Back when I was at Texas Tech – and we were actually good at football – a friend and I were headed to the game. It was five or six hours before kickoff and we wanted to get in line for a decent seat in the student section. My friend was quite a fast driver and we were unfortunately pulled over by the police. My buddy did not have much of a filter from his brain to his mouth and smarted off to the officer, “Don’t you have anything better to do than pull me over for five over the speed limit?” Needless to say my bud received a ticket and a hilarious lecture on respect.
Christianity is an evolving thing. We progress forward. Sometimes we take steps backward, but for the most part we move into the future. Typically we are a little behind the curve, but we get there eventually. Take slavery, for instance. The Southern Baptist Convention (the largest denominational body besides Catholicism in Christendom) was founded on the desire to keep slaves while other baptists were setting them free. Oops. A group founded on holding on to an old system of thinking – arguing and clamoring for something we know today to be wrong. We look back on slavery with disgust, but at the time it was not so black and white.
What about today? What are we arguing about and holding onto that we’ll someday look back on and think, “Didn’t we have anything better to do than argue about that?”
With that question in mind, I am coming out of the closet. Many in Christianity are far ahead in this regard. I have been there for a while, but now I do it publicly (for all five people that will read this). There is currently a great debate in Christianity regarding love. Who do we allow to love one another? Who do we “accept”? Who can come to my church as a couple? What families will we dedicate in our congregations? Who will we turn away because we don’t agree with their “lifestyle choices”? What about those “gays”?
My journey is like most who have shifted their perspective on this issue. I was staunchly against (yes I shamefully use the word against) homosexuality. I viewed it as disgusting – as against the will of God. Anyone that was gay was therefore that way because of a choice. A gay man really, in my mind at the time, was attracted to women but chose to like other men. Likewise someone who was gay could choose not to act on this desire because it was not natural. In fact, with enough prayer a person could no longer be gay. Oops.
I was fortunate enough to have a close friend, who is gay, sit down with me my freshman year at Tech and explain his life’s journey with me. That conversation and continued conversations absolutely changed my perspective. For the first time in my short journey of life I talked with someone who did not choose to be gay. He just was. And being gay did NOT define him just like being straight does NOT define me. It is part of who I am, but it is not my defining characteristic. Being gay is not his defining characteristic either. Since that time I have been fortunate to cultivate friendships with dozens of folks part of the LGBT community. While going to Tech I worked at the Student Counseling Center alongside brilliant Ph.D. counselors and psychologists who were gay. For the first time in my life skin was put on this thing called homosexuality. And it completely changed my world. My mind opened. My heart turned TOWARD people instead of away from. It’s funny what happens when we sit down with an actual person we stand “against”. We quickly realize people are people. We quickly realize that love is love.
In discussing this topic with peers the Leviticus passage quickly comes up: “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death; their blood is upon them.” – (Leviticus 20:13 NRSV). Proof texting at its finest, and I understand that perspective, but if we focus on one verse in Leviticus why don’t we focus on them all? If anyone is wearing a shirt with two kinds of fabric you are, according to Leviticus, sinning against God. If you eat fat you have sinned (I love fat on a good steak). You will die if you don’t keep your hair in check. You are unclean if you eat seafood or even touch fish without scales. If you go to church within 33 days of giving birth to a son or 66 days after giving birth to a girl, you have sinned against God. Trimming your beard or cutting your sideburns is a sin in Leviticus. Not standing when an older person is near is a sin. Permanently selling land is sinful. I could go on and on and on. Lots of these make absolutely no sense to us, but this is also 2014 and we aren’t Israelites. We live in a totally different context in a totally different time. Just like our ancestors who owned slaves lived in a very different time in a very different context. Thankfully we moved on from that. In fact, one could make a biblical case that slavery is OK. We know today that it is evil, but we have progressed. That’s the point.
We could continue the biblical discussion for years, which we’ve been doing, but that is not the point of this post. People will always disagree on interpretation. That is the nature of the Bible. That is part of the beauty of the text. I am just sharing my own journey in perspective change on this topic. These are our friends. They are our brothers and sisters. Our aunts and uncles. Our parents. Our children. This is our community, our humanity. These are people. This is who they are. Whether you agree with that last statement or not is irrelevant.
Who am I to tell two people who are in love that they cannot share their 401k at retirement? Who am I to say that one cannot receive the life insurance policy of their loved one at death? Who am I to say that two women cannot share the same legal rights my wife and I enjoy? Who am I to say that two men should not raise children together? This is America. This is freedom. These are people. This is love.
I am officially out of the closet. I support love. I support people. I stand with the love that two people share. I am with equal rights for a couple that desperately wants children and desires to take care of each other after their death.
We are moving forward. This will one day no longer be an issue. People on both sides can agree with that. That’s the story of God, though. Progress. Movement. We are headed somewhere. We are headed toward equality.
And so I ask, like my friend who smarted off to the cop, don’t we have anything better to do than argue against people who are in love? Aren’t there other things worthy of our time and desperation? I say so. I say time to move on. Let us be known for our love. Let’s find something better to do.