Very rarely do I respond to comments made via posts using social media outlets. I find that when doing so, it can lead to confrontations from one user to another, going back and forth for a significant amount of time and in the end, no one’s mind has been changed. As a matter of fact, the exchange may cause the participants in questions to cling to their initial beliefs and not take into consideration what the other user is trying to say, even if their perspective is valid.
Such is the case as to what happened with me yesterday when I responded to a post made on a news reporting site that I subscribe to entitled The Root. The topic was on the experiences of being a black gay male in the South; and as expected, there were many people that weighed in on the subject, both pro and con.
As a journalist, it’s been my experience to respect the beliefs of others even if I don’t agree with them, no matter how extreme. After all, in this world, I cannot (nor should I) expect everyone to agree with me.
However, whenever the topic of homosexuality comes up, it lights a firestorm of controversy and it pits people against people. There are those who are dead set against it and will use scripture to validate why they feel the way they do, something that is definitely within their right. There are those that are for it and can also use scripture to back up why they feel as they do. And then there are those that couldn’t care less one way or the other.
I have listened over the years to what devout Christians in many of our churches have said in sermon after sermon, Sunday after Sunday:
“Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind; it is abomination.”
Leviticus Chapter 18, Vs 22.
I understand it very well and have struggled with this statement as I am a gay male, and have sought counsel about this for many years. This one sentence comprised of twelve words has been the source of many a gay man’s pain, including myself. It has given devout Christians throughout the United States the necessary ammunition to condemn, exclude and ostracize.
I have prayed about this for years and have asked God humbly for the blessings of wisdom, compassion, understanding and knowledge; and I continue to do so, not because I don’t believe that He/She in their infinite wisdom and mercy hasn’t given it to me, but because every situation warrants a different degree of discernment.
In my quest to get to know the God that I serve intimately, I have found one key thing to be true. God loves me. God loves me for everything that I am as well as everything that I am not. I also know that at the end of my time on this planet, God will judge me. I am sure that one of the questions that will be asked of me is what have I done to show/reflect His/Her love and mercy in this world? What have I done to make His/Her creation a better place? This will be a conversation that will be both intimate and personal and will occur between me and the one that I serve.
Am I perfect? No. Not by any means. Am I deserving of residing with my Lord in the Kingdom of Heaven? Well, let’s see, I believe in Jesus…I believe that He died so that I might live. And I also believe that in those twelve words in the book of Leviticus, it does not say that I will go straight to Hell because I am gay; because also nestled within that book are commands of things that we should and should not do in accordance with the Law of that time. And to my understanding, Jesus came to fulfill the Law. It is in His death that it is possible for me to not only have a loving relationship with God as I understand Him/Her, but to continue on my journey to become the man that God intended me to be.
Being gay is only a part of who I am. Being gay is something that you are, not something that you do. I did not choose to be gay and I refuse to live a lie and marry a woman and have children only to know that deep down in my heart, I would much rather be with a man. That wouldn’t be fair to me, or her or our children.
I have found that people that can back up their hatred of the gay and lesbian community and use scripture to back it up really don’t despise them because it is written in the bible. I have never heard anyone that spoke ill of the community that I belong to say it in any manner other than one of abhorrence and condemnation. And when they do speak of it, it is coming from a place that has nothing to do with God. They find the concept of a man being with another man disgusting, nasty and intolerable. They happen to have those twelve words from the bible to back up what they feel, almost as if God is giving them carte Blanche to hate. And if you hate gay men and women, that’s fine as we do live in a nation where you are entitled to your beliefs and perspectives just as long as you understand that you are commanded to love first and foremost by the God that we all serve. You can find a place in the bible to substantiate your feelings; good bad or otherwise.
I was told by the woman on The Root’s website that perhaps I didn’t read and interpret the bible in its entirety. I only read the parts of the bible that served my purpose. She went on to state that if I were a real student of the bible, I wouldn’t make such contrary statements. She said that she is a true believer, student of the bible as well as someone who tries to live her life for God and not for her (meaning mine) selfish pleasures.
As I stated to her, it’s not about living for my own “selfish pleasure.” It’s about living my life and walking my walk with God. I stated to her what I am stating to you now. What she said would imply that everyone should be living exactly as she is living right here and now. But everyone’s walk is different. She is making the assumption that because I am not agreeing with her one hundred percent that this somehow makes me less of a Christian. Or even worse, it is saying that because I am gay, I will never get to Heaven.
I get it.
The issue for me is as someone that has struggled with this topic for so long, I have made the willful decision to accept God’s love for me and will worship accordingly. God has blessed me abundantly. I have gotten down on my knees first thing in the morning to pray that he protect me and mine as well as those that don’t love me. Sometimes, I have been selfish in my prayer requests, asking that He/She just give me the fortitude to make it through the day. And God has heard me.
I believe that our God is a God of love and mercy. I believe that He/She longs to bless each and every one of us. I also believe that every single one of us has fallen short of His/Her expectation of us and that at the end of the day, we will all be judged for what we have and have not done. It doesn’t matter how much scripture we can quote from the top of our heads. Quoting scripture doesn’t mean anything if you cannot or will not live your life with love, compassion and honesty.
As for me, I try to live my life with these attributes every day. Some days, I am able to do it. Other days, I fall miserably short. Each day, I talk to God about it.
I know what it says in the bible. I’ve read the bible from cover to cover and continue to read it because each time I do, I glean something different every single time. I will never know everything there is to know about God. I don’t think there is one person that will. I just hope that at the end of my time here, He/She will look at me and say, “Welcome Home.”
~ J.L. Whitehead