Love’s Hard Lessons

Love has been a hard lesson for me, especially the love of God. I can understand the wrath, the anger, and the punishments of God, but somehow, His love can elude me. When I understand His love, it is intoxicating, heady. When I do not, I feel darkness grappling at my soul, threatening to suffocate me.

My most difficult journey has been as a lesbian Christian. It has been, at times, like leaping off a cliff in hopes that somehow, some way, God will catch me. I am well-versed in the fundamentalist views of who I am — sinner, reprobate, liar, abomination. But I am not a liar because after almost ten years of fighting the hell raging within me, condemning myself at every sideways glance at a woman, feeling like I could with my own hands, rip my spiritually decomposing soul out … even considering suicide as an alternative to the constant bombardment of my own orientation, after all this, I quit the farce. I quit saying that I was healed, quit agreeing that “those kind of perverts make a choice”. That was the greatest lie that gnawed at my conscience: “If I was making a choice, and I was, then why wasn’t I straight? Where were the feelings for men?” Why did I have to live a life devoid of a soulmate, condemned by my own heart? I was “choosing” to be straight, and yet, I wasn’t. In this, I became sort of a self-righteous peacock, preening before the modern Pharisees who happily listened.

I did notice that even then, I was not invited to gatherings as much, and suddenly, like a bead of water on a hot pan, a friendship would turn to steam and dissipate. I would feel then that one of my trusted “friends” had passed on my secret. I learned that “Christian love” to gays meant reviling them, picketing them, and condemning them. The hypocrisy in this, is that I have rarely seen this done to the others that they consider “sinners”. (Barring the occasional picket outside a flesh shop, or at abortion clinics) I have never seen them descend like mad bees with signs at rock concerts where sex, drugs and rock and roll rule the day, and have never seen a church picket themselves when they discover a divisive person, or greedy person in their midst. But I have seen them outside a funeral of a young gay man, and in droves at Pride festivals, handing out little paper pamphlets promising God’s Love if you “turn”, and God’s Wrath if you do not. I have never seen the “God hates fags” organization at the funeral of an alcoholic or a hypocrite though God has quite a bit to say about both. I, myself, have never been exhorted by anyone for the false witness I breathed for almost ten years, and that is on the Big List of Ten.

So, in my lesbian world, even from my own soul, which houses a little tiny Pharisee, finding God’s Love, without strings, and without compromise is the hardest road I have ever walked. It is a journey I begin every day anew. For many, coming to Christ means bringing yourself, and letting Him change you. For the gay person, it means first and foremost, according to their doctrine, you cannot be gay. Christ expects a little more from the homosexual you see. His death was not enough. “But,” you say “We must repent from things!” and I agree. I have repented, truly, honestly and genuinely from being gay, but I woke up, and still was. “But,” you say again, “it’s like alcoholism. You must do your twelve steps, and stay away from bars and liquor stores.” The fallacy of that, is that relationships are not like liquor. To eschew the human experience, to only find people who are unattractive in mind and spirit brings on a different kind of abnormality … the inability to make and maintain relationships. I know this because I lived this way. I was taught not to get too close to women, or I’d “fall” for them. Then, also, the church does not encourage close friendships with the opposite sex unless it leads to marriage, so I was caught on my own personal Alcatraz … too terrified to get to know anyone. They called it “dependency”, but the line between that, and a healthy, loving, human bond is narrow, if not blurred. So, I lived in a world where I could not get close to anyone, and was constantly assailed by the “Wrath of God”. It seemed He did not have anything nice to say to me, except the general “God loves you” occasionally, and I began to wonder what kind of faith I had. A fearful faith. An angry faith. What was peace, and God’s love?

I “came out” not to become homosexual per se, but because I thought maybe then, I could let it go to God. Maybe I was trying way too hard. Perhaps if I accepted myself, then he would descend in a joyful “whoosh”, touch my brain, and I would awake one morning unable to take my eyes off men. I had made a virtual “god” out of heterosexuality. Christ was no longer the goal, being straight was. It was like I had fashioned a golden calf in the shape of a man and woman holding hands. Even with all my fears, deep within my soul, I trusted Christ. That was the cord that held me. For a time, I attempted to become a “party girl”, and tried to turn my back on God. I say “tried” because more I ignored Him, the louder His silence was, until I realized I missed Him … I loved Him, I loved being a part of Him even if it meant that I shouldn’t swear, get drunk, and sleep around. I began looking at the life of Christ, and realized this God-man was not the sanitized little blond cherub in a (clean) manger full of straw in a Crèche’. He had been real. He had deserved to be born into a mansion, perhaps in our modern times so when He grew up, He could have a Mercedes-Benz to drive to preaching engagements, and baptisms. Instead, God chose that He should be born to a two unmarried, but betrothed teens in a dim cave heavy with the musky smell of animal refuse. (Imagine being a young girl today trying to “explain” she got pregnant by God.) He was born so He could look into my eyes, not tower over me in the righteousness He well deserved. He hung out not with the religious “in” crowd of Pharisees and Scribes, but with people I could relate to … the good and the bad, and even those who would betray Him. I doubt that I would want to hang out with a person I knew would hand me over to the authorities to die miserably. I would have probably said, “Do you have any other friends?” And, then He hung for me. On a cross, painfully, separated from all He loved. This is when He towered over me. I am standing in the shadow of that cross at Golgotha, a lesbian, a sinner, in need of that Man to die and rise again.

Maybe I am a worse sinner than others. There are times when I take that cross for granted, not understanding its importance, and other times, when I need to offer that hope to others that I am silent. I am caught in the middle: hated and reviled by Christians who say I am deceived, that I cannot be gay and Christian, and by gays who have been so hurt by the condemnation they no longer want to listen to anyone, even one of their own. I have hung in the balance, but I realize, so did He. In a bigger balance, between Heaven and earth. Being a lesbian has humbled me in ways I never had been humbled. I was stripped of my self-righteous cloak. When accused of “living a lifestyle of sin” I began to realize who among us does not? If I was straight, I would still live a “lifestyle” of sin. That is why He died. But, I do not believe that homosexuality is one.

I have done a word study on the words translated as “homosexuality” from the Greek, and Aramaic, and have a different interpretation. What makes mine, and many other people’s interpretation wrong? I have studied, and come to another conclusion: Whether I understand it, feel it every moment, or speak it, True Love was born into a darkened stable and laid on a bed of straw in a manger. True Love reached out to a woman at a well working on a possible sixth husband, but so untouchable, other Samaritan women did not want to associate with her. True Love hung on a cross as His friends fled. It is now easier to talk about Jesus with other people, even if they reject it, scorn it, spit on it. I realized my witness wasn’t in preaching things I did not know, and could not fathom, but in sharing my everyday experience. It’s like I have told people: “I cannot prove God exists, but I know He is there. I see His Footprints in my life. See Him hanging on a cross with splinters tearing into His back as I have run and hidden behind a closed door. I know He is there because of experience. It is not my imagination. Answered prayers, the feeling of comfort descending on me like a blanket, and those times where you really, truly feel like you are communicating with God cannot be all poppycock and vain imaginings.” Sometimes, in the tempest of my life, like the clouds that come and water the earth, like the unsearchable and mysterious universe, I just have to believe in this True Love.