I definitely believe that “loving our enemies” may, at times, be one of the most difficult things about living the Christian Way. And as a bisexual man whose ideal marriage consists of being committed to both a wife and male partner (openly and honestly) and who is also a Christian who loves God very much, I have a lot of people who I might perceive as an enemy. Whether I see them as “enemies” or not, that is often how they choose to see me. I’m an “enemy” to heterosexuals because I am attracted to the same sex as well as the opposite and therefore at best, “disturbed” and at worst a “sinner” or “demon possessed.” I’m an “enemy” to homosexuals because my bisexuality is perceived to challenge the defense that “homosexuality is a choice” — as if bisexuality or heterosexuality were choices as well. What does it say that we as LGBT people think of ourselves when we say, “I’m this way, and I cannot help it, I wish I could change but I cannot.” To me it makes it very difficult to develop any real sense of self worth as a creation of God to see ourselves as a popular LGBT bashing icon put it, “biological errors.” I guess this person thinks God makes a few mistakes here and there. Because I am intimate with two people instead of one in my relationship, I am seen as an “enemy” to gay/lesbian marriage rights and to mainstream acceptance of sexual minorities in the church. And because I am poly-fidelitous I am even perceived as an enemy to my own community by some bisexuals, even though I do the best I can to be responsible and honest in all that I do. Because I am a “passive” (or “bottom”) I am seen as an enemy to acceptance of same-sex sexual love by some people. And of course, a lot of conservative Christians see me as the enemy working for the devil, which they seem to me to talk about far more than Jesus Christ or God’s Love.
I may not believe in a literal “personification” of the devil, but I do believe that evil exists in a form of negative energy called fear. This fear gets a grip on us when we deny that God made us, loves us, and wants the best for us. It causes us in the best of times to simply feel distant, and in the worst to lash out carelessly or even maliciously at the rest of God’s children, making us all enemies of one another.
Yes, granted I have some very liberal interpretations of Scripture, but that certainly does not mean that I take them any less seriously or lightly. I really believe that a lot of more conservative Christians who make such a stir over what they believe to be “sins of the flesh” such as non-heterosexual sexuality, or sexuality in general, even when it is practiced lovingly between consenting adults, and demonize things that are in fact very natural, things that Jesus Himself said very little about in His ministry on Earth, stems from the fact that what Jesus focused on is so difficult for us as human beings to follow, given our nature. One of these treasures Christ gifted us with was the admonition, or advice, if you will, to not judge one another, lest we find ourselves judged. And, the most difficult but in my opinion the most gloriously beautiful and wise admonition of all, to love our enemies and bless them instead of curse them. For I feel it is their own sense of fear and pain that causes them to feel the need to cause us pain, and we them, in retaliation. Christ was the love as He forgave his killers that gave us the key to breaking that chain of fear and hurt forever, if we embrace His teachings.
Have you ever noticed how those who judge end up being judged themselves? We, as LGBT people, are called “intolerant” when we protest the fundamentalists from sharing their faith, and we call them intolerant for the way they treat us. Am I suggesting that we condone their intolerance for who God made us to be? No, no one ever said we have to agree with it. But, I personally feel there is a way of speaking our truth and our faith by demonstrating in the way we treat others that is a greater testimonial of God’s Love than anything we could say in retaliation to even the most fiery Bible-based condemnation of LGBT people and our diversity. For I feel it is my unrelenting faith in God, even when people try to tell me that God is “angry” with me because I am bisexual, have sexual intimacy and love with both a woman and a man that they believe to be “un-natural” and “un-Biblical” or even “un-Christian”, and because I do not take the Bible as literally true but rather a book about God and Jesus and how humankind first began to know God through the Prophets and then Christ and His teachings, even when they threaten me with hell and God’s wrath, that makes me want to look at them and say, “God Bless You” or “Jesus Loves You” instead of playing “scripture wars” with them and trying to win a battle that has no winners. In my opinion it divides and focuses on that on which we disagree instead of focusing on the Christ in one another. I know how it feels to be loathed as an enemy by others. So even if it kills me, I will do my best to maintain my loving heart when I am being beaten down with hateful talk that hurts worse than the physical assault of any LGBT-bashing person in a dark alley. Because the love in my heart keeps me from wanting to give that pain back to someone who obviously is hurting so much and overflowing with it that they have to give it to others who they are targeting. To me it’s about giving back love. If we pray for God to help them feel more loved and cared for, perhaps their need to share pain will be replaced with a need to share love instead. I know God did that for me.
I knew a Satanist at one time, who hated me and hated God and all happiness and joy in life. This person said they had placed a “curse” upon me. And I tried the following visualization to try and send love to this person. Rather than imagining an angel with armor and a sword “defending” me from a curse that I did not really believe existed, I imagined this person who was so angry at me coming face to face with Jesus the way I picture Him — the most kind, caring and gentle human being that one could ever imagine, simply radiant and overflowing with a white light of love and warmth, eyes that speak nothing but unconditional love for everyone, the personification of God’s Love. Instead of picturing Him scolding this person, I imagined their eyes meeting and Him taking their hand and giving them a loving hug, saying, “God Loves you with an eternal and unconditional love, why are you in such pain?” The fear would literally wash from this person’s soul, and a peace coming over them. That is how I think the real Jesus would end fear and pain, by simply loving a person.
I have sometimes heard Christians who are LGBT accepting, even LGBT Christians speak of those who persecute us as the “real” sinners, whom God will cast judgement and hell upon at some future date, or that Jesus will come and deal with harshly for their judgment of us. Yet to me, to imagine the Jesus I know coming to lay waste to people who may have hurt me, my friends, or my brothers and sisters in the LGBT community, is something it hurts to even think about. For to believe in such a vision of Christ to me is not to really know His Love at all. I think God literally loves the hate out of people, if they let God, and allow the Spirit of the Loving Christ into their heart and soul. To think that Jesus or God will destroy our enemies is to me to miss the mark. I believe that those which on the surface may appear to be our enemies, those who hurt us, cast us out and fight us, are really souls trapped in the fear, hurt, and pain that can result from believing in a God of conditional love, jealousy, control, wrath, and restrictions. And to attempt to “fight hell by giving them hell” is, in my opinion, not what Jesus would do and can sometimes be a disastrous approach for us in the LGBT Community to take. I think that Jesus instructed us to love and pray for our enemies and bless those who curse us because He knew as a child of the Loving God that our enemies are in pain, and need the love we can give as Christians more than ever.
“What Would Jesus Do?” is still a very relevant question to me when making decisions on how to react to prejudice, manipulation, judgment, and hate from another, whether it is well or ill-intentioned, whether it is intentional or careless, whether it is from a conservative heterosexual Christian telling me that I need to “straighten up and repent” or a conservative gay Christian telling me to “come out as gay and leave my wife” because, “it’s okay to be gay or straight but one must choose one or the other and be monogamous.” I realize that in being bisexual, and having intimacy with a person of both genders in my life honestly is not something everyone can understand, and that’s okay. But I think it is in how I choose to respond to those who do not understand that will allow me to best show my beliefs about God.
As Jesus was dying upon the cross, in the name of Love for all of us, it would be a quite different story had He shouted out, “You heathen people! You think you’ve got me now, but I’m coming back and you’ll be sorry! My Father will make you sorry you ever did this!” No, He forgave them, and asked God to love and forgive them-asking that God forgive them because they did not know what they were doing-I believe that means that their pain and suffering was so great that they were blinded to the unconditional Love God wants to give us all. He blessed them with prayer as they murdered him, which to me makes Him a lot more than a mere human being or a myth as He is to some people. Only a human being who is deeply in touch with God’s Love and Grace and who has God within their very being could do such a thing. While I think God has no intention of having us suffer when other people hurt us, I think God can give us the strength if we call of the Loving Spirit of Jesus to help us to respond to hate with love and tear the entire fabric of hate that has built up over the years one thread by one. By that example.
If you have ever looked into the eyes of someone doing evil towards another, some people say they can see pure evil, but I see hurt. I can think of countless times that people who have hurt me were doing so because they themselves were in such pain. And though the teaching of Christ to love our enemies is often in my experience much easier in theory than in practice, my knowing why they are hurting me makes it much easier to forgive. Forgiving those who hurt us or who are hurting us does definitely not mean that we have to suffer at their expense, it simply means to me that we set our best example by not only turning the other cheek, but by responding to hate with love. I believe that all those who hurt us are hurting inside; and I think that they pass it on from person to person, from soul to soul, one by one. And as Jesus knew, only unconditional love, which includes forgiveness, can shatter that chain forever.
I was able to forgive the “psychic” who stole thousands from me years ago while promising she had a direct line to God and could bring my relationship back together with the woman who had left me. I was able to forgive the fundamentalists who through their reawakening my belief in a monstrous version of God who despised me just because of my sexuality and open heart and caused me to end up in psychotherapy. And I forgave a woman whom I was in a relationship with who broke my heart over and over again, for no other reason than I knew that it was the loving thing to do, and that her sole reason for hurting people was the pain she herself was enduring. I have forgiven these people, and interestingly enough, as I forgave, blessings entered my own life. I found a church and other Christians who were accepting of my being bisexual, polyfidelitous, and open minded. I found a new sense of peace about my own personal relationship with God. And being able to feel love for people who not only were not feeling love for me but who were openly expressing their dislike of me made me feel closer to God than ever before.
More recently, I have had people to forgive. I was recently run off of a bisexual men’s list when I expressed my view about being honest with one’s spouse or partner about their bisexuality, and especially when they were dishonestly engaging in intimacy, often not safely, outside of their established marriage or relationship. I told them that there is no way I would be involved with another person unless I had the full consent of my wife, and if they had a wife or partner, that person’s consensual consent as well. The consensus was that I was outcast for being honest about my bisexuality and my need for a partner of both genders, instead of pledging total fidelity to one and going behind their back. In my honesty with my partners, I was a “threat to the bisexual male community” and that particular group’s desire to remain closeted and have secret anonymous encounters. But I had to recall that these men are suffering, suffering from a homophobic society, and homophobia begets the biphobia that is forcing them into a closet. All I can do is pray that they might have the courage to be honest about who they are and that they could have total acceptance and love when they do come out to their wives or partners. I too had to pretend to be heterosexual and totally monogamous and deny my own same sex desires for many years. And I can understand the pain they feel, so it is easy to forgive them as they see someone who has found acceptance, when they themselves believe it too good to be true. Some people in the bi community or the polyamory crowd cannot deal with my belief in God and Jesus. But I try to express that without my faith in God, none of the freedoms I have would ever have been possible at all. Recently I had a woman attempt to sue me for thousands that I do not have, based on a false injury claim from an accident years ago, and someone asked me if I wanted them to pray for me regarding the situation. I asked them to pray for this woman suing me, that she would receive happiness and joy and blessings in her life. To be doing such a thing to me and trying to get money where I did not cause the injury she claimed, she is hurting, so she needs prayers and love more than I do.
However misguided, there are those Christians who share our love for God but who consider the LGBT community as an enemy of our Lord. We, who despite their insisting God hates us, and will curse us keep on loving God with all the faith we have, and that to me is the best thing we can do rather than retaliate and judging them as the sinner because of their judgment of us. Remember that they too are in so much pain. Many of the Christians who are judging us have sincere faith in a God that is harsh, rigid, and punitive. Many of them may see us, as well as heterosexuals who have made peace with their natural sexuality, and made peace with God about it, as the enemy. They are perhaps jealous that we have learned to see that when expressed with caring and love sexuality is a gift meant for us all to enjoy. They may be jealous that our faith combined with knowledge revealed through psychology, biology, and science that God has used to help illuminate our hearts by illuminating the dark corners of fear in our minds, has proven that the so-called “unnatural” things they persecute us for are some of the most natural things there are. Some of these LGBT and sexuality negative Christians are living a life of terror in the face of a God that they falsely fear will punish them for their natural feelings. I feel that we need to remember how much these people who pass the hurt they feel form their terror of a punitive conditionally loving God on to us need our unconditional love, and let Christ work through our hearts to respond to hate with love. It is often to me only our fearful perception that makes them an enemy to us. If we can do as Emmet Fox once recommended and “see the Christ in them” instead of the fear they are projecting onto us, I think we may see that their fears, needs, and joys are not to far off from our own. Or maybe it’s all in the perception. I think there really ARE no enemies, but God gives us strength, if we ask, to have the patience, unconditional love, and enough “loaves and fishes” (which is what I call the abundance of blessings such as time, patience and resources God gives us to use to help others) to respond to our “enemies” with the love that Jesus would. Do I think Jesus would cast Fred Phelps, Trent Lott, or Dr. Laura into hell? No, I know He’d give them a big hug and when they got one look at the love of God in His eyes all their hateful thoughts would melt away to nothing.
As a polyfidelitous bisexual man who is free in his sexuality I face hate from well, sometimes, just about everyone. But just because I, and others like me, choose to have one partner of each gender, does not make us any less Christian or a sinner. It is just who we are, and even though others and I may have different lives and ways of expressing our sexuality, it does not make us love God or others any less; though we strive to do all we do with honesty, integrity, and love for all others.
In the final analysis, I still hold firm that the only way to end evil is to break the chain of evil, and the only way we do that is by forgiving, even when it hurts, especially those who hurt us for they have been hurt. They need a gift from us, the gift of knowing that there is a God of Unconditional Love that will be there for them too, a God who is there for us to Love, embrace, and rely upon for hope rather than a tyrant to be feared. And who better to give them that gift than those of us who are LGBT and who know God Loves us just as we are, we who can live by the example Jesus set of rising above the “us versus them, everyone for themselves, and whoever dies with the most toys wins” mentality so prevalent in today’s world that Jesus so gloriously rose above when He returned love for hate, exemplifying God’s Love for us all. I know it’s a lot easier to love our enemies in theory than in practice, but anything is possible with faith and Jesus and the Holy Spirit within us giving us strength.
So the next time someone who you see as an enemy does or says something to hurt you, pray for God to send love, blessings, and joy into their lives, or tell them that God Loves them as you give them a smile. Those blessings have a funny way of coming back to you too.
And I think it’s just what Jesus would do.
John Campbell is a native of Alabama.