Over the past few weeks, I have come to learn a difficult truth about the woman I love. Rather than speak for her, I will share some of her words (edited for berevity’s sake), taken from something she wrote today:
I do not believe you can be both gay and a Christian. If you go by scripture then it’s not a gray area. The bible simply says it’s a sin, and I believe that living a homosexual lifestyle is a sin. So why live it? I’ve been asked that. More times than I can count. Recently, Rina and I spoke of this and she said: “What a tremendous burden you must bare, to believe that if you don’t ask for forgiveness before you die you will go to hell. Do you realize that it’s my job as someone who loves you to help you find your truth and live it?” I instantly responded, “don’t try to save me by breaking up because if it’s not you there will be another.”
That’s the way it has been for me. I cannot count the times I tried to do this on my own. “This” as in: stop being gay. I did everything ministers wanted me to do, suggested, recommended, and I’m still struggling to conquer. I’ve been in prayer lines. I dug the imaginary ditch to put my sins in to bury so they were no more. I’ve been told by several well meaning Christians that they “see” my husband. I can hear them say “you have to clean your house. Throw away everything that attaches itself to the sin. Memories. Possessions. Guard what enters my eyes and ears. So I protected my music, my movies, the TV shows I’d watch, and, well, my “husband” never came. I would get upset with God: “why, when I’m living like you want me to, did you not send him?” To me, I chose Him. I “turned away” from sin just like He asks us to. I even resisted. I broke a girl’s heart trying to resist. But I have not married. I have not found that husband. He hasn’t been sent. So here I am, knowing I can not do it on my own. I have tried it all MULTIPLE times. So now, I wait.
I haven’t changed scripture to fit my sin. I believe homosexuality is a sin, but I believe in God and I want Him in my life. I pray to Him often, if not daily. I love talking about Him. He brings life to my soul. And I would like to think He is using me, and you are seeing the beginning of the journey I am called to take. But don’t get excited as to what that is, because I don’t know, yet. But I feel Him using me. Guiding me. Directing me. Can God use me? Can God truly use someone who is in sin? Is there any scripture to back that up?
I was accused recently, “You are sinning in God’s face!” That broke my heart. Because they accused me of hurting God deliberately, as if I were taunting Him. It brings tears to my eyes, just writing that. At that moment I wanted to know: why did Jesus come here and take the stripes on his back, the humiliation, and, ultimately, His life if I could conquer sin myself? If all I had to do was to break up with a girl and live in resistance everyday in my own strength then please tell me: WHY did God put His only Son to die?
I guess I’m writing all this to say:
I am living a lifestyle that I believe is a sin. And I love God. Those two things exist within me, and I live every day struggling with the seeming contradiction of those two truths.
It is a difficult position to be in: loving someone who believes our relationship is sinful. It is difficult to know she feels that way, and it is difficult to see her struggle, to see her pain. When I told Leann that my job as someone who loves her is to help her find her truth, I wasn’t speaking of a breakup. I know that won’t help her any more than prayer lines and imaginary ditches have helped her in the past. As someone who lived as an extremely conservative, fundamentalist Christian for almost 20 years, I understand her feelings. I have struggled with this myself, even having gone so far as to cut members of my family out of my children’s lives because they were gay. Coming to terms with this in others and, ultimately, in myself has been a process of many years, and although the end result for me is a set of beliefs which are vastly different from Leann’s, I do not seek to change her opinion.
So what did I mean when I said my job is to help her find her truth? I mean that I want to help her, as much as possible, unify her actions with her beliefs. Romans 14:23 states that whatever is not from faith is sin, so regardless of my personal beliefs on whether homosexuality is a sin in God’s eyes, it is a sin in Leann’s eyes. I believe a healthy life is an integrated life, and, as someone who loves her, I want to see her whole.
So what does this mean for me?
It means I currently reside in a place of uncertainty. It means I accept that the woman I love ultimately wants to—and feels she ought to—lay our relationship aside. It means I accept the fact that there are places she does not want me to go with her, because she feels my presence shines a spotlight on her sin. It means that I accept the fact that there are times when she does not want me around her family and friends because, just for a little while, she wants to be seen for herself and not through the lens of what others perceive as sin. It means that I accept the fact that I am, at times, a source of shame in her life. And it means that I accept the fact that, ultimately, I may lose her. She may not be able to—or be meant to—live in this dichotomy forever. I may not be able to—or be meant to—hold this forever. It’s frightening to think that I may be building something with someone that is destined to crumble. Sometimes I think about the future and feel lost in a sea of doubt.
But when I lay aside my fears about the future, I arrive at one truth—one certainty that keeps me moving forward: Today, I can hold it. Today, I can love her. Today, I can accept her where she is and support her in becoming whoever she is meant to be. Today, I can help her work toward a better future, whether that future includes me or not. I could respond differently, of course. I’m a fairly intelligent person and I could probably, with enough effort, cause her to doubt her beliefs. Perhaps, over time, I could even change them. But to what purpose? Would she be who she is supposed to be—who God wants her to be—or would she be who I want her to be? In his book Anam Cara, John O’Donohue states:
“When you love someone who is very hurt, one of the worst things you can do is to directly address the hurt and make an issue out of it. A strange dynamic comes alive in the soul if you make something into an issue. It becomes a habit and keeps recurring in a pattern. Frequently, it is better simply to acknowledge there is a wound there, but then stay away from it. Every chance you get, shine the gentle light of the soul in on the wound.”
I don’t know exactly what it means to “shine the light of the soul on a wound,” but I know what it means to leave it alone. And so I try my hardest to stay in the place of love. I do all I can to support and encourage and be there for her. I work to lay aside my pain and my fear and accept her exactly as she is. I believe Leann’s beliefs are wrong. She (and others) believe her actions are wrong. But ultimately, it is love that enables change, and I believe it is love which will change her—in whatever direction she is meant to change. More than all the talking and debating and sermonizing and ditch digging, it is love which is the ultimate healer and revealer of truth. And this is what I want for her, even if it means losing her. Love will always take us where we’re meant to be.
Maybe that’s why God says this is the greatest commandment of all.
And maybe, years ago, instead of cutting my family out of my life for the “sin” of being gay, instead of making them feel bad, or unwelcomed, or ashamed… I should have loved them, too.