Wednesday, October 6, 2010

God and Gay

Below, you'll find a large part of the text I recently sent to a good friend in an email.  I believe what I wrote speaks for itself, so no further explanation should be necessary.

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but, since the new school year began in the United States, a half dozen or so gay and lesbian youth committed suicide.  From my reading, I know the reason why these young people killed themselves was because of the relentless bullying they endured at school, which I've had some experience with myself.  I can't presume to know what goes on in the minds of people who bully, but I believe at least part of their motivation for doing what they do, in relation to gay and lesbian youth, originates in our culture's overall position that homosexuality is wrong, based on religious beliefs.  Really, where else would it come from?  It’s the moral judgment brought to the issue from people who use the Bible to justify their positions, and to believe in their souls they are right to put down a segment of people they don't understand.  

Where am I going with this?  All I want to say is, I’m upset even one boy or girl would commit suicide because of his or her sexual orientation.  Perhaps some religious people believe death is a rightful end for gays and lesbians, but, I have to ask, how can that be? Is that attitude the least bit Christian-like and acceptable?  Where is God’s love in their hearts for people who are different?  The God I worship defines LOVE.  The God I worship doesn’t judge people.  The God I worship isn’t about our differences.  The God I worship accepts us all as we are.  The God I worship doesn’t support what so many people believe, based on interpretations of the Bible to suit their purposes.  And, above all, the God I worship loves gays and lesbians, the same as he loves all people, because, in my case, He knows the love I have for Chris, my partner, and the life I share with him, isn’t wrong or morally corrupt.  It’s right for me, because that's who I am, and, in the end, it doesn’t hurt anyone else.

Like I’ve said before, who and what I am will never change.  I don’t believe if I want it badly enough and if I pray hard enough, I can be successfully converted from gay to straight.  Being gay is so ingrained in me, so much in the fabric of who I am, so much a part of every aspect of my life—in how I look at the world, in how I synthesize everything around me—that expecting me to change would be like asking a straight person to become gay.  And because I know I was born this way, and have no control over it, why should I not, then, be as entitled as any straight person to act on it, to find someone to love, to build a life with that person (which I’ve done), to be happy and fulfilled?  If I were like some gay men and had sexual encounters with dozens if not hundreds of other men, with no love involved, only to indulge in sexual release, then I understand moral judgment brought to that.  I don’t condone it either, in gays or in straights; I never have and I never will.  But I just don’t see how what I do, and what so many other gay and lesbian people like Chris and me do, in long-term, committed, and monogamous relationships, could be considered wrong.

Here’s the bottom line for me:  I think human beings judge me far harsher than God does, and, someday, they will be held to account for that.  I think God loves me just the way I am, and I try to live my life in a way that He would approve of.  If I’m wrong, and He doesn’t love gay people, or people who engage in gay behavior, and, when all is said and done, He deems homosexuality morally wrong and thus a sin, then my fate will be to beg for forgiveness, and hopefully to receive it, or to burn in hell for all eternity.  I have no choice but to accept this risk because I don’t see who I am and what I’m doing as wrong.  And I don’t believe I should live a miserable and lonely life, without Chris’s love, without the life we share together, for the possibility I will be in God’s favor on the appointed day and accepted into Heaven.  I don’t believe that’s what life on this earth is about.  I don’t believe it’s about suppressing who and what we are now, especially if I’m not hurting anyone else or jeopardizing anyone else’s soul, for the sake of eternal life.  

Part of the coming out process for me was negotiating my way around formalized religion in order to get to a place of accepting myself.  Raised a Catholic, I knew, according to the church’s teaching, being gay and acting on it was wrong.  I spent twenty-five years tormented by this, praying with all my heart, with all my soul, and with all my mind that I wasn’t gay.  I said to God, if you love me, you will not let me be gay.  You will not allow me to go through this pain, this anguish, this frustration, this self-loathing, because of something I have no control over.  Do I think God failed to answer my prayer because I ended up being gay anyway?  No, not at all. Do I think He loves me any less because I’m gay?  No, not at all.  Do I believe being gay, and everything that goes along with it, is a matter of free will—that is, gay people, like me, have the choice to act on it or not, based on what they and I believe is morally right and wrong? No, not at all, because I know who I am inside.  I know I didn’t consciously decide to be gay.  I also know I have no choice but to be who I am; the alternative wouldn’t be life at all.  So, if being gay is not a matter of choice, how, then, can it be wrong, or immoral, or sinful?  

When I was in the process of accepting myself, which took many years, I believe God helped me to see I’m all right just as I am.  I believe He helped me to arrive at the realization He loves and accepts me regardless of my sexual orientation.  And for the first time in my life, I found a glimmer of love for myself, and a glimmer of hope for my life.  For the first time, I saw I could be like everyone else, live my life like everyone else, experience love and passion, even though I’m gay.  I believe God loving and accepting me for who and what I am came in the form of me starting to love and accept myself. What was truly unacceptable to me was the way I’d been forced to live before this moment, enduring the self-righteous judgment from so many people who believed how they felt was how God felt, based on their corrupted interpretation of the Bible.  What was unacceptable to me was how I judged myself, as a result, to be so much less than everyone else, which led to years and years of self-loathing.  No one should have to live that way.  The pain is so real and so intense because you know you can't change, and because you can't imagine your life being any other way.  No wonder so many gay young people commit suicide.  They can’t see their way beyond what their lives are at that exact moment, and, with no hope, they follow through on the only option they believe is available to them.  What a damn shame the world will be deprived of everything they were.  What we've lost in inestimable.

Anyway, as I’ve said before, I believe with all my heart God doesn’t care a whit that I’m gay.  What He cares about is my soul, and, as far as I’m concerned, my soul is not corrupted because I'm gay.  People take different paths in life, some more unorthodox than others, but nothing says any one path is better than another.  As long as our souls remain in tact—as long as we are good people, live good lives, and keep God in our hearts—I don’t think He cares who we love or who we sleep with.  What does it matter? He has far more important things to concern Himself with than whether or not I’m gay. I don’t see how, under the circumstances, I could think and believe any differently.

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