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You didn’t really think I was going to let her get in the last word, especially when Bible-thumping?

I’ve been to church many times in my life. As recently as three years ago, I was going weekly. I have read the Bible (well, most of it — I also saw some Claymation versions of the Gospel), and I have a strong sense of what I believe God wants from me.

So, here’s my response to the response:


Dear Linda,

Yes, I see we are not going to agree, but your thoughtful and kind response certainly matters to me, and is something I appreciate. If you do not want to get into a discussion with me, I certainly understand that — but I also believe that if “both sides” agreed more often to genuinely discuss and listen to the other, we may never come to terms and “change sides,” but we may certainly have a greater understanding … and, most importantly, a greater respect … for the other.

Let me reveal something that may surprise you: I go to church. I listen to the Gospel. I believe in its meanings and lessons and what it has to tell us about God’s love. I also believe in the New Testament, and that it sprang from the teachings of Christ — quite different in many cases than the messages conveyed in the Old Testament, as you no doubt are aware. And Christ tells us, time and again, to love one another. No matter what. Even Christ got angry and frustrated at those who seemed to be going against his teaching, as in the Temple with the moneychangers. But even there, he came to understand that tolerance, temperance and the belief in the love of God above everything are what we all should strive for.

Let me say again, as only I can (as only I have lived my life — just as only you have lived yours), that I was born gay. I know this as sure as I know I was born with brown hair and with middle toes that are slightly longer than my big toes. If God did not make me this way, then something or someone certainly did — and I, for one, believe it was NOT the opposite of God! I cannot tell you how much I know this to be true. I don’t “believe” it to be true; I know it is so. And God has blessed me with a loving, gracious, caring, compassinate, good-humored, joyous person in my life. Together, we are facing the challenges that life offers us. We work together to make a home, we pay our taxes, we give to charity, we budget our money, we take care of our neighbors (and they of us). We have cultivated a wonderful circle of friends, some liberal and some conservative, some gay and some straight, some our age and some older. We end each day knowing we are blessed and happy and grateful for the gifts that God has bestowed on us.

In that regard, we are no different, I think, than anyone else you might know. There were some, particuarly in our families, who found it difficult to accept as as a couple when we first were together — but over the years (four so far), we are lucky that every single one has come to accept us as who we are. Talking with his mother the other day, she said, “I don’t even think of you as two men anymore, I just think of you as Jeff and John and I love both of you so much.” How wonderful that is!

I just wanted to point out to you that we are not all that different from any “straight” couple you might know. We have two dogs who take up most of our time and attention, we work in our yards and wash our cars and mostly just stay at home because neither one of us is particularly outgoing in a social sense (though we love movies). That is to say, you might be shocked at how average and, well, boring we actually are.

Again, I can only speak for myself (and for the many friends I have who I know share the same overall sentiments): We certainly don’t have any plans to “recruit” kids or “infiltrate” our community. For myself, to be honest, I’m not so sure I even support the idea of “gay marriage,” since “marriage” has been so poorly respected as an institution in the past 30 years I think it has lost most of its meaning. So, I’m probably with you on that one! We are not and never have been child abusers or drag queens. We don’t have sex in dark corners or condone unsafe sex of any sort among anyone. We believe in monogamy and in the sanctity of our relationship. My friends who are not in a relationship want very much to find someone with whom they can quietly and privately share their lives.

Do I believe that God loves me just the way I am? Absolutely. Just as I believe he loves you. From my end, I believe that if you read the Bible through my eyes, you would see just as many passages that support my stances and views as do yours. I believe Scripture can be interpreted in many different ways to support many different views. I choose to use it to show that God loves everyone, no matter who they are.

One day relatively soon, there may be irrefutable, absolutely incontrovertable proof that the majority of gay people are born “that way.” I do believe (and know from first-hand experience) that SOME people, perhaps 10-15% of gay men and women, are not entirely “one way” or another. And for them, it may very well be possible to “choose” one preferred gender. If for just one single, instantaneous moment you could be inside my head, you would know beyond any doubt that for me, it is not possible.

I wish it were not an issue — just as I’m sure women in 1908 wished their gender were not an issue, or black people in 1954 wished the color of their skin were not an issue. I choose to relate to their struggles, not to alcoholics and wife-beaters, and it pains me to think that you would put gay men and women into the same realm as those troubled souls.

There is little about my life that troubles me, and the things that do have nothing to do with my being gay — they are the same things that probably trouble you (traffic, pollution, mean bosses, the cost of groceries). I am, however, genuinely troubled by those who believe they cannot consider, even for a moment, what it is like to be on “the other side.” Linda, I can never know what it is like to be you, but I do respect your views, your passions and your beliefs. I share many of your beliefs in God and Scripture. And when I pray, it is not for you to “change” (nor for me to “change”), but rather that we can all live together with respect for the way God made us.

I choose to believe he is happy that his children are all so very, very different and that — in the grand scheme of things — they’ve turned out so well. 🙂



Steve Expounded Thusly:

And that is what I mean by people who are religious not imposing on others. John’s concept of Christianity is wholly different from Linda’s.

It is the Lindas I rail against and chide and make fun of. It’s entertaining and, hey, there is indeed a fight to be fought on this front (the front of tolerance, that is, not religion). If people like Linda truly did love their fellow man and not work to make them something they are not, I’d respect her. But I can not respect her, as a person, when she does not respect so many others, paiting them all with the broad brush of sin.

So John is more patient than me, I think, and more capable of tolerating Linda. I need to practice the concept of tolerance, but how can I do that toward her? This is the part where I say I can not do it. I can not sit idly by and tolerate her viewpoints when she seeks to undo who I am. Am I wrong in thinking this? Or is this how changing the social landscape is accomplished?

And now, some juggling dogs. Fido! Fifi! Bruno! To the stage!

Tuesday, November 16th, 2004 • 6:55pm • Permalink

John Expounded Thusly:

You just do. You grit your teeth and you curse under your breath and you say to them, “I hear what you’re saying, and I think you’re a nice person underneath it all, but I disagree.” And you let them say the same thing.

And ultimately, if it turns into Jon Stewart on Crossfire or Bill Maher’s show, at least you’ve tried and you’ve APPROACHED it from the standpoint of believing other people have the rights to their views and their beliefs, and, in the end (as Pollyanna as it sounds) it is exactly these conflicts, played out both without violence and, sadly, sometimes with, that create real and lasting change.

Tuesday, November 16th, 2004 • 8:01pm • Permalink


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