Learning to love my gay neighbor, Part One: Preface

Learning to love my gay neighbor, Part One: Preface November 16, 2020

In my previous life as an evangelical Christian, I had what I considered a healthy apprehension about gay folks. It was for the sake of my kids (or so I told myself) that I preferred to avoid discussing “that subject,” and avoid acknowledging the existence of “those people.”

I thought I was doing the right thing for the right reasons: I didn’t want my children to think that was ok, mainstream, normal. If they did, who knows what it might lead to? I don’t remember having any conscious fear that one of my babies might “decide to be gay” because of exposure to someone gay (as if it is contagious), but a mom can’t be too careful!

I was all about “don’t ask, don’t tell.” I didn’t want any information about what went on in people’s bedrooms. If someone was gay, it meant one thing to me: their bedroom was a place of abnormal behavior.

From theoretical to actual

When my kids were in college, I saw on Facebook a photo of the best friend of one of my children. In the photo, this friend was in a non-platonic embrace with another guy. I didn’t know how I felt.  

This young man had spent many days in my home, and I loved him like a son. He was one of my favorite people in the world.

I called my child and asked immediately, “Is _____ gay?” My child hesitated for just a moment, and then said, “yes, he is.”

Now I knew how I felt. I said, “I love him so much. That’s all. I just love him.”

That fast, all of my evangelical Christian judgment of all the theoretical gay people in the world melted away. Why? I think it’s because for the first time, I saw gay people as just people. They’re not one-dimensional, sex-obsessed instigators, trying to lead my children astray.

In that moment, I realized that my evangelical upbringing had led me astray. 

Gay people are people exactly like me or my kids – or anybody else – with favorite foods, favorite shows, interests, hopes, and dreams. Like us, they are works in progress. In fact they’re not “they.” They’re us.

If it sounds like this change was quick or easy for me, it wasn’t. After that moment of awareness, I returned again and again to my original evangelical Christian anti-gay paradigm – but each return was shorter and more uncomfortable.

I know the Bible well, and I have grappled over and over with the verses that you might be thinking about right now, and the teachings we’ve all heard about them.

I’ve come to understand those verses in a new way, one that I believe is in line with God’s heart. Just as importantly, I’ve come to understand myself better, and the world in which I spent most of my life.

Over the next few posts, I’d like to share some of what I’ve learned.

I hope that, as I share my experience that I can only call “reformation,” you (or someone you know) will discover some of what I’ve discovered, but faster than I did, and with less struggle.

Several wonderful and godly people – some gay, some straight – have been patiently helping me on this journey. 

I don’t claim to have this issue all figured out by any means. I realize that I have a long way to go on this journey. But I invite you to read along on the series and see what you think! (You can subscribe to my newsletter here. Here’s Part Two and Part Three of this series.)

(Also, read about my journey on the abortion issue starting hereAnd/or read about how my husband and I are making a go of our interfaith marriage starting here!)

FEATURED IMAGE: “all the pretty colors” by demandaj is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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4 responses to “Learning to love my gay neighbor, Part One: Preface”

  1. Sara Maitland, in A Joyful Theology, clearheadedly comments that just maybe our God has bigger things to worry about than who does what, with what, and to whom, in the name of love.

    Full disclosure–I had a gay brother and have a gay son. Both, I am absolutely certain, are loved and cherished for their goodness, character, and Christianity by Christ. a
    As well as all who knew/know them in this realm!

    Sadly, my mother, a life long Roman Catholic, literally died of a broken heart after my brother’s tragic death. I could not convince her that her most wonderful son was not deserving of hellfire because of the way he was created. Years of wrong headed and wrong hearted teaching could not be undone.

    When will we learn that we are all, each and every one of us, totally beloved of a God who is closer to us than the air we breathe?

    Lyn B.

  2. What a wonderful epiphany when you saw that photo and realized that ‘we’ are all children of God and that we are all uniquely made. God does not make mistakes, we do as humans. I am a very proud follower of Jesus Christ and am also proudly gay and have been in a monogamus loving Covenant and now legally married for 53 years. My Husband and I always have and always will put God as the head of our household and relationship. He has never failed us. Only some friends and family have, but that is their loss. We know the end of the story and how our love and lives will survive in the Kingdom of God. That is all that really matters. Love your Children as God loves us all. Thank you for sharing. We are looking forward to reading more.
    Bob and Lloyd Peacock
    Vancouver, B.C.

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