To my beautiful LGBTQ friends and supporters, a sincere letter from your Christian friend

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 26: Rainbow colored lights shine on the White House to celebrate todays US Supreme Court ruling in favor of same-sex marriage June 26, 2015 in Washington, DC. Today the high court ruled 5-4 that the Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage in all 50 states. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC – JUNE 26: Rainbow colored lights shine on the White House to celebrate todays US Supreme Court ruling in favor of same-sex marriage June 26, 2015 in Washington, DC. Today the high court ruled 5-4 that the Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage in all 50 states. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Dear friends,

This is the most difficult blog I’ve ever written. Get a cup of coffee, it is also kind of long. I’ve been working on it for several days.

I am a Christian, and I’m basically supportive of the Supreme Court’s decision to recognize gay marriage on a state and federal level. The reason why I’m supportive, as a bisexual friend of mine put it, as well as the world-renowned Christian author C.S. Lewis also put it, most people aren’t Christian and should not be expected to live Christian lives. God gave us free will, and I respect people’s freedom to choose.

Likewise, Christians are not secular and should not be expected to lead secular lives or believe in secular ways.

In 2013 I wrote a blog that went somewhat viral within my (small) sphere of influence, arguing that you could be a Christian, think homosexuality is a sin, and also vote in support of gay marriage as a constitutionally-recognized institution. It also ran as an op-ed in the Roanoke Times (which is no longer accessible on their site, maybe due to age or change in its leadership). It was well-received by both gay marriage-supporters and Christians who disagreed with gay marriage rights.

However, I intentionally did not address whether I thought homosexuality was a sin. Because at that time, I didn’t honestly understand enough. I heard a lot of convincing arguments from both sides, but wasn’t finding an answer that was well with my soul.

The truth is, I love my gay, bisexual, and transgender friends. I really love them. They are witty, fun, passionate, strong, and smart. They’re better people than me in so many ways. They’re better advocates for social change, smarter, more informed, cooler, dress better, and are more generous, to name a few ways, and some even share my values of monogamy and lifelong commitment (though I’ve found the latter to be a little more rare – even among my heterosexual friends).

My husband and I entertain these friends in our home. We have shared interests. They make us laugh all the time. We adore them — really adore them. (As I type this, my eyes are watering a bit as I think fondly of these friends. I also think of the struggle they’ve had to arrive where they are today.)

And this is why this is the most difficult (and lengthy) blog I think I’ve ever written.

I write this blog not to convince people to see eye-to-eye with me, but to contribute a little bit of understanding where I think it is severely lacking.

If you are a member of the LGBTQ community or are an avid supporter, can you be open-minded just for a few minutes as you continue reading?

Can you stride with me?

Can you allow space in your worldview for a different point of view?

Can you believe that someone can disagree with you and not be a bigot?

If everyone who disagrees with you on the point of sexual orientation is a bigot, and you see no way around that, then I invite you to leave my blog now.

I am not asking you to change. I am offering you insight into the Christian mind in a way you may not have heard it, in a way even many Christians have not heard it. I’m not calling you names and would prefer not to be called names.

I’m being extremely vulnerable with you here.

What I’m going to do is put sexuality in the context of the broad brushstrokes of the Christian faith and its basic themes. I’ll deal with how ideas of sexuality tie into the fundamental essence and big picture of the Christian narrative and identity of God. My goal today is not to pick apart texts.

The orthodox perspective, and why it’s so

What I’ve seen in blogs and Facebook posts and in conversations is that we Christians like to blurt out passages from Leviticus, Romans and 1 Corinthians that condemn homosexuality, that alone, without any context, sound hateful and judgmental.

But when I read these verses and passages, as an insider of the faith, that tone does not come across to me the same way. What comes across to me is an extremely high standard for God’s kingdom — which is still in transition — with the motivation behind the standard being an unconditional, unceasing, forgiving, merciful, graceful, heavenly love. I also know that I am guilty of pretty much every sin mentioned with this one — if not in deed, certainly in heart.

When I read these tough passages, I have better personal, cultural, and contextual resources to pull from than the person who engages the Bible for argument’s sake but has no relationship with or affection toward (the Christian) God.

My husband says hard things to me that instead feel difficult, but not mean, because they’re in the context of love. If any other person said these things, s/he may come across as a total jerk. But because of the love relationship, he can say things that no one else can and I’m a better person for it. I think Biblical text, to truly be understood, needs to be understood in this very relational way.

C.S. Lewis in his book, Mere Christianity, talks about when he was a child and had a toothache, he struggled with whether to tell his mom. He knew mom would give him an ointment that would curb the pain, and that would have been enough for Lewis, but he knew she would not be satisfied to simply treat the symptom. She would require a visit to the dentist who would identify the root of the problem, maybe a cavity or worse, and deal with the tooth accordingly. And it would probably be painful and extremely uncomfortable.

Lewis likens this to how God is with us. God is not satisfied to simply make us feel better, to put bandaids and treat symptoms. He will get to the root of us, and that is the more loving thing to do. It is an understatement to say that this is both uncomfortable and painful while he gouges out our body parts, metaphorically speaking. But because he loves us, he is very tough on us and doesn’t let us settle for less. If it needs to be amputated, amputate it, lest you proverbially die of gangrene.

The standards are high, the implications severe. Jesus says that if I should so much as THINK a hateful thought toward another human being, I’ve committed murder. Our very thoughts can be sin in Christianity, which makes me a hypocrite, murderer, adulterer, idolater, and more — If not for Jesus, I’d be beating everyone to hell! So don’t tell me I’m a good Christian. There is no such thing. Anything good in me is God’s handy-work, not mine. (Plus, you can’t read my thoughts.)

So what does this have to do with gay marriage?

Let me expound on the Trinity for just a moment.

Hang with me.

In Christianity, God is three persons, yet one sort-of in the sense that my husband and I are one. Father, son, and spirit. If you find the metaphor to be misogynistic, then use this one: Creator, Word, and Comforter. If you find the Trinity to be complicated, that’s because it is. (Perhaps not unlike quantum physics.)

As author Tim Keller puts it, love by its nature is not a thing that can exist in just one person (like the impersonal life force of Buddhism, for example). Instead, the very essence of love is an act between conscious persons. Thus, the synergy among the members of the Trinity is love and by nature the Trinity produces eternal and perfect love. All of creation is an extension of this, as we are invited to enter into this divine dance of love.

Understanding the Trinity is deep and I won’t go further than this for now. I’m still wrapping my head around it. But basically because the Christian God is a community, God can actually be love.

In the Christian faith, we believe that men and women are created equal and that both are uniquely and equally image-bearers of God the Trinity.

Likewise, in Christian marriage, there are three members: man, woman, and God — our combined nature intended to reflect the trinity. To be single is one thing, but upon entering physical intimacy with an earthly counterpart, in Christianity, to commune with the same rather than the opposite sex is to miss out on a fundamental piece of God’s very nature.

The Christian God doesn’t want men or women to be left out of the divine dance of love.

Can gays love each other? Absolutely! I have seen it. They can love better than heterosexuals in many ways — sometimes they’re more monogamous and faithful, sometimes a LOT more fun. But I might be so bold as to say that they’re missing out and falling short of God’s best, in this particular and essential way.

God’s ideal love for us is best understood when it’s inclusive and diverse, creating space for both genders to participate.

Inclusivity and diversity of gender in our love relationships are not the end all. That’s one (important) part, but not the whole pie. Heterosexual individuals, because we also have natural urges that are incompatible with the Trinity, still fall short in all kinds of ways, which I’ll also discuss.

Why would God create people who have attraction toward the same sex then?

I would say that he didn’t create people to have attraction toward the same sex, though it is arguably (post-Fall) now a naturally-occurring phenomenon.

Whether we think the events in Eden are theological story or actually did happen, we learn something really important about human nature from the story of the Fall. Given the free will to love God or not, we don’t. We put ourselves first, which doesn’t work with God — or with anyone for that matter — but especially with God. The ways in which this doesn’t work are exponential. We know it doesn’t work because even an atheist or moral relativist who doesn’t believe any of this will still angrily accuse someone of being selfish as if it is wrong (because it is).

God invited us into his song, and we’ve decided to march to our own tune and try to get everyone else, including God, to march with us. In fact, even religious people do this. (Though it appears to be the same, there is a big difference between people who make God their God, and those who make their religion their god.)

God could have forced us to join his song, but then it is not love. We have to choose it.

And so sin is, at the core, choosing ourselves.

We make idols for ourselves or in our image and worship them, demanding that the world dances around them too. Elizabeth Scalia puts it well in her book, Strange Gods: “What bossy little gods we are! We are needy and insecure, demanding capitulation, acceptance, and even adoration from everyone in our sphere. We rebel at the notion of God handing us 10 commandments; but our demands are much more numerous, and we inflict them upon everyone and then gnash the teeth when denied.”

That’s why the first command is (say it with me), “Thou shalt not have any other gods before me.” And human beings are so integral to the very “genetic makeup” or fabric of creation, that something about our self-worship has messed up everything and continues to. It has caused discord in a way that has fundamentally permeated everything, both physically and spiritually. I can barely comprehend this and its implications, but I believe it’s true. So we have all kinds of things that are “off” about us, out of tune. There’s something off with the things we desire and the world around us that are very, very confusing to understand.

Illness, death, and end to lineage

…is one such confusing thing.

I think it’s terrible and heartbreaking that gays (males particularly, and especially if promiscuous) have more threats to their health than heterosexuals (especially monogamous heterosexuals). I’m not being a jerk, I’m just acknowledging the history and statistics. It is what it is, and it’s terrible and heartbreaking. And I think it’s equally terrible and heartbreaking that their family line cannot continue (at least in a way that doesn’t tamper with or find alternatives to genetic and biological laws for life — Let GMO foods be our warning. I understand there are issues comparable to this for heterosexuals too, like infertility, but it’s the exception, not the rule.).

This ought to cause us to scratch our heads. Illness (arguably death for some, especially in the past) and the end to one’s bloodline and heritage ought not be the product of love, right? Life and the flourishing and continuation of humankind ought to be the product of love!

Luckily medicine and technology have come a long way, making this reality much less severe. God has been merciful to us. And I support medicine that keeps the LGBTQ community healthy, but I caution us from taking that mercy for granted.

(Addendum: I have received some criticism for the above argument, and as my original intent of this whole article was broad brushstrokes and to be fairly superficial, I did not expound on this point. Click here for a summary of the criticisms and for my response to them.)

In different ways, heterosexuals have just as much difficulty reflecting God’s image as same-sex couples do

I don’t deal with feelings of same-sex attraction like others do, but my husband and I both deal with plenty of other natural feelings that, should we succumb to them, would jeopardize our marriage and make it less than a supernatural reflection of the Trinity.

As one example, I have struggled with self-image, having thought myself a sexual object and compared myself to earthly ideals of beauty (idols created by man) that make me self-loathe (which is toxic to marriage, by the way). In my biological nature I want to compete with other women to be more “beautiful” and want men to desire me (evidence being how provocatively I dressed in high school). Lots of women (and men) do this. Just look up the selfie hashtag on Instagram. (Or maybe don’t.) We’re dying for sexual validation. Our best efforts to fill the void just leave us wanting more. It is a pit. An eternal pit of endless want. Ask those that have fought eating disorders or have had so much cosmetic surgery, it’s starting to get a little strange.

People mutilate their bodies, sacrifice gobs of money, time, and their very lives to this god; this god who is never satisfied. It’s a special kind of hell; one that God has saved me from multiple times, and continues to.

All of that natural desire has to die if I am to experience divine, supernatural love. I have to gouge out those parts of my natural self. There is a natural way, and many of us go that way. Then there is a supernatural way – and it can be quite difficult, full of sacrifice, but the difference is that it leads to life.

The point in Christianity is has NEVER been heterosexual monogamy.

The point is holiness. The point is to reflect the personality, love, life, harmony, and vitality that is the Trinity. God doesn’t judge simply based on sexual orientation; he judges by our love for him, by whether or not we let him take first place in our lives, or let our own desires take first place. Are we following his design – his will – or ours? He doesn’t do this because he’s some self-centered being who needs to be worshipped to appease some kind of insecurity, but because we’re designed to dance the divine dance, and we are most satisfied when we make God the ultimate object of our affection, trust, identity, and hope….rather than ourselves or some other created thing or person.

I think heterosexuals and homosexuals are often guilty of the exact same sin: wanting sex more than God.

It’s a tall order to reverse that order, and I’m not saying it’s easy. Living the Christian life is the hardest damn thing I do every day, and there is far more failure than success.  But when I die, that’s when I find life.

Love and relationship is central to the Christian message and relational metaphors are used throughout the Bible to explain God’s relationship to himself, to his people, and to all creation.

All throughout scripture, metaphors of familial bonds (father to son, as used to refer to God the Creator, and God the Word – Jesus) are used repeatedly. God is also likened to a groom who dies for his bride, the Church (his people). These metaphors are built upon in deep-seated and numerous ways with lots, and lots, of implications.

For most Christians, to tamper with these relational dynamics is to fundamentally tamper with our understanding of God. For Christians, physical reality and spiritual reality are woven together and are interdependent and any veering into alternative forms of intimacy can easily lead to a fundamentally distorted understanding of who God is and how we relate with this God, often in ways we don’t immediately see. And that’s where faith comes in, and why we take all of this so seriously.

We don’t always know exactly why, but we just know, sometimes intuitively, that while this looks  good, like the fruit in Eden, and the reasoning makes sense, that we can’t afford to be deceived. The same voice that came as a serpent in Eden still talks to us, taking on the forms we most trust. You can be god. You can make your own rules.

I’ve had two non-Christian friends approach me and tell me, “Keisha, I never understood why Christians waited till marriage to have sex, but I get it now.” They had personally lived through some temporary version of hell that sex outside of lifelong commitment had caused them. They’ve seen the way it can distort reality, the way it keeps us lost and confused longer, how dark the path can get, how much it can hurt, and how the individuals involved can find it so hard to get out of the relationship when everyone, even themselves, tells them to leave. “It was a lot of lost energy,” one of them said. Waiting for a lifelong partner isn’t a cure-all, but it can certainly help. Premature intimacy is risky in lots of ways. You don’t have to be a Christian to see that, but Christianity warns us before we make the mistake.

Sin promises us heaven and gives us hell. The fruit looks so nice to eat, but ultimately it tortures and even kills us.

Christians take sexuality very, very seriously and the lot of us, wary of deceit, are holding fast to the truth of our God even when the rationale the world is feeding us sounds quite tempting to believe.

While it is clever to use arguments equating same-sex union to racial and gender equality, it is a profoundly different thing if we’re speaking in Christian terms.

In English, there is one word for love, but in Greek, there are four that come up in the Bible: God-love, friendship-love, sexual-love, and longstanding love. Marriage relationships are the only earthly relationships that embody all four, and it is the fullest picture we get here on earth to understanding God and his love nature. And so this issue of holy sexuality is critical.

Closing remarks

At this point, you may be beyond offended. I commend you for reading this far.

If you’re boiling over in anger, I’m really sorry. It has not been my desire to do that. I certainly respect your free will to decide that you disagree. I hope you will respect that it is the only hope for many of us. It is the only true love we’ve ever found. We will (peacefully) fight for it. We’ve always died for it. Though we may be dwindling in number westwardly, we’re popping up like weeds in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. We’re not going anywhere. You’re kind-of stuck with us. 🙂

Lots of respectable Christians will disagree with me and invite same-sex marriage even in their churches. It would be much easier, for sure, for me to agree. I have REALLY WANTED to agree.  I have struggled and have hurt. To say all this publicly may come at great cost. I understand that people may hate me, that I might lose friends, though I don’t want any of those things. But I have to dance with God, not with the people I love. It’s a hard distinction to make, but it’s the only thing that has enabled me to experience real freedom.

What I hope is, at this point, that you have a better sense of WHY (many of us believe) some of these things are in the Bible and not just aware that they are, even if you think I’m a psycho religious nut at the end of it. (I guess I’m okay with that.) I hope you see more dimension to the Christian faith, even if you don’t agree with it. And please note that I have barely scratched the surface.

I also hope you won’t be angry at churches and pastors who choose not to facilitate same-sex marriage. I hope you won’t take it personally and try to legislate it.

I hope you’ll be okay with Christian Universities keeping their definitions of marriage and their corresponding arrangements.

I will unabashedly teach my children about alternative sexual lifestyles in a way that I find to be fitting for my child’s needs and also within a Christian context, which is my right. I don’t want the public schools to do it for me.

I hope you won’t guilt Christian-owned business into making wedding cakes for same-sex couples. I’d make your cake and attend your wedding to show you honor and respect, but not every Christian is there, and maybe you wouldn’t want us to anyway.

I hope you’ll understand it really has nothing to do with you and everything to do with us wanting to reflect our Creator because we’d rather die than do anything else. I hope you won’t call us bigots, though some of us may be. If you think I am, consider my other cheek turned, and know that I don’t hate you, I love you, and you’re probably better than me. For the one thing I think you’re doing wrong, I’m probably doing ten things wrong. I beg for your grace toward those of us that are total ignoramuses. We’ll be the first to tell you that we’re not perfect and God is working on us.

If you are one of my soap-boxy brothers or sisters in Christ spouting off Bible verses at every turn, STOP IT.

For the LOVE OF GOD — really! Shut your pie-hole and think about what you’re actually communicating. Ecclesiastes says there’s a time to be quiet and maybe right now is that time for you. Maybe it’s time to listen and be focused more on others than yourself. From my heart, and for the love of peace, I’m offering this exhortation. There’s no need to be so whiney, fragile, and offended. All you’re doing is showing how weak your faith is. If you really think you’re being persecuted, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet (and neither have I). We’re only at Level 1 of cheek turning when someone calls you a bigot. I admonish you to carry your cross and count it all joy as did Jesus and the martyrs before us.

Love and peace,

Keisha

Advertisements

Published by: kgrazi

Welcome to my journey. About me: First and foremost, I'm God's beloved and Imago Dei. Secondarily, I'm a woman, wife, friend, daughter, sister, "sheologian", American Latina, activist, rabble rouser, the founder of a Spanish-English news website, the cofounder of a Christian intentional community in Roanoke, VA, and member of a small reformed church full of amazing people who are way smarter and more grounded than me!

Categories Faith18 Comments

18 thoughts on “To my beautiful LGBTQ friends and supporters, a sincere letter from your Christian friend”

  1. This is “spot-on” Keisha….some good thoughts here. You are to be commended for your thoughts on this subject. Thank you for sharing your heart.

  2. Don’t agree, Nice try though. Doctorate in theology and a professional mental health provider (MS in Counseling). You end up being a literalist, who cannot molve beyond limited imagery for Sacred. I believe your thinking is flawed, but I respect you for trying to be fair.

    1. You might also say it is limited to confine a fish to water. If I were the fish, I’d say, “Please, dear God, confine me, so I can be free and not die.”

      You have to be a literalist at some point too. Metaphor is a metaphor FOR something real, not just a metaphor for the sake of being a metaphor about something that doesn’t literally exist.

      Degrees are nice though. I have one. 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

  3. While I disagree profoundly, I truly appreciated your perspective for most of this, especially on the distinction between secular society and civil laws vs. religious doctrine. I was actually going to share this with others.

    But I cannot. You argue the products of love between gay men are disease and death. This is ridiculous. Gay men have been around for roughly as long as straight men. You mention post Fall–I think it is safe to say this is most of human history, so I’m rounding up. The most significant sexually transmitted diseases for Men who Sleep with Men have been hepatitis and HIV. Why? Well, gay men had underground cultures that tolerated and often encouraged promiscuity. But there is significant evidence that these trends developed out of necessity: when how you express your love is illegal and is forced underground by violence, hatred, and shunning, how can a culture be healthy? And yet. And yet. With all that against them, gay men managed to create a culture that had some of the brightest and best spots of their world. HIV is also an incredibly modern virus–its evolution comes from two simian viruses that combined within an ape’s body to create SIV, which jumped to humans a couple hundreds of years ago. It survived within a mostly straight world for a long time, until a Man who Sleeps with Men quite innocently and likely through a promiscuous act inserted it into a punished, shamed, but strong system. Hepatitis, which exists in most groups of humans, was already fostered there in a less deadly way. Death and disease among gay men are the product of the hatred you state you don’t have. Saying death and disease are the product of gay love is hateful.

    1. Thanks for sharing this! This is quite an interesting perspective and I need to think more on it. I can’t say that I’ve heard it this way, that these diseases are caused by hate. I find that to be incredibly intriguing, and plausible at least in some sense. I am not at all a scientist or historian of science, but I think a whole lot of them, probably who aren’t even Christian, would basically agree with what I said. But even if gays can be healthy and free of disease, and free of hate from others, their genetic line dies out. It’s not their own physical death, but it is a kind of death. Lineage isn’t as important to us in modern days, but that’s not true for most of human history.

      1. To clarify, the communities of gay men that encouraged anonymous sex did create vectors for the disease. Similar vectors exist now in Africa, in part due to the sex trade, mostly through heterosexual contact. Similarly, it is exacerbated due to a widespread reluctance to use condoms, especially because heterosexual sex workers have a great difficulty in convincing their customers to use them.

        This is my point: There is no way to know what gay men’s communities would have looked like if they believed they could come out to their families without losing everything, include their lives. It’s not just hate; it’s complete societal rejection–when the police will beat you and you can be put in a mental institution, when people will go on witch hunts to find you in your workplace so they can fire you, often publicly. I cannot blame them for creating a culture of bacchanal when the whole world put them in such a depressing situation. You acknowledge that homosexuality is a natural condition. It is truly unfair to suggest that the rate of disease is evidence that their relationships are less than straight married people’s without taking all that into account.

        Honestly, it made me look back at the entire piece with a much harsher lens. Your statements of love–which I believe are genuine–start to come across as deeply condescending. I am not going to get into fertility other than to say many straight couples don’t think their unions are “less than” because they can’t or won’t have children

        I really hope you will rethink this; you can choose to reject homosexuality as an equal sexual orientation to heterosexuality but I’m not sure there is anything particularly scientific about this piece. I do appreciate your distinction between the secular and the religious worlds.

      2. You bring up some really interesting points, and I appreciate your thoughtfulness. I will never stop thinking about these things – about peace, and restoration, and love, in whatever forms they take. I am broken and God is still healing my humanity, so I wouldn’t be surprised if something I said came across as condescending, or if there was an entire undertone of it. I didn’t mean to be, and I ask for your grace. ❤

  4. VERY well written, Keisha! I believe you were very fair and loving in your analysis. I like how you clearly stated that you don’t believe that gay people or even gay relationships are different or even less than just because they are gay. I don’t see hate or condescension anywhere in your post, and I truly commend you for that. Though I think the fact that some may see it as such is evidence that we all “see though a glass, darkly.” I know this wasn’t an easy post to make, because I, myself, have struggled with putting my thoughts into words about the subject. I, too, have many LGBTQA people in my life, many of whom I call friends, and two of whom I call brothers. By blood. Because of the love I have for all of them, it has certainly been difficult to explain that I can not agree with their lifestyle and still love them with the fullness of my heart. Your post has put it beautifully and I will be sharing this. Thank you!

  5. Keisha, this post is certainly written in a very loving tone. And I think that’s great! It’s clear that you care about your friends in the LGBTQ community, and in virtue of the fact that you seem to have a decent number of them that stick around, I bet you are living a life that reflects the love shown in your writing which is super important!

    Also, I think the fact that you write with the love and grace that you do will make your post very appealing to many Christian readers who feel that homosexual behavior and same-sex relationships are sinful. This is because I believe that Christians, by and large, are people who take the stances they do out of a genuine desire to serve God and love others. Thus, when they see someone writing with love to the LGBT (et al) community but holding firm that the behavior is sinful as you have, they will want to get on board with what you say.

    I’m all for Christians writing with love yet taking a strong stance against what they believe is sin. That seems proper. However, I have some deep concerns about several of the things you seem to offer as evidence against the moral acceptability of homosexual behavior (or perhaps more weakly put, as things you offer as Christian considerations against homosexual behavior). And I’m worried in addition that because you’ve offered your arguments in loving language, that the reasons you offer won’t be given the scrutiny they deserve. (We tend to be less rigorous and harsh, sometimes with good reason, with arguments offered in a polite and graceful way). And perhaps even worse, I worry that some of your (what I take to be) problematic reasons to think homosexual behavior is immoral/not pleasing to God/etc. will be repeated in less loving language by your readers and be really hurtful to members of the LGBTQ community and a number of others.

    I have a lot of thoughts, but I want to be respectful of how much space I take up on your page, so I’ll limit myself to some comments on your “Illness, death, and end of lineage” section (specifically the illness and death part). But if you wish to continue the conversation, I’m happy to share more.
    I assume the illness that you’re referring to here is HIV/AID primarily (with perhaps a more limited focus on other STDs that show up more in the gay/bisexual male community like syphilis). You’re a little cryptic about exactly what you think the spiritual/moral/causal connection between homosexual behavior and HIV/AIDs is, but given that you write that “Illness (arguably death for some, especially in the past) and the end to one’s bloodline and heritage ought not be the product of love, right?” and in connection to medication which has take HIV from a death sentence to a chronic treatable condition that “I caution us from taking that mercy for granted,” you seem to treat HIV/AIDs as both a by-product of and as potentially a punishment for homosexual behavior.

    When I read that my first reaction was sadness. Sadness that even in what seems to be one of the most loving crevices in the space of opposition to homosexual behavior that such a damaging and hurtful idea has persisted. Please note that I did not call it hateful or mean. I don’t think it was either, and that is because I believe your intentions are pure. But I think this view is damaging, hurtful, and problematic for several reasons nonetheless.

    First, on a purely human/relational level, those with HIV and AIDs are still among the most stigmatized groups in our society. I deeply admire the many brave men and women (including those who are gay, straight, bi and everything else you can be) with HIV who are fighting to change this stigma. But it’s a hard fight for them. They have to fight so hard for every step of progress they make for acceptance. But I think any propagation of the view, deeply entrenched in the minds of many from a previous generation, that their physical affliction is either a just result of and/or a punishment for their actions is as a major setback to their progress for acceptance and dignified treatment.

    For more information about the stigmatization of people with HIV/AIDs see here: http://www.avert.org/hiv-aids-stigma-and-discrimination.htm
    For more info about those fighting against this stigma see here: http://www.thestigmaproject.org/
    And for some heart-wrenching (but uplifting) testimonials see here: http://www.cdc.gov/actagainstaids/campaigns/hivtreatmentworks/index.html

    A second problem: and I know you know this, but HIV/AIDs is not a gay-male-only disease (although yes, they are the predominant community afflicted in the United States). It’s also a disease that is having a terrible effect on certain portions of the African American and Hispanic America populations in our nation, with African American women being the demographic in the US currently making the least amount of progress in terms of life expectancy and health via HIV treatment. There are also other places around the globe (many parts of Africa first and foremost) where HIV/AIDs is a epidemic across sexual-orientation lines. There are a number of problematic consequences that follow from this and your words. First of all, the message you’ve put forward that their illness is a sign that love is not present is probably very hurtful for many of these people. Think about children who were born with HIV because they were conceived by loving (heterosexual) parents, at least one of whom was HIV positive, who wanted to continue their lineage. The message you seem to offer is that there entire existence is the product of a lack of love and that they are not flourishing as humans because they are HIV positive. Or think about heterosexual partners who have caught this disease because they choose to be in a life-long monogamous relationship with someone who is HIV positive. Do you really want to brand their illness as a sign that love is absent? If you don’t, what makes their condition different from that of homosexuals in monogamous loving relationships where a similar risk is present? Or homosexuals in general?

    Third, you write as if HIV/AIDs is a generic consequence of homosexual behavior. But this certainly isn’t so. The spread of the disease within the gay male community is largely the result of certain risky promiscuous practices facilitated in large part by certain social conditions of rejection (as a previous commentator pointed out). But the majority of the homosexual population is still HIV/AIDS free, and for two gay men who are HIV negative and choose to remain in a monogamous relationship, their risk of catching this illness and death you speak of is no greater than the risk of HIV negative heterosexual couples who do the same. Thus, it doesn’t seem to be homosexual behavior itself that results in this condition, yet this is what you seem to be speaking out against.

    Finally, I think, theoretically, you’re working on shaky argumentative grounds making a connection between sin and physical illness. In most instances in history where obvious wickedness prevailed, physical illness did not follow in any special form as a result (e.g. Nazi Germany). Nor in most instances in history where particular diseases targeted particular demographics do we think this shows moral defect in those demographics (e.g. the Aztec people shortly after the Spanish arrived). On what grounds can you claim that the general disconnect between sin and illness is for some reason almost uniquely discarded in the case of homosexual behavior and HIV/AIDs (particularly, when there is a non-spiritual causal explanation for the connection? (This is not to say that God can’t use the causal and the natural for spiritual/moral ends. I just don’t think we have a good reason to think that’s what’s going on here in this case).

    Of all my worries about this article, this was the one I found most pressing, so it’s the one I chose to talk about here. I would request that you prayerfully consider either deleting your comments related to this, somehow amending them, or writing some kind of retraction if you’re opposed to modifying the original piece. I think your voice is a charismatic and good one, but I think the LGBTQ community and the HIV/AIDs community deserve efforts destigmatizing their afflictions, not one’s reinforcing the stigma. And I think you put forward a spiritually-misguided view of God’s role in the world by suggesting HIV/AIDs is a punishment for gay sex.

    I hope that you know I respect your intentions thoroughly and appreciate much of what you have written. It’s only because I think scrutinizing the reasons given by even the most graceful writers on this important topic is the best practice. I am happy to continue the dialogue, but respect your decision if you choose not to.

    1. Hi there. First I want to say, wow! I am amazed by how gracefully and gently you addressed your disagreement with me, without attacking. I think this symbolizes that it is possible to be civil and have productive conversations about difficult things without demonizing the people who disagree with us. Thank you for giving me hope! If you’re in Roanoke, I’m happy to meet sometime and talk further on this topic. Per your request, I am working on an addendum to add to the section on illness and death. I doubt I’ll be able to address every point (as I’m not a full time blogger and have a day job), but I’ll try to address the main critiques. In a word, just note that this entire article is broad brushstrokes, intended to explain main points without going into too much depth. The depth is better suited for books. But since I got critiques mostly on this particular point of illness, I thought I’d try to expound in more detail. I’ll have a link added in that section hopefully by the end of today, maybe tomorrow. Thank you for your thoughtfulness and the time you took to explain your point of view. I am appreciative.

      1. Thanks for taking the time to read my (lengthy) comment and for responding with grace! I realize it may not have been my place to ask anything of you, but I’m so pleased to hear that you were willing to think about what I wrote and respond nonetheless. Is the response up yet? I just checked the link and it doesn’t appear to be so. (If it’s not I totally understand…those day jobs don’t take care of themselves unfortunately!) I just wanted to make sure I wasn’t neglecting to read your response if it was up. And your point about talking in broad strokes is well-taken. There’s only so much that can be said in a blog post! I’ve written a few things on this topic as well, and it is a hard task trying to balance treating topics thoroughly, but keeping them short enough so that the post remains readable. It seems like an impossible balance most of the time.

  6. I have to agree with marksatta on the death and illness remarks. The sun shines on the good and evil. However, Keisha, I love this piece. Your depth of character, literary pro style, and critical discernment is far greater than mine, and I thought I was deep! 🙂 I loved your kindness and love to all throughout. I loved your humility. I loved your pointing out that it is ok and even good that even though the church doesn’t allow homosexuality, that the nation should and did. You inspired me personally with this: Sin promises us heaven and gives us hell. The fruit looks so nice to eat, but ultimately it tortures and even kills us.

    You’ve probably heard this before but here’s my take on being “gay”. I’m not gay. I considered it, but quickly decided that I already have enough problems. Why add more? To me, it’s as insane as trying to plug a plug into another plug, or trying to connect an outlet to an outlet. Our bodies aren’t made for this. It’s absurd to think otherwise. Further, gay leaders will say that they don’t have a choice; one is simply born gay. However, as I said in the high school assembly, convincing a person that they don’t have a choice is as idiotic and crippling as telling a person that they don’t have free will. We do have choice! It is our choices that define who we are – not our race, sex, parents or our country of origin, all of which are NOT our choices. We do however get to choose our thoughts, feelings, words, and deeds. For example, we can choose to date a guy or a gal.

    Just as in the story, “The Emperor has No Clothes”, where the little child let’s the king know he’s naked, I’d have been the first to tell gay followers that their leaders have duped them into believing that being gay is sheik, in, or in your genes, etc. Misery loves company. But that was ten years ago. Since then I’ve learned that the world is grossly overpopulated, and the illuminati wants to cut back the population about 90% — not 10% — 90%. So I’ve really rethought telling them. Just last year, thanks to the gay movement, there was a 17% drop in teen pregnancy.

    Now I wonder if the Bible shouldn’t continue to be written. Why was it finished 1900 years ago, but took some 4000 years to write? What if now, God has spoken to the illuminati and told them something like this: Well done. The earth is now populated. As I broke the bread to feed the multitudes, I want all to always be fed, but there will be a food shortage in 2050 if you do not curb the population. There is therefore a time when being gay is of necessity.

    Now, when I look at a person who is gay, my feelings toward them have shifted to that similar to a Vietnam vet. Whether they know it or not, they are making a sacrifice for population control. I still love them as I did ten years ago too.

    Further, I’ve rethought all religions. I now believe that any religion is not worth going to war over because it is just a theory and a history lesson about an old world of people who are now all dead. Religion has to work for people and the planet now and for the future. To me this is the most important litmus test to whether or not something is or isn’t the right thing to do. The past is gone. Ask yourself, will it work? Is it good?

    Am I still a Christian? You better believe it! Christianity teaches us many ways of thinking that almost always prove beneficial for the believers. It’s not perfect because, although it was inspired by God, it was written by man. I do know that when my eyes wander away from God, I loose myself. But when they are on God, because God loves me and only give me good instruction, my life is great and moving forward fine.

    Thanks for writing this, Keisha. You have given me some action provoking thoughts! You will be richly rewarded for taking the time to write it.

  7. Hello Keisha – I think you came as close to splitting the arrow as possible. There is so much more to be sure – just on the topic of God’s sovereignty alone – but you have graciously and thoughtfully and wisely summed up a large part of the Christian world view when it comes to this very emotional and challenging issue. Thank you for being so brave in doing so. Blessing, – Stuart

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s