Christian Support {civil at least, friendly at best}

After watching a local viewing of the documentary Seventh-Gay Adventists, I shared what I took from it in the post How to Be a Christian by loving unconditionally and listening. I followed that up with How to Be a Christian Part II where law and love unite. The resulting conversations from these posts seemed to all lead to a common question:  How do we support our brothers- and sisters-in-Christ who live a lifestyle very different from our own without appearing to support that lifestyle?

This question represents so much more than homosexuality that doesn't get discussed. Sadly, the conversation often ends there, because we haven't realized until now that we only know how to love others like us.

Today, I will be giving the post over to someone with perspective "from the other side" that most of us tune out.

I asked a couple friends:
What would you say to someone who wants to support and encourage their gay friends without supporting a gay lifestyle? Is that possible? And, what would support from your Christian family look like?
I got very thoughtful and insightful answers in return.

Here is one response from a childhood friend, Justin. He is the mastermind behind Just Gibs design and photography, and blogs at just g!bs. Read what he has to say about showing Christian support.

- - -

I'm the type of person who wants others—friends, acquaintances, strangers—to like me, so I tend to take it personally and often hold grudges when I feel disrespected. On the other hand, I've been exposed to enough homophobia (yes, that includes "That's gay!" and "No homo.") to become largely desensitized to it. That being said, I believe it's possible for others to support me while not necessarily supporting homosexuality; I think it comes down to being civil at least, friendly at best.

When I came out online (via my blog and Facebook profile), the visible response was completely supportive, and I am incredibly thankful for that. I have many friends, both heterosexual and homosexual, who take a lot of flack for their gay-friendly posts, and I'm sure some of my "friends" look the other way when my posts show up in their feed. I wanted to reach out to anyone else feeling trapped in the closet and hopefully change other people's minds for the better, and both of those things happened the day I came out. One girl said that she grew up in a very conservative home but had lately been struggling to learn more about and be more accepting of homosexuals, while a PK (pastor's kid) said that he wasn't sure if he was "allowed" to support me with an online "Like" or comment but that this wouldn't change our friendship at all. I also appreciated that two College View Church pastors reached out to me, though I'm still unsure just how the church can help me or vice versa; just like at Union College, it seems difficult to start a ministry or group when the potential members are scared of being exposed and labeled.

It's been interesting—and sometimes awkward—hanging out with some friends and acquaintances since my announcement. Most don't mention it, which could mean that they don't care and/or don't want to address the elephant in the room. Honestly, I don't think my being gay will fully hit me or my friends and family until I start dating, if or when that happens. I don't even know where to start in the dating realm because it's so foreign to me and I'm not sure what I desire in a partner (and if it's Adventist and/or Christian, that's obviously a small demographic in my case). I feel like my teenage and college dating years were robbed from me, making me even more awkward and resistant to opening up to someone else.

I stopped attending church because their official stance as a Seventh-Day Adventist (SDA) organization makes me feel unwelcome (I have since visited a gay-friendly church in town) and after so many years of pretending to be straight and essentially setting aside my views to attend, the church can't even meet me halfway? I don't expect the SDA Church to endorse homosexuality, but not denouncing it at every turn would be a great start.

What really gets me is when homosexuality is likened to a sin like stealing. Speaking for myself, stealing is a choice or habit that can be avoided or reversed, whereas being gay is at the core of my being. It's not like I can go, "Whoops, I was really gay today, so I'll try to do better tomorrow." And for people who think it is a choice, why would I choose to join a minority and paint a huge target on my back for judgement?

When the state of Maryland affirmed same-sex marriage, the SDA Church swiftly responded with a reminder that homosexuality is wrong. Was that really necessary? Did anybody really think that the church had changed its view on the matter, now or ever? That action read as hateful to me. Also, activist Carrol Grady's anti-bullying booth was uninvited from the recent SDA teachers' convention because of her support for same-sex marriage. Isn't it possible for the church to maintain its stance while at least supporting the well-being of all bullied students, including gays and lesbians? It seems like the decent, Christian thing to do.

Even if I wasn't gay (still not a choice, in my eyes), I think I'd still be disenchanted with the SDA Church along with many of my friends. I'll continue looking for love and letting others know where I find it.

- - -

This response is exactly the kind of voice that I feel is being neglected in much of "the Church's" reaction to the marriage discussion. There is so much more to the story than we'll ever understand. Which is why it's so wonderful that God is judge and not us!

Thank you, Justin, for being so open and honest. Keep opening yourself to Christ's love!