Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Frank Clark said: "We find comfort among those who agree with us - growth among those who don't." Agree or disagree?
I agree with this thought. At least in my life I find it to be true. Let's take the subject of homosexuality for instance. I know this is a touchy subject, especially for a christian blogger. But it is one that has been on my mind and heart more and more often lately. When I was growing up in the '80's if I thought of homosexuality at all (I was very sheltered) I thought of it as a sin. That is after all what they taught us in church. Right? Though honestly, I don't remember this subject ever being openly discussed in my home or my church. But somewhere along the way I definitely picked up the notion that it was a sin or even a sickness. And everyone I knew agreed with that opinion, or seemed to. Being called "gay" was a terrible insult, a cruel and hurtful thing said in whispers behind someone's back or loud and sarcastically to their face. It was a bad thing.
Growing up in a small town (one I still live in) before the spread of the worldwide web, I wasn't really exposed to a lot of different ideas about religion and sin. For many years I didn't even recognize the difference between faith and religion. I was a sheep, blindly following the sheep in front of me instead of looking to the shepherd. I never even considered questioning what I "knew" to be true. It was only when I began to make friends with people from outside our little town that I began to question my beliefs and perceptions.
In the mid '90's a lesbian couple moved in next door to us. I actually knew one of the women from school, we will call her Sue, but she had been gone from home for many years. Sue used to enjoy trying to shock me with bawdy talk and a lot of public affection for her girlfriend. She seemed to love to try to throw me, probably because she knew how sheltered I was (read nerdy and socially awkward) growing up. She did manage to embarrass me once or twice, but mostly she made me think. We discussed her time in the service and her dishonorable discharge because she was "outed" and would not out others. We talked about trans-gender issues and HIV (her brother had died from it). I have always been the agreeable sort, ready to meet half way on any issue to keep the peace. So I never argued with her, I listened. And what I heard changed me. I didn't always agree with her, but I began to see that maybe I didn't have all the answers, that maybe my beliefs weren't really the whole story. Maybe things weren't so cut and dry. I can't say I had an epiphany or anything, there was no "eureka" moment my blinded eyes were opened to the "truth". In fact it was only years later that I realized what she had done for me. I believe completely that her friendship was the beginning of my journey to understanding myself and my walk with God better. It was the first time I questioned what I "knew". It was the first time I can remember deciding for myself what I believed rather than blindly following the flock.
When I think back on the girl I was I really can't believe how naive and narrow minded I was. I actually believed I understood the mind of God! I sat in judgement, thinking I knew best. Oh, I never (or I hope I never) openly hurt anyone with cruel comments and opinions. I never harassed anyone or called them a sinner out loud. But in my heart....well, my heart was a very limited place. I am grateful beyond measure for that couple and for all the friends and acquaintances who came after, the people whose opinions were so radically different from mine on many issues and who made me think in new ways.
**For the record, these days I believe one thing, all sin is equal and I am no one's judge. Personally, I can no longer look at a gay or lesbian couple and see sin. I see two people who love each other, whose lives are not perfect, whose relationship is not perfect. People like me and my husband, just trying to be with the person they love. Is loving someone a sin? That one is way above my pay grade, but I don't think so. **