Friday, February 03, 2006

Have you stopped beating your wife yet?

Yesterday I read an article by Brian McLaren online about homosexuality, and later read follow-ups by different authors giving commentary. "McLaren is soft on the gay issue," one says. Another decries the absence of doctrinal purity in Christianity and uses Brian McLaren as an example. "The Bible says that homosexuality is a moral evil!" another one thunders.

What is my position on homosexuality? I'll answer that, but first, let's sit in the living room with a couple of lattes and just chat. I want to tell you a story.

Growing up I didn't realize that I had a relative who was a lesbian. We will call her... Eleanor. The subject was never talked about in my family. It wasn't until my teenage years that I finally put the pieces together and figured it out. Was I shocked? Was I appalled? Was I converted? None of the above. Eleanor was not and is not my "lesbian relative" any more than I am her "straight relative." She is just my relative. No qualifiers.

Several years ago my beloved aunt Evelyn had two heart attacks. I called Eleanor in order to get the latest information, but it was her partner who answered the phone. She, who was right in the middle of the situation, set aside her grief to see how I was doing. That made a lasting impression on me. My aunt Evelyn died that day. When I went to church the next Sunday, at a conservative Baptist congregation, I mentioned Evelyn's death when prayer requests were solicited. And again the next week. No one expressed any condolences or concern for my grief. Screw them. Kind of funny how the woman whom these Baptists would keep out of the kingdom of God expressed more Christian charity than they did.

At the memorial service and for several years after I got a chance to meet Eleanor's friends. Marilyn. Jim. Craig. Rick. Whether in person or by e-mail, these men and women treated me kindly. Oh yeah, one slight, unimportant detail- they were all gay or lesbian. And they didn't even try to recruit me. Gee, I don't think they're filling their quota.

It's kind of interesting when you meet people that you've stereotyped for years- they end up blowing your expectations out of the water. For example, when I first started going to a fundamentalist Baptist church I met my first "Bible-thumpin' fundies" for the first time. I looked for the horns and tails but couldn't find any. They were just regular people with stories like the rest of us. One woman had a husband in prison. One had a daughter with Down's Syndrome who died at four years of age. Granted, I later took issues with their theology and practices and decided that I couldn't follow that way, but I never hated them as people. And I still don't. My former pastor is still a good friend. I am always greeted at their church with open arms.

Eleanor was raised with the notion that you always had to do the right thing. If you didn't stand up for yourself now there would be hell to pay later. Eleanor's courage to always do the right thing made an impression on me last year. Her 86-year-old mother suffered a stroke, and Eleanor put her life on hold in order to act as nurse and cheerleader. Her mother proved to be from hearty stock, and she battled through grueling therapy, Eleanor constantly at her side. In April of 2004 her mother moved back into her apartment in Oakland, only to suffer a second stroke. At that point she knew that it was time to join the husband she walked through life with for 57 years, and she decided to die. Eleanor made her comfortable, gave her support, and did the one thing that it pained her most to do- she watched her mother die.

In the times in which we live we talk a lot about what makes a person a hero. We have heroes in the midst of tragedy, we have athletic heroes, we have war heroes. I believe that the courage Eleanor expressed in her mother's final days qualifies her as a hero. She would never allow me to use such language in describing her actions. She would immediately say that she was only doing the right thing- just as her parents taught her through their life.

What is my position on homosexuality? People never really want to hear my answer to that question, they just want to hear their answer. It's a loaded question without a "yay" or "nay" response. It's like asking someone "Have you stopped beating your wife yet?" when they don't even beat their wife. If they say no then they are in fact admitting to spousal abuse at some point. If they say yes, then they are still committing a heinous act. Either way they can't win.

So what is my position on homosexuality? Sorry, I'm not going there. I don't need to have a position on everything. I plead the Marines pseudo motto on this one- Love 'em all and let God sort 'em out.

2 Comments:

Blogger Jill said...

Visible sins always catch more flack that the more "common" ones. Would you love or hang out with anybody if you knew the inside of each cup?

10:30 PM  
Blogger SkiTheStars said...

Best and most Christian post I've read yet !

12:48 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home