May I make two requests? Love me, but remember that you cannot be more merciful than God. It isn't mercy to affirm same-sex acts as good. Don't compromise truth; help me to live in harmony with it.
Over thirty years have passed since same-sex attraction rushed up from deep within my twelve-year-old frame. This attraction was unbidden and unwanted, yet simultaneously forceful and compelling.
As a Christian, the conflict between my sexuality and my faith would become the deepest and most intense of my life. Now in my forties, I've gone from being closeted to openly lesbian to celibate to heterosexually married. The fact that I need to qualify my marital union as a heterosexual one reveals how much the cultural landscape has changed in that time—just as much as my own personal landscape has, though in very different ways.
During my upbringing, I heard a few fiery sermons on homosexuality. These days, I hear declarations of love instead. They make me shout for joy. Amen! It always should have been so! At the same time, however, many pastors have begun accompanying this love with an eschewal of Biblical sexual morality as oppressive, unreasonable, or unkind. Hence, loving homosexual persons also comes to entail affirming and encouraging them in same-sex sexual relationships and behaviors.
Although I appreciate the desire to act in love, this isn't the genuine love that people like me need. Love me better than that! Thomas Aquinas scholar Josef Pieper put it this way:
love is not synonymous with undifferentiated approval of everything the beloved person thinks and does in real life. . . . [nor is it] the wish for the beloved to feel good always and in every situation and for him to be spared experiencing pain or grief in all circumstances. "Mere 'kindness' which tolerates anything except [the beloved's] suffering" has nothing to do with real love. . . . No lover can look on easily when he sees the one he loves preferring convenience to the good.
Loving me with this kind of love is neither quick nor easy. But knowledge and truth can help us both stand against the growing tide of moral capitulation. In light of this, here are seven things I wish you knew about homosexuality.
1. I wish you knew that just because I didn't choose this orientation, it doesn't follow that I was "born this way" or that "God created me gay." While genetics influences these traits, there is not a fixed predetermination. It is not hardwired like eye or skin color. I can look back and understand where it came from in my own life. Of course, others' experiences may be different from mine. But ultimately, the etiology doesn't matter. Same-sex sexual activity is outside the design and will of the good plan of God. To claim otherwise requires ignoring Scripture, historical Christian authority, and natural law. So I need help in living chastely, regardless of how my same-sex desires came to be.
2. I wish you knew a better way to help me honor my body by living in accord with the Creator's design. I was born this way: female. God did create me a woman. Please don't fall into the gnostic dualism that divides my spiritual life from the life I now live in my body. Christ became incarnate; my very body is now part of His body, the temple of the Holy Spirit. To act against its design in same-sex sexual action harms the dignity of my body. For my homosexually attracted brothers, same-sex sex harms their bodies even more because of their physiological design and the physical effects of going against that design. These bodies will be raised again. They matter.
3. I wish you knew that you aren't helping me follow Jesus either by demanding that my attractions change or by not allowing them to change. No one can promise me that my attractions will change. Jesus certainly didn't. But don't deny me that possibility either. (Especially if I'm an adolescent!) Both secular science and human experience attest to sexual fluidity and the potential for change.
4. I wish you knew a better way to define "change." Over many years, my experience of same-sex attraction went from being a continual fire to an occasional flicker. A man who still experiences same-sex attraction but is happily married to a woman, where he saw no possibility of a heterosexual relationship before, has indeed changed.
5. I wish you knew that I should be credited with the same moral agency and responsibility as everyone else in the Christian community. If unmarried heterosexuals are called to celibacy and are presumed in Christ to have the power to live out His commands, then so should I be. To treat me according to a different standard is to lower my dignity before God. I too am called to be holy.
6. I wish you knew that God teaches more about homosexual conduct than "Don't." He does teach that, but the truth about the body, sex, and the design and telos of creation reveals so much more.
7. I wish you knew that it honors neither God, nor me, to apologize for His plan or design. I appreciate empathy for the pain my misdirected longings may cause, but God is not arbitrarily withholding something good from me. He is showing me what leads to life and human flourishing and is keeping me from that which will harm me. "Let love be without dissimulation." Love me and tell me the truth.
May I make two requests? Continue to love me, but remember that you cannot be more merciful than God. It isn't mercy to affirm same-sex acts as good. Practice compassion according to the root meaning of "compassion": Suffer with me. Don't compromise truth; help me to live in harmony with it.
I'm asking you to help me take up my cross and follow Jesus.