Come Out for Love

Today is National Coming Out Day. To celebrate, I’m reposting my essay about a portion of my journey to becoming a gay-affirming Christian. This was a bit of a coming out for me when it originally posted in March of 2011. Sadly, the comments to the original post got lost in the move to WordPress, but I’d love to hear your thoughts. To those who have suffered at the hands of the Church, please know that there are those of us who love you just the way you are.

As always, a huge thanks to Tina for sharing her journey with me, and for allowing me to share parts of it with you. I’m a better person thanks to her.

++++++++

I’m Alise, and I affirm gay relationships.

This wasn’t something that I came to lightly. Rather, this has been a long journey that I have spent years waffling, thinking, studying, and praying about before finally coming to a decision.

Tina dyeing my hair at Camp Happy

I don’t think I’ve ever thought that being gay was a sin. It never made sense to me that being attracted to someone could be inherently wrong and nothing in the Scripture seemed to indicate that it was sinful. Everything seemed to be related to action rather than attraction, so I made my peace with it and just camped there for a long time. Of course, living in a small town and having no friends who were out certainly made it easier to simply not think about it and when I went to college all of the gay friends that I had were decidedly not Christian, so their sexual orientation didn’t have any bearing on my theology.

And then things changed.

My closest friend from high school was in a climbing accident that left her severely injured and which killed her best friend. And as we sat on the deck of her parents’ house, her covered in bruises, broken, and grieving, she told me that her friend was more than simply a good friend. She had lost someone not only who she loved, but with whom she was in love. All of a sudden, everything that I knew about being a gay Christian was challenged.

For fourteen years I rolled this issue around in my head. I went online and talked to gay Christians who had no problem embracing their sexual orientation and their faith. I read articles and books about the difficult passages of Scripture that seem to condemn homosexual behavior. I examined nearly every avenue I could in trying to come to some peace, but peace would not be found.

If I came to the conclusion that homosexuality was not a sin, there could be a rift in relationships with a number of people – people who probably thought I believed the way I did on nearly everything else just to be contentious. I didn’t know how to look at a pastor and say, “I think you and most of your colleagues with years of biblical training are wrong about this issue.” I didn’t know how to tell my family, “Add this to the list of thing that I don’t agree with you about.” I didn’t know how to tell my kids, “You’re probably going to be told that homosexuality is a sin, but I don’t think it is.”

I could do this with things that affected me more directly. I could explain why I primarily vote Democrat and consider myself a liberal. I could carry on a discussion about why I accept theistic evolution and have a real problem with things like the Creation Museum. I could talk about social justice and the importance of caring for the poor. But gay stuff? Why would I put my neck out on the line for that? I’m a straight, married, stay-at-home mom of four. What’s the up-side to me not just supporting gay rights, but going one step further and affirming gay relationships in the Church?

Tina and me at a friend’s wedding

Of course, if I came to the conclusion that homosexuality was a sin, there was only one person where there could be a relational shift. But that one person was important to me. She was a person with whom I had shared fake birthdays. She was a person who invented games with me. She was a person who had been my best friend during my unbearably awkward teenage years. And she was a person who wanted what I had – to share her life with someone who she loved.

I spent years agonizing over this.

And then it clicked.

God is love.

I want to make it more complicated than that, but that’s it. God is love. Two people wanting to share love is of God. John 13:35 tells us how we know we’re being disciples of Jesus – we love. Love isn’t something that needs to be fixed or healed or redeemed. It’s already the highest law. It’s what God created us to do.

There are other reasons why I’ve come to this conclusion (I highly recommend Jack Rogers’s excellent resource, Jesus, the Bible and Homosexuality for a more thorough examination of the Scriptures and history surrounding the issue), but the primary reason is because of love. So maybe I can change my opening statement just a little bit.

I’m Alise, and I affirm love.

  • Dawn Paoletta

    I love my gay friends and my God. I trust God for the things that are not clear to me and believe no one denomination has it all right. But I also hold to scripture, and truth that supports unpopular positions. I do not claim to have all the answers but I do walk by faith, with love, not hate toward anyone.

  • http://www.inamirrordimly.com/ Ed_Cyzewski

    Love can indeed be costly, but that’s why it’s important to note that love is the highest way we can relate to others. It’s costly but it’s worth it. Thanks for sharing your journey Alise.

  • http://cindyholman.com/ Cindy Holman

    Tough subject. We too have gay friends and were raised AG. We are changing our mind on this issue too and have been pleased that the United Methodist Church where we now attend clearly accepts all people no matter what their sexual orientation. It is a journey for us as we try to unravel years of teaching on the subject – but like you I believe in love. That is all.

  • Pingback: Days worth honoring « unchained faith

  • beverlyakabuddy

    Hi Alise. I’ve seen this article of yours before and probably commented more than once, but I felt compelled to say something now having read this again. One thing that stands out to me, not only in your article, but in the comments as well is that people a generation younger than mine seem to always say something about “all my gay friends.” That is why it was probably so much harder for me to come around on this than you, because there were no gay friends when I was growing up, not in school, church, college or even when I joined the work force. Now and then there were rumors that people like me laughed off because it just couldn’t possibly be true, gayness didn’t really exist except for a tiny minority in San Francisco, most of them of the artistic set, a bit flambouyant and always eccentric. I can’t even say that I was taught that homosexuality was a sin because it just was never discussed. There were jokes, but I thought that’s all they were, jokes, that people weren’t really that way.
    When I started going to church again for the first time in my marriage around 15 years ago, around the same time you and I became Jezzie friends on the AOL Message Boards, I became aware for the first time that the Baptists (at least the ones I knew) thought it was a sin. I had never thought of it that way before. An oddity, and probably not something most people would ever want to be in the everyday life I knew, but not really sinful. I always felt that it was no one’s business what two consenting adults did in the privacy of their own bedrooms. But now this was supposed to be something that we as Christians needed to speak out against. As you know, I went through many agonizing years of trying to force myself into some semblence of acceptable Christianity. There so many issues that I struggled about for myself, wifely submission, my number one bugaboo, as it just seemed to make women less in value and personhood and glorify the male sex, which I had fought against all my life, so other than just dismissing gay sex as something Christians did not do or approve of, it wasn’t my biggest priority.
    I have changed a lot and am so far left now in my views of most things that if I go any further, I may be right again. LOL! What I know in my heart is that people are people, and all people know what the hurt of rejection feels like. I still don’t know of many gay people, but I am retired and my exposure to people of all walks of life is smaller now. I am once again without a church home and stopped attending when I realized that even though it was not preached, most of the congregation were Tea Party folks, and that just goes against my grain. I guess I’ll summarize here by saying that I am sorry if my attitude ever hurt anyone, and even though it was like chipping away at a huge stone formation around my heart on this subject, I no longer feel the way I once did. Alise and her friend Tina has a lot to do with opening my eyes and changing my values on this subject.

  • Pingback: The way to find a certain something