A Matter of Perspective
Things certainly don’t look the same to me at age 83 as they did at 23, or 53, or even 73. That’s not a visual problem. I’ve had my cataracts removed and my sight is still 20/20. It’s a matter of perspective. The older I get, the further I can look backward and place the events of my life in perspective. And those events, those experiences, color my view of the present and the future.
In my teens and twenties, struggling with the knowledge of my same sex attraction (and thinking I was the only one so afflicted) the concept of same sex marriage wasn’t even a thought. It wasn’t on the scale of remote possibility. I was probably in my 30s or 40s before I first heard a whisper that same sex marriage was on the radar screen of a few gay and lesbian leaders. My response to that possibility was, It’ll never happen.
But it has happened. And it will continue to happen. From the perspective of my current age I have no question same sex marriage will eventually become a universal possibility in the United States and throughout the Western world. The march toward equality for gays and lesbians in recent decades has moved with unbelievable speed. And yet, I was reminded reading a Frank Bruni Op-Ed piece in the March 5, 2013 issue of the New York Times, some things don’t change at all. Some things just stay the same.
Bruni’s article was titled “Reading God’s Mind.” In it he describes a September Cape Cod same-sex wedding of a fellow writer, Jeff Chu, with about 80 people in attendance.
His parents weren’t among them.
They wouldn’t celebrate the day because their son was pledging his devotion to another man. In the rigidity of their Southern Baptist belief system (sold to the elder Chus by Southern Baptist missionaries working in China) a love between two men was against God’s wishes.
Bruni writes, “Against God’s wishes. That notion—that argument—is probably the most stubborn barrier to the full acceptance of gay and lesbian Americans, a last bastion and engine of bigotry. It’s what some preachers still thunder. It’s what some politicians still maintain.”
Chu himself, in a book titled Does Jesus Really Love Me, writes, “How many nights have I spent sweaty and panicked and drained of tears, because I thought I would go to hell—for being gay, for being me.” Often he prayed that, “God would take these feelings from me.”
I uttered those same prayers and asked the same question, Does Jesus really love me? sixty or seventy years ago. And those questions and prayers have recurred for millions of gay and lesbian Christians throughout the ages.
Most of us, somewhere along the line, realize that this omniscient, omnipresent much revered God, is the same God who created me as I am. Most of us recognize that the much ballyhooed direct line to and from the ear of God, claimed by preachers and Popes, is arrogance. …Most of us also eventually realize that the few Biblical passages supposedly condemning homosexuality are human interpretations of fragments of texts whose translations have been by humans. Those humans were shaped by their times and were as prone to error as any other humans.
Bruni, referring to the Biblical texts on same sex relations, questions, “Are they timeless verities or— more logically—reflections of an outmoded culture and obsolete mind-set? And if all of the Bible is to be taken literally, shouldn’t Christians refrain from planting multiple kinds of seed in one field, or letting women speak in church, or charging interest to the poor?” (All of which are Biblical prohibitions.)
It makes me sad to know that while gays and lesbians march rapidly toward same sex marriage and equality, some of our brethren are still struggling with the question of Does Jesus love me? It makes me sad that the “last bastion and engine of bigotry,” those who arrogantly claim to know God’s wishes, still holds sway over the lives of some gay and lesbian Christians. Chu says, “You can twist the Bible any way you want. We overemphasize sexual morality, as if God puts a premium on what we do in the bedroom over what we do at the bank.”
My own suspicion is that God’s wishes are much more stringent on banking practices than on sexual practices. At least Jesus, as I recall, threw the money changers (the bankers) out of the Temple in Jerusalem but I never heard of him tossing anyone out of bed.
I’m thrilled with the change that has occurred in my lifetime for gays and lesbians in the United States. I’m saddened that bigotry in the name of God remains entrenched.
John Siegfried, a former Rehoboth resident, lives in Ft. Lauderdale. Email John Siegfried