I write books for a market, a portion of which blames gays for the overall state of America. I remember going to the yearly Christian booksellers convention and seeing a huge banner on the way to the exhibition hall warning about the war on marriage, how these gays were chipping away at the institution of the family, dragging all of us down into the mire of their sinfulness.
Because last time I checked, I have a feeling there are other, more glaring reasons us heterosexuals are doing the job nicely for ourselves, thank you very much. We get ourselves into terrible debt. Have indiscretions. Spend all our time on the Internet. Ignore glaring problems in our homes. Teach our children to live for the next thing, then the next and live that way ourselves. And if we don't actually divorce, we grow apart and never do anything about it. Our divorce rate is pretty much spot-on with the rest of society.
Oh, those darned gays! Look at what they're doing to the moral fabric of our nation.
I used to think in what one might call more narrow-minded terms, but then gay men started appearing for no apparent reason. First, a young man who left home because he was outed came into our lives. Well, we knew him already and he was a good soul who needed a place to stay. So he came down. Fine.
Then a neighbor across the street became a friend. An "old gay" as I think of him, who knew what it was like to be extra-despised, to live in the shadows, to pretend. A lot. He appreciated the attitude of the younger generation. Not that it was easy being a gay man, it just wasn't what it used to be.
A gay couple moved in two houses down.
Good heavens, Lord? What in the world is going on here?
I felt like I was in trouble. Not because I didn't love my new friend -- they were easy to love. I just assumed God was going to ask me to change them. At that time I could comfortably shake my head at people's lifestyle choices, arming myself with the "love the sinner, hate the sin" mentality. After all, I was a sinner too. Lazy, critical, judgmental. As long as I was a big hypocrite, who was I to tell them they weren't all God wanted them to be?
So what exactly was God up to?
I laid myself down one night, exhausted from the day of being friends with gay people, of the inner struggle boiling inside me and I just looked up through the ceiling and the roof to the heaven I knew was above them and I said, "Well, God. If you've put them into my life to change them, then you've picked the wrong girl. I just can't do that, so sorry."
A lot of people I know hear from God on occasion. Sometimes God works through revealing circumstances -- perhaps we see the same word over and over, on signs, on television, hear it on the radio. Sometimes God works through other people, either their actions, through a conversation, or those times when they say things like, "I don't know why I feel compelled to tell you this, but ... " And then, blammo! I love it when that happens. I love that God is speaking all time if we open our eyes and ears. That's grace.
But every once in a great while, God's voice resounds inside your head soon after you ask a big question, or confess a weakness, or act like a know-it-all. And that night, I knew Someone other than myself said these words.
"Lisa. I just want someone who loves Me to love them."
It was so simple. And so beautiful.
So here they were, parading into my existence and feeling pretty comfortable in my home. I just loved them as people, and I think they loved me. They didn't come in and do white-glove inspection in my less than spic 'n span home. They didn't care about my sex life or question how I was raising my kids. They accepted me unconditionally for who I was.
When issues become people, you know you are in trouble.
Ask a lot of the people in the LGBT community and they will tell you that they feel more unloved by Christians than any other people. The people who follow the One who said, "Love others as I have loved you." Who told us all the law and the prophets summed up just like this: love God and love your neighbor as yourself. The people who worshipped the Jesus who said if we don't have love, it doesn't matter what else we do, we are and gain nothing (1 Corinthians 13).
All God was asking me to do was love people in my life who I already loved and who already loved me.
Maybe that's all God ever asks of anybody. And if that's the case, I'm thankful, because Lord knows, people have to do the same for me, every day.
I look at each of my gay friends, who are now just friends, and I am thankful that after all they've had to put up with from Christians these days, they even let me love them at all.
Oh, and by the way, "Love the sinner, hate the sin?"
How about we just love our friends and be thankful they don't hate our sin? Do any of us, gay, straight, tall, short, black-haired or blonde and any shade in-between deserve any less? Maybe if we spent less time doing the job we think God should be doing, we'd be doing the job God actually is doing. And maybe, just maybe, we'd learn to love like Jesus.