I recently read this quote from Jose Solano of Opine: "Is President Elect Obama signaling that he will not be a puppet of the pro-death and depravity culture? … Either way it's a sure win for the pro-family forces since we were not expecting anything from him but a degradation of the moral state of the nation, specifically for marriage and family." Then, in a recent blogpost, I referred to Pastor Rick Warren as a "gay-hater." I was responding to Warren's equation of homosexuality with bestiality, incest, and child abuse, and, when asked for clarification, affirmed that that was his intention.) I regret using that word, because I'm trying to get beyond judgment, and that is certainly a judgment on my part. It is inaccurate, because nobody is a hater by nature, even if they do hate in some instances. It also brought a reaction from some of my readers. I don't want to find the exact Warren quote, or even confirm it, for the purposes of this post. I'm more interested in the questions that this, and the response to it, generated for me,
It's easy to jump from any one of these statements to offense – to hear hatred and bigotry in the words. Perhaps too easy. What is really behind them? What needs do these people have? (Mine were acceptance and community.) What is their real intention? (Mine was to support gays and lesbians.) I asked Jose for clarification, and, so far, have not been answered in any meaningful way.
If Jose's and Warren's words are spoken in objection to homosexuality, as it appears – what does it mean to be homosexual? Is it just behavior, or is it ingrained - who you are, either genetic or by other factors? Who gets to make that judgment? If it is natural, genetic, or ingrained, what behavior by a homosexual individual actually constitutes "sin" or depravity?
I think intention is important – which leads to the next question: Given that the two people mentioned above are Christians, and so assumably embrace Jesus' admonishments to "love your enemy" and "do unto others as you would have them do unto you," does it matter that words spoken with the intention of love are heard as hate? Whose responsibility is it to verify that the words are heard for the intention with which they are spoken?
Having lived the reality of gender dysphoria, I know that sex and gender are far more complex than just "man + woman." There is a spectrum of sexuality, gender, and even biology that occurs naturally – that is, if you will, God-given. So I have no trouble granting people the natural urgings of their soul. To me, a committed sexual relationship between two homosexuals is no different, morally, than one between a man and a woman. I don't envy those Christians who are unable to reconcile the words of their prophets with the reality of humanity as it is. How do you express love to someone when you object so strenuously to the subjective reality of their lives? It's a real conundrum, and I don't have an answer. I do know that when a dear Christian friend chose to reject me so totally after my transition that she won't even allow her children to have any contact with mine (even though they used to be friends), it was very painful to me and did not feel at all like love. I've heard often from these people words like, "Hate the sin, love the sinner." But what, really, does that mean? How do you separate them? Would I, then, be acceptable if I remained the suicidal, neurotic, dysfunctional "male" I was? Why, then, not the happy, productive, healthy woman I am now?
Is it truly loving to approve of a person when they act in ways that make themselves miserable, but disapprove when they act in ways that make themselves happy? And how on earth do you reconcile that?
I've got no real answers to offer here. Just questions. Perhaps the biggest: Is it possible for all of us to live in peace and respect together, to listen to each other, to withhold judgment and yet retain our own integrity and dignity? Can we find the words that express respect even as they disagree? Can we grant each other the freedom to live according to our own consciences, whether we disagree or not?
I'd like to think that we can.