equal. But I do also believe that the choices we make matter.
I am so grateful that my belief, to the core of my soul, generates the idea that I am the judge of no man or woman. I don't have to worry about other people's sins. I also don't believe that there is a blanket rule for each sin. I believe that sin, intent, degree, etc will all be judged on a deeply personal and intimate level, by a Savior who has a level of love, understanding, and wisdom that I cannot even comprehend, but that I have felt. Because of this belief, I know that my only job is to be the best human being I can be. To love everyone around me. To not put myself above ANYONE for ANY reason. To try and let my life be one of love and happiness and to show people that the way to feel such deep love and happiness and peace is by knowing that you are living the kindest, most genuine, humble, and Christ-like life possible, by devoting yourself to being a genuine and good person.
In the end, we are all sinners and every person make their choices for different reasons. When it comes down to it, I don't care what sin you made for what reason, or whether or not you even believe in sin. To me people are just people and labels are unnecessary. Some of my best friends in the whole world, for whom I have the most respect happen to be gay, some happen to be Mormon, some happen to have gambling, drug, or pornography addictions. As long as their actions are not causing harm, they will always have a safe haven of love, friendship, and respect from me.
But that is just MY belief. And I am grateful to those around me, who believe differently, who challenge me, and keep me humble and well rounded. Who make me search deep in my soul to find what I believe.
Getting to the point
This post has turned into me rambling on a soap box and probably isn't doing anyone any good. But here is my point. Christians don't have to hate gays. Gays don't have to hate Christians.
Religion or lack of it, doesn't have to breed elitist bias.
However, if we want the gay community not to feel hated by Christians, we as Christians have to make it known that we in fact, and in practice, SINCERELY do not look down upon them as of less worth, or with hate in our hearts.
And conversely, to my beloved friends, who happen to be homosexual, if you don't believe in this divide, you should also make your point known.
It is hard to open up to someone with an opposing viewpoint for fear of backlash, of being mocked, rejected, and of having your point of view (which can be deeply personal and sensitive) demeaned.
But if we don't do it, who will?
If I don't reach out in love...who will?