A Christian Advocating LGBT+ Rights
After another argument defending LGBT+ rights to a Christian friend, I wanted to articulate my frustration. I am as convicted in my belief that homosexuality is beautiful and normal and acceptable as my belief that Jesus died for me and rose again. I'm trying to navigate these seemingly opposing beliefs, and this writing may be a little uncomfortable, but please try and make it to the end.
I was never told that homosexuality was a sin. I have no recollection whatsoever of that ever being outright said to me, my parents are generally circumspect in voicing their beliefs and are very generous in addition to that. I certainly never witnessed them, or any of their friends, treating a member of the LGBT+ community any different than they would any other acquaintance. And yet aged 11, upon seeing two girls kiss in a shopping centre, I had a reaction of disgust sufficient that I ended up gagging into a bin. I had internalised, and I still cannot pinpoint the source, although it was probably an amalgamation of scriptural teaching, hushed conversations and society in general, that homosexuality was wrong and disgusting, and I could not understand it. Some of my friends, when I voiced this complete lack of ability to understand, said that was what characterised my heterosexuality: of course I couldn't understand how a boy could love a boy and vice versa, because I was straight; it should be repulsive. I know now that all of us were speaking from wilful ignorance and utter lack of awareness or empathy.
This began a long journey of discovery for me. I am someone who seeks to understand, and aged 14 I had moved to the point of vocally supporting homosexuality and having some LGBT+ friends, but not feeling like I could ever date a bi/pan/trans human being. I still clearly had a lot to learn. Gradually I realised that a lot of my initial reactions to hearing about polyamory, or asexuality, or gender fluidity, came from a place of indoctrination, from unconsciously consuming and accepting the ideal that monogamy and heterosexuality and being cisgender were right and that any "other" was wrong and disgusting and shameful. But I was wrong. Now, as I continue to try and degrade these unconscious ideals that damage people and teach them to be ashamed and fearful instead of loving and upholding them, I know that in lots of cases, my initial reaction will be wrong. Now, I silently hold the slight uncomfortability with a new notion in my head at arm's length, and I make the effort to read and learn and to make human connection with people who are not like me in some aspects, but who are just as worthy, and who are much braver than I am.
I understand, and like, the Christian phrase "love the sinner, hate the sin." The principle seems to ring true; love people first and wholly, but don't enable destructive behaviours like selfishness or addiction or being spiteful. I don't think loving people properly means letting them do things that ultimately hurt themselves or other people. However, in the case of homosexuality, that is not enough. I can't believe that homosexuality, or not identifying with a sexuality or gender, or that identifying with a gender other than the one you were assigned at birth, is a sin, or wrong, or shameful and disgusting. We are not in God's perfect creation, I'm not going to hold people to the Bible's standards when I am selfish and lie daily, we know there has historically always been LGBT+ people (through depictions in art or literature) and there is also biological basis for it. I can't see how it's logical or loving to declare that everything other than heterosexuality/monogamy/cisgenderism is wrong, and Jesus was logical and loving, and so am I. I love LGBT+ people, and so does Jesus, and I wholeheartedly support their rights; their right to marry, to have and raise kids, to be given equal rights, to feel safe in public, to proudly and unabashedly declare who they are, to exist without judgement and criticism and to feel empowered in all of it, especially because of how difficult just existing is for them. And that's why the principle is not enough. If every time I saw one of my friends I said "I love you, but I hate your nose", do you know how that friend would feel about me after a while? They would feel embarrassed and scrutinised by me, they would not want to be with me, I would be professing to love them and simultaneously undermining their worth and right to just live and let live. The reality of Christians (and people of other faiths) using this principle is that it is damaging and hurtful, I cannot sit by and watch the people I love hurting because of a narrative that undermines a core part of their personhood, it isn't loving of me to allow that or to endorse it. And if that means I have to pick away at my unconscious inner beliefs and to question the God that I love, to humble myself to educating myself about things that have at times made me deeply uncomfortable, in order to be a more enlightened, empathetic human, I'll do it. I want to love people the way Jesus does, and the way that I have felt Jesus love me, and I encourage you to try, even if it's difficult. And it is. But learning to fully support and be capable of utterly accepting people, is worth it. I love the LGBT+ community, I support them fully, I am going to keep learning and growing in support of you as you grow and learn, and you are not disgusting or broken or shameful. You are not wrong. We're wrong, and I'm so sorry.