It is not uncommon for me to hear a fellow Christian claim that being against someone’s queer identity has no correlation with how the Christian loves that person. Although the intention to love and spread the word of God is there, in my experience hearing such a claim has only meant one thing: that you are against me as a person.
Having gone to a Catholic high school, I have had to sit through the classes where the teachers taught that “homosexuality is a sin,” but at the same time, that “we as Christians must love our gay brothers and sisters.” Love the sinner but not the sin, right?
When pushing back against this, I have heard countless times from others, “It’s like an alcoholic: We stand against the alcoholism, but stand in solidarity and in love with the alcoholic.” Baffled, I usually stop fighting and respectfully leave the conversation at that point. And it’s not because the other person said the game-winning statement: it’s because I am troubled to hear my Christian brothers and sisters relate something that is a beautiful aspect of me to a disease.
Alcoholism is a very serious and horrible disease, and I agree that we must love all those who are fighting such a devastating predicament. But to claim that my sexual orientation, since it does not conform to an ancient biblical and patriarchal “duty,” is a disease implies that homosexuality damages the homosexual, and I could not disagree more.
Let us work under the assumption that in order to fulfill the word and love of God, we as Christians must follow decrees found in the Old Testament, which is where 99 percent of anti-homosexuality rhetoric is located. If we must comply with the same law against homosexuality, then we must, by following logic, comply with the other laws in Leviticus. Must we, as Christians, refrain from eating shellfish, since this is considered a sin in the Old Testament? Are we forbidden from certain types of clothes because of the material it is made from? Are we going to be eternally damned if we refuse to cut the foreskin of a newborn male? Frankly, I would say that most, if not the majority of Christians would reply that complying with those biblical decrees would be silly in today’s society. Then why isn’t it the same thing with homosexuality?
Jesus, our Savior and Lord, never mentioned anything on homosexuality, but rather that we, as children of God, must love each other unconditionally. It is true that St. Paul mentioned that homosexuality is a sin in his letters. But he also mentioned that women should be subordinate to men, in and outside of the Church. However, I hope that many Christians would agree that we are not going to Hell if we campaign for equal and equitable rights for women.
I could continue about how the Biblical justifications against homosexuality align with other decrees that we would consider ridiculous or violation of human rights in today’s world. But that’s not the point.
The point is that LGBTQ people, no matter how much people believe otherwise, are still a discriminated minority in the country (and world). LGBTQ youth have a much higher suicide and homelessness rate in relation to their straight peers. Many states this past year tried to pass laws to protect “religious freedom,” which would have allowed property owners to deny services, including hospital care, to LGBTQ people. LGBTQ people, particularly more “effeminate” gay men or “butch” gay women, are portrayed negatively and ridiculed in the media. And to escape this world of hate and pain, my fellow queer Christians and I turn to the Church as sanctuary of love, and yet even there we are told that we must conform and cleanse ourselves of something so complex, so beautiful, so special.
I am even more troubled to hear my heterosexual brothers and sisters claim that as a community, we can force someone to change their sexuality. If you would like a better reference on this, either read or watch “Prayers for Bobby,” the story of a Christian mom who tried to guide her son away from his “sin” and who ended up committing suicide. What’s the mother doing now? She is one of the most prominent LGBTQ activists in the United States, and to this day she is sickened by ever believing that she could equate her son’s sexuality with sins.
But what really breaks my heart is to hear my straight brothers and sisters use “I have gay friends, brothers, family members, etc” as a justification for being against homosexuality but not the homosexual. Having a gay friend does not mean one is able to defend homophobia or the belief that being gay is a sin. It does not work this way. To tokenize your gay friends in order to defend hateful and hypocritical beliefs is not a representation of love. Jesus dined with the outcasts and did not judge the outcasts. Why are we not doing the same?
Jesus told his brothers and sisters, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.” One day I hope to find the love of my life. One day I hope to settle down and start a family. One day, I would like to be content with everything that I have accomplished and watch my family blossom. Our Christian communities encourage these hopes for heterosexuals, but for us queer Christians, we are discouraged and shamed.
God has created a beautiful planet with humans and animals diverse and unique in their own ways. God has given me my strengths and weaknesses, my achievements and shortcomings, my light and my dark sides. But I refuse, my fellow Christians, to believe that God has given the self-righteous duty to my heterosexual peers to condemn something that I still thank God for giving me every day. So, my straight brothers and sisters, you heard our Lord Jesus: Who’s going to be the first to throw that stone?
David J. Coletti ’17 lives in Kirkland House.
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