The Gay Apocalypse

Hello, and thanks for inviting me. Just for funsies, I brought my crystal ball. Thought we might rub this thing up and gaze into the future. Be forewarned, something big is on the horizon! (I peeked.)

It will have some dancing in celebration, others mourning in prayer for what must surely be the end of time, and the talk shows will have a field day.

This event will likely occur at some point this summer when the Supreme Court of the United States will rule on questions surrounding the legalization of gay marriage. One of the questions they are expected to address is whether states can limit “marriage” to the traditional definition of being only the union of a man and a woman.

I think I see the outcome and some of you are not going to be happy. If the legalization of gay marriage troubles you, stay with me. I once felt just as you do now, and I have come to help you cope with….

THE GAY APOCALYPSE! (Bonus: bacon is involved.)

For this writing, allow me to use the word “gay” in a broad, general sense to refer to all same-sex relationships. I’m sure some would prefer a delineation of gay, lesbian, bi-, etc.
I seek only to simplify.

Being raised a Southern Baptist served as the backdrop for the way I long felt about homosexuality. Now, you know we Christians, especially those of us in the genteel South, we love everybody, even them gay people; we just don’t agree with their ‘lifestyle choice’ (words we’ll address shortly).

I must admit that for many years, I had a hard time getting comfortable with it being OK to be gay. While I reject any accusations of homophobia, I do have to confess to being insensitive with some of the things I have said on the radio. I could always hide behind words like, “come on, I’m just kiddin’!!”

By the way, gay people have a terrific sense of humor about themselves if it’s humor delivered with love and understanding. I’ve learned that.

So what has changed for me?

Through the years, I’ve had several gay co-workers that I got along with very well, personally and professionally. We became… friends. Yes, I have gay friends! I said it, are you happy now?

Gee, I hope they don’t try to convert me. (I promise a good story on that before we finish.)

Having gay friends allowed me to ask some very honest questions about their sexuality, as if it was any of my business. In one such conversation with a lesbian co-worker about whether people can or do choose to be gay, she asked, “Why in the world would anyone choose to be ridiculed for being who they are?”

Those words stuck.

I am close friends with a lesbian couple, both of whom will tell you they were never anything other than gay. (It’s apparently a common question from a straight dude: were you always gay?)  One of them remembers being at a wedding at the age of 5 and wishing she could walk down the isle with the bride. At that age, it’s not a sexual urge, it’s an innate feeling. So, born this way? That is certainly her truth.

To that end, it’s important for heterosexuals to understand that being gay is as natural to gay people as being heterosexual is for straight people. It is simply what you are. Or who you are.

But now comes the hard part, especially for many Christians.

How do we reconcile accepting homosexuality with what the Bible has to say about it? As Christians, we are basically taught our prejudice against gays. There are, after all, scriptural references on these matters and those scriptures say homosexuality is wrong.

When you see Christian opposition to gay marriage, a popular stance involves Leviticus 18:22. Of homosexuality, the verse says, “It is an abomination.” (KJV). With that, opposing voices will declare that ‘it’s in the Bible,’ and the discussion is over, period.

Keep reading.

Two chapters later, Leviticus 20, it is written that not only is it an abomination, but the participants in homosexual activity should be killed. So how does a Christian justify simple condemnation when there is specific biblical instruction for more action? If Lev. 18:22 is our armor of righteousness against homosexuality, why isn’t Lev. 20:13 the sword we use against it?

My guess is that killing people doesn’t sit well with most of us, even if it is scriptural.

Leviticus is in fact a book of much instruction. We are told not to cheat, not to lie. (Good.) We are told not to wear clothing made from two kinds of material. (Really? Hm.) We are told that the promiscuous daughter of a priest should be burned with fire. (That seems a bit unnecessary.) It tells us adulterers should be killed. (It’s happened but is not generally acceptable practice.) We are told that a woman on her period is “unclean”. (Now that’s just downright old fashioned!)

Right? Are we pretty much on the same page?

Fact of the matter is, that fourth book of the bible is full of instructions that most Christians find – even if not admitting it – outdated.

Leviticus contains instruction about what animals we are to sacrifice and how the blood of these animals is to be handled by the priests. It tells us that rabbits are not fit to eat. It also says pigs are unclean for consumption, an idea that many people reject but others hold as being the reason they will not consume pork. And that leads us to these questions:

What portions of the bible can we reject as no longer relevant for our world today while holding other verses up as God’s absolute law?  Further, on whose authority are those decisions made?*

It may just be me, but I’m having trouble with demands that God’s law must be obeyed as it relates to homosexuality but not as it relates to eating a pork chop.

So is it okay to change the laws (rules)? I think it is. I think our understanding of all things is an evolutionary process. We know that science evolves. With that, medicine evolves. Mechanics evolve. Why can’t our thinking, our understanding, evolve?

If we can make ourselves understand that the Bible didn’t drop onto Moses doorstep one day, fully written; if we will accept that much of the Bible is the written words of ancient stories and traditions passed through generations, often orally; if we can embrace the knowledge we have that the Bible has undergone many revisions, additions, omissions, rewrites and changes in translation through the years, then yes, I believe the Bible can still be used as an underpinning to the Christian faith without demanding that certain words must be taken as the absolute law of God while we completely reject others as no longer applicable.

It’s a fact that the contents of the Bible has historically been largely affected and directed by the man or men that were in charge at any given time over the many centuries it took for this great work came together as we now know it. Most were likely heterosexual. The vast majority of society has always been – still is – heterosexual. Heterosexuals often have a hard time understanding homosexuality.

Especially in an earlier time when those men of authority had absolute power, anything that felt uncomfortable or weird to them could simply be outlawed. Better yet, let’s make it not only against the law, let’s make it against God’s law.

And so it shall be written.

There was a time in this country not so long ago that the black man couldn’t vote. Even more recently, women were denied that right. Some “rogue judge” would then make some “ill-informed” decisions that everyone should be treated equally, and the whole world went straight to hell!

It’s about to happen again. The Supreme Court is going to once again rule that treating one group of people differently than another group of people is discrimination, and another wall will come down. At least, that is what I think will happen. In America, we seem to have a tradition of dealing death blows to discrimination, even if it takes a long time to get to the knockout punch.

I also believe that we will one day look back on our past treatment of gays much as we do now on the past treatment of black men and all women. And we’ll shake our heads in disbelief that we passed laws that allowed us to treat certain people differently, especially in the 21st century.
By the way, for the most part, your kids are already doing this.

In sharing some long-ago Sunday School conversations  about gays with my lesbian friend, I recalled during my teenage years one of our teachers, a truly lovely, older Southern lady putting it like this: “I don’t really have any problem with gay people as long as they don’t try to convert me.” My friend laughed, then, responded with, “That’s a shame. I’ll bet The Lesbian League had just upped their quota of converting 80-year old straight women that week.”

Amen.


*These are loose variations of questions posed by Dr. John Shelby Spong, a retired bishop of the Episcopal Church, in his book, “Living in Sin?: A Bishop Rethinks Human Sexuality” (Harper Collins. 1990)


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