Like most sane bloggers, I try my hardest not to read the majority of Internet comments. Especially on articles that have anything to do with religion, homosexuality, politics or the holy (or un-holy depending on who you ask) trifecta of all three. Recently, though, I caved and peeked on an article posted for a online magazine for which I sometimes write. One of the comments stuck with me. The article compared the civil rights movement of the past to the civil rights movement of the present. The past being African Americans, and the present being gays. The commenter, a friend of mine, said,
"For the record, I have two gay Facebook friends, one professing Christian, and the other I have known since 5th grade. I had a gay boss for 7 years, best boss I ever had; I think highly of him. These truths do not have the ability to change my mind about what God has said, nor should they." (emphasis mine)
As someone who grew up in the church, and has been a Christian since I was a small child, "What God says" is something I don't take lightly. There is a Bible on my nightstand next to my husband and my bed. We believe, like most of our friends, in the saving grace of Jesus. Most every Sunday we attend church. The difference though between me and my Internet commenter friend is that after church there's a strong chance we'll be grabbing lunch with my best friend Danny, and his long-term boyfriend Michael. And I have no problem with their relationship, whatsoever.
It wasn't always like that.
Up until Danny came out to me, I was, at best, ambivalent toward homosexuality and, at worst, convinced that it was indeed what James Dobson told me: a choice and a sin. But having someone that close to me confess something that huge made me examine what I believed to be true, and why. Before his coming out, homosexuality was just a political issue, a hypothetical to be argued over dinner with friends. He was my friend though, my closest, and that reality made it clear -- this wasn't an issue, this was people, people like Danny, who I love like family.
I poured over my Bible, searching it for answers, becoming discouraged by the so-called "clobber" passages. The supplemental books I ordered on Amazon, and conversations I had with religious "elders" all seemed to tell me the same thing -- that Christianity and homosexuality were mutually exclusive; you could be one or the other, but not both. The more time I spent with Danny, the less convinced I was. So I turned to the one place I had somehow forgotten to turn: God himself.
After every talk with Danny, or sermon that seemed to condemn him, I prayed. I asked God if I had to choose between being supportive of Danny, or being a "good" Christian and encouraging him to "flee his lifestyle." I re-read the passages, only this time I read the chapters and books surrounding them, looking for the purpose in what the author was saying. Over time, what became clear to me was that the Bible was never meant to be used to "clobber" anyone. There was a reason why God, and Jesus specifically, used relational stories and parables to get across His message. Not just because God loved people. But also because God knows that the best way for people to learn, change and grow is from relationship. I started to believe what I believe now, that wanting Danny and Michael to have the right to get married did not mean I was not a Christian, or that I was "misinterpreting" the Bible. It meant I was interpreting it the way that God had led me.
I do not believe it a coincidence that Danny and I became friends over a decade ago. I'm thankful every day that God gave me a best friend who had the courage to be who he was made to be. More than anything, I'm grateful that this relationship has been the filter I've needed to view God's teaching on the issue of homosexuality. Like President Obama, I've realized that it's OK for my views to "evolve." This "evolution" has given me the ability to see what so many of my Christian peers have not. That until you have someone close to you come out, or become good friends with a gay person, you will never be able to fully grasp what it means to tell someone "this is why the Bible says you can't get married."
Anyone who has a good grasp on the Bible knows that it's main purpose is not just to give instructions and rules. It's also a story. One that leads to a man whose life was dedicated to loving the world so much that he died for it. Before using the Bible to take rights away from anyone, I'd encourage my commenter friend, and those like him, to think about how this man spent his time on Earth. Living, working and loving the people he most wanted to affect. Not from far away, but up close and personal.
It appears to me then that what God said is that we should do the same.