Whether we think about it or not we make several choices each day. Some tend to be very simple and require nearly no thought. For example; What TV show should I watch? What should I wear? Should I walk or run? What should I have for dinner? These choices don’t have a lot of influence on our life, while outcomes could certainly take place, they aren’t heavy questions like; Who should I date? Should I drink? Should I go to church? Who should my circle of friends be? These questions have some fairly direct outcomes on our life, and could guide us in a right or wrong direction. There are other questions such as life decisions; Where should I go to university? What house should I buy? How many kids should I have? What role does my family play in my life? These questions are weighted pretty heavily and oftentimes seem to be the “fork in the road” questions that take us down one of many paths.
Each day we make a choice. These are the areas in our life we have direct control over and the ability to say yes or no. We also know that there are plenty of things we don’t have control over. The family we were born into, our skin color, how tall we are going to be, what language we are born speaking, and what country we are born into. One of my life motto’s right now is control what you can control and don’t worry yourself with things that our out of your realm of possibility.
I would argue that another fundamental characteristic of life that we do not have a decision in, is who we love. Certainly we can control how we act upon that love, what specific person we wish to share that love with, and how we set up boundaries to find that perfect one, but I strongly believe that who you find attractive is as fundamental as the color of your hair. After coming out, several people asked me when did I “decide” that I found men more attractive than woman. I often chuckle and wait for them to finish their question and respond rather candidly with “when did you decide that you liked someone of the opposite sex?” Most of the time people step back, and realize rather quickly there wasn’t a specific time that they “decided” to like someone, it was just natural and it happened. Like the rest of you, during my coming of age and journey through puberty, I developed a notice of men as being more than just guys to hang out with, but rather as people who I was attracted to and felt to have those more intimate connections with. For many of my guy friends it was as simple as realizing that woman no longer had “kudies” and now were attractive. Whether it be for physical reasons, intellectual reasons, or intimate reasons. That’s just how it was.
For many reasons we have interpreted through the lens of scripture that it is not “natural” for a man to like another man, or woman to like another woman. (There are certainly many avenues I could take in regards to Old Testament texts, but that can be saved for another time) We developed a theology that says that if someone does, they must suppress that feeling or be celibate. We deny the very right for a same sex attracted person to act upon their love for another human being, and would go one step further in requiring them to negate and ignore that feeling. This brings us to Matthew 7:17-18 when Jesus says, “So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit.” I won’t go into all the different verses today that I believe support my understanding of the Bible permitting same sex attraction, but I do want to point out a fundamental one that I often share when non-affirming Christians state that being gay is not in line with the Bible. When I was “praying the gay away” and fighting something that I thought was a temptation, every day I felt in front of God shame, embarrassment, loneliness, rejection, judgement, ridicule, and failure. No matter what I did or how hard I tried, those feelings for men did not go away, and it began to eat me up on the inside. Sure, I was involved in mission work, church work, evangelism, etc, and God honored and blessed that. But for me these were things that I did to keep my mind off these bad fruits that were bottling up inside of me. I wanted just as much as any person to have a life partner, get married one day, raise a family, and give honor to God through that. But because of how I happened to be wired, this was not going to be a possibility.
When I accepted that my capacity of love was not in violation to God, I no longer felt these bad fruits when I accepted that I had no choice in who I love, and that it was okay to desire love and commitment just like anyone else. What I CHOSE to do with that love, how I chose to conduct myself could certainly be destructive, but not the fundamental piece and capacity of love I was given. I can’t tell you why I love men, I can’t tell you why some of us inside and outside the church are drawn to the same sex, but what I do know is that should something bear bad fruit, I need to cut it down. And for me that was several years of trying to rid those feelings and hope that someday I would love a woman, and have the ability to marry under the confines of what Church Tradition dictated, not what God was saying.
While there are several verses to address, and I may address them little by little, my fundamental calling and desire is to see others like me who grew up in these non-affirming contexts understand and come to that same hope that I did. We certainly have control over some things, and those decisions could have grave consequences if ignored or chosen incorrectly. But there are certain things that we cannot control. If a tree bears good fruit, then it must be from God. I feel accepted not only by God, but I no longer feel each day that I am a failure, that I am lonely, embarrassed, or vile. I can focus on a true relationship with God, and not let something that is so fundamental to who I am eat me up. I can be thankful for how God created me, and gave me specific talents to bring glory to His name. To be a voice to many other gay people, that God loves us despite who we were wired to love, and that he cares so desperately for them to know there are communities that welcome them and accept them when so many others don’t yet quite understand this narrative of acceptance and Love.
We have a choice in how we respond to those attracted to the same sex. I challenge the church and its people to look and understand if that choice is producing good fruit with those who are gay, or if it is producing bad fruit that only demonstrates the enemies desire of division, hate, disconnect, mistrust, and vulnerabilities. We have a choice in following Jesus’ command of Love. As I spoke today on the phone with a good friend who is in a very similar place as I am at this current time, I mentioned to her how we seem to forget the agape love that Jesus demonstrated and commanded. True love shines through His people, and always makes us feel safe and welcomed. This love knows no boundaries, it keeps no record of being wronged, it does not rejoice about injustice, it never gives up, it never causes a loss in faith, and endures through every circumstance. Amen.