Monday, September 26, 2011

Why homosexuality is personal to my generation

For my parent's generation if you were white and middle class, it really wouldn't be surprising if you didn't know anyone gay. Not so for my generation.

I've heard people say that the gay community has become mainstream because of a strategic plan to infiltrate the public eye via the media. They say what was once considered deviant behavior is now considered acceptable because kids see it in the news, in the paper, and constantly on sitcoms and in movies.

There may be truth to that, but it's sort of a non-issue for me.What I do know is that the way you perceive any group changes when you know someone in the group personally. And so, particularly for an older generation of Christian who grew up when homosexuality was hidden, you may not know what it's like to be us, a generation who has grown up not only with homosexuality in the media, but much more personally as co-workers, classmates, and friends.

For me, homosexuality was an issue thrown around as an insult, an identity, and an issue in our public grade school and middle school. It became personal in college when I took a job at Blockbuster. Nick was the guy I worked with most often. He was a high school kid, Italian-American with a controlling mother. He was talkative and extroverted and openly gay. He told me he loved to dress in drag for parades on the weekend. He was dramatic. He was also my friend. We talked about his life and mine, about being gay and why I was a Christian.

Many more people followed Nick as gay friends in my life. I worked in event planning and hospitality. Plenty of my fellow servers in college were gay. When I moved into the office three of the very best event planners were gay. Two of them were perhaps the most outwardly stable people in the office and they exuded respect for others and a sweet spirit. They had both also been with their partners longer than most of the marriages in the office. Now I'm in the life stage in which those around me in the evangelical community are starting to come out of the closet. Missionary kids and Bible college students are coming forward with their stories. 

So for me when we discuss the theological importance or the biblical position on homosexuality, it isn't an impersonal discussion. It applies to Nick and Brian and Brit and Jessica and Michael and Suzi and Chris and Grant and Igor, and others. What I hope this does to us is make us tread carefully, understanding that what we are saying and analyzing and theologizing over is central to the identity of people, real people that we know and love. We care for their souls first and foremost. All of this doesn't necessarily change what we believe about right and wrong unless what we believed wasn't well thought through in the first place because it wasn't personal yet.

What frustrates me is when I see Christians passing judgement about homosexuality without knowing that their words cut deeply. I find myself wishing that they wouldn't speak until they have a friend that's gay. It's just as if you were having a conversation with your spouse or a close friend and you have to honestly confront them about something. You know they will disagree or be hurt by what you have to say but this doesn't give you the right to slam down your opinion and walk away without caring about the effect of your words. Even when we disagree we are responsible to interact lovingly, honestly, and with a listening and humble ear. That's the effect that having gay friends has on me. I don't think that gaining love and gentleness necessarily means that we have lost our grounding in truth.


CM said...

I agree! I have too many faces of too many lovely people that pop into my head during discussions of homosexuality to be able to see it the same way that, say, my grandparents see the issue.

Jaimie said...

I like how times they are a'changing. I think the next generation will be the one that admits that being gay is not a problem with God at all, and that homosexual purity is as important as heterosexual purity, and that a committed homosexual couple is on the same spiritual plane as a committed heterosexual couple. I've researched the (4?) Bible verses that supposedly speak against homosexuality, and they're so very weak. Like the stuff they use to shut up women. They speak against molestation and rape, yes, but to say that they mean two adults can never have sexual relations based on gender is to go against the spirit of the Bible, in my understanding.

Kacie said...

Yeah, Jaimie, times are changing. I can't get around the biblical passages easily, and I want to be careful that I'm not just trying to "get around" them anyways. However, regardless of what I think about right and wrong, these are humans and friends that I will approach in love.

Melissa said...

Thank you for remembering to love.

Jaimie said...

Yeah, I guess there are some passages I'm okay with getting around. Like how I don't think the Bible is the go-to book on science or psychology, I don't think it's the go-to book on human sexuality. (I don't debate the Bible has much to say about our behavior, just that the morality therein is consistently about motives.)

Charlotte said...

The thing is, it's not just about individual homosexuals that we know. (And what you say about those individual homosexuals is a good and great reminder, by the way.)

Rather, it's ALSO about organized groups of homosexuals. When people get together into groups, strange things happen. They become emboldened, they engage in group-think, they strategize, their vision can get clouded or become tunnel. They fractionalize, fraternize, they politicize. Throw some money in and turn up the heat. Over time, people forget their souls and pledge allegiance to the cause, and then it becomes that nothing is allowed to stand in the way of the cause. People, lives, and rights get trampled.

The same has been alleged of Christians, interestingly enough. I ascribe all of the above to the gay rights and homosexual marriage movements.

Yes, there are individual people who make up those movements. But the movements themselves are steamrollers of destruction, having lost their way. I would know - I used to be a part of it, way back in the beginning, in the 1980's. It was nasty and devious and self-centered then - organized gays were a huge part of the reason I looked deeply into myself to discover who and what I really was.

Today? It's 100 times worse than even then.

Love one another, OK, fine. Lately I've softened up my rhetoric a whole lot on the gay issues because I've re-thunk it all ala what you talk about in this blog post. I agree with what you wrote here, absolutely.

But the wholesale destruction of the meaning of family and the total ignorance of everything we know to be true about human development (i.e. children) and the roles of male and female in that development is inexcusable on the part of the organized gay community.

Our culture has turned on the authority and care of God our "father." It's no wonder that homosexuals are more than eager to turn on the concept of authority and care of father and mothers for their own conceptions of parents. The two - God and parents, authority and care - are related, you know.

HopefulLeigh said...

Excellent points and very well written. My first openly gay friend definitely challenged my beliefs. I knew what my childhood church said wasn't loving but until I was in relationship with my friend, I didn't realize how unloving and wrong that church's attitude was. It's years later and I don't have any grand conclusions about the intersection of faith and homosexuality but what you've written here resonates.

Kacie said...

I would argue that the meaning of marriage and family is empty outside of the church anyways, it doesn't take a homosexual movement to change that.

It may have to do with our view of the role of the church in society. I would view the church as sort of subversive - and so I don't care how much society is taken over by organized homosexual groups as you describe it. I see society as lost regardless - and I see the hope not so much in changing society as much as drawing people into the church.