Apologizing to my gay neighbors

Love has brought me to an impossible place. This is the place where–through the cracks in the hardened asphalt of my heart–healing is breaking out. It is a place of weeping and contrition, a place of apologies, a place of not looking away from the poor and of examining the ways I’ve caused harm instead of healing.

Last week, I went to my gay neighbors and I wept. I requested their forgiveness for the ways I’d hurt them.

It was an apology three years in the making. I caused the hurt. I threw the first stone. I supported Prop 8 and everyone in my neighborhood knew it. I had my yard sign, my talking points, my righteous anger.

My “righteous” anger hurt, alienated and divided my neighbors.

I caused harm.

I came to regret voting yes on Prop 8. I began to see the ways I’ve contributed to an oxymoronic Christian culture that says God loves us and hates us simultaneously. When I have a split-personality view of how God loves, then I have a split-personality view of how TO love.

I don’t know how others do it, but I simply cannot love and hate at the same time. So, I started choosing love. Not in some abstract way, but in concrete, tangible demonstrations of love. I started showing love–in small ways.

You know, little things like smiling, stopping to chat while walking my dog, friendly waves when I passed. I let my guard down. I stopped acting from a place of fear and defensiveness. I opened myself.

It took some time–almost three years of quiet, little gestures of love. To my shame, I had done more damage than I imagined.

Last week, the time was finally right. I was walking my dog Darby (a dog, incidentally, has taught me more about God’s love than a bazillion sermons) and stopped to chat. My gay neighbors are expecting a baby and we talked about baby stuff for awhile. And then…I just said it. I said I needed to ask their forgiveness.

And I started weeping. I no longer need to appear Strong And Right. Love has freed me to let others see my vulnerability. I apologized for hurting them and asked them to forgive me.

They forgave me.

They embraced me.

Love won.

Lastly, here’s a comment from one of my regular readers–Scott Morizot, a Christian whose compassion has inspired me so much in recent years. I think his perspective from yesterday’s post on “True Tolerance” was profound:

I will note that Christians are not called to tolerate others. (I mean actual tolerance, not the newspeak “true tolerance” in the posted video.) We are commanded instead to love.

I can tolerate another politely from across the room with a tip of my metaphorical hat. I can have my sphere and they have theirs. I might engage their views and ideas, but safely — from a distance.

Love, on the other hand, demands much more. In order to love someone who comes into my life, I have to let our separate little spheres collapse. I have to enter their reality at least enough to know them well enough to begin to understand what I could possibly do that would truly be for their good.

There might be little I can do at a given point in time or there might be much, but I have to actually do it or I have not loved that person. It might be that all I’m able to do is sit silently and offer the one in pain my presence. Being present is not a small thing and is sometimes the appropriate action. But love can demand much more, up to and including our lives, as even a cursory review of Christian history reveals.

Love is a much, much harder and messier thing than tolerance. But if you’re not able to truly love the other just yet, tolerance can at least be a start. –Scott Morizot

  • http://www.emergingmummy.com Sarah@EmergingMummy

    Oh, Elizabeth. I’m weeping. Thank you. Thank you for your heart, for your repentance. Thank you for having the guts to say sorry. Thank you for mending some small part of the divide between us all. And thank you for writing about it so openly, so honestly, so lovingly. Love you, sister!

  • Adam

    Hey E, You are awesome. One thing has stuck with me personally over the years. It was something that one of my pastors said about being gay. To paraphrase “Homosexuality has been vilified in our society far past what the bible says about it, I mean, it didn’t even make the top ten.” So, cheers to you, for loving your neighbor as yourself.

  • http://keepbabbling.blogspot.com Jessica @ Faith Permeating Life

    You are awesome. I am so happy to see what love has done in your life. I recently wrote about how there are many ways to be a Christian, but I’ve found the simplest way is to be centered on love. It makes it much easier to see what is the “right” and “wrong” course of action. I love seeing that other people are living this out. God bless you!

  • http://wifeytini.blogspot.com sarah

    that is wonderful you are learning to love your neighbor in such an all-encompassing way. I am so thrilled for you and I hope I have as much bravery someday. I do not think, however, that voting “yes” on prop 8 is tantamount to hatred. Your anger may have caused harm, and if you handled the issue insensitively and caused division, then I think you are right to apologize. Would you have apologized had they been unaware how you voted? just curious.

    • http://moss-place.stblogs.org Peony Moss

      Concur. You can show kindness and love to your gay neighbors and still vote “yes” on Prop 8.

  • http://campfire-song.com Lindsey

    “Righteous anger” doesn’t really get us anything. I’m just now at the point in my life of realizing that. There’s definitely a place for principles and my family adheres to the ones it believes in. When I start to feel judgmental and better, I remind myself that Jesus didn’t spend his time with the “righteous” people.
    Chopping people off at the knees because they don’t do what God wants isn’t going to make them do what God wants.
    You are big for doing this.

  • http://moonchild11.wordpress.com Sarah Moon

    beautiful. Just beautiful. tears :) I love it when love wins.

  • Mark S.

    Wow…just wow! You rock!

  • http://amandamagee.com Amanda

    My grandfather was a theologian and he always answered me plainly. When I asked about homosexuality he said that his belief had always been that to preach in love was to preach in love, not one kind of love over another. It always confused me when people used religion as a rationale for being against gay marriage etc.

    This was a beautiful coming-to-new-clarity post. Thank you for sharing it. ANd for allowing your heart to grow.

  • http://downtoearthwomen.blogspot.com Tracey

    I really hate that word, “tolerance.” Who really just wants to be merely tolerated? How about valued and appreciated and validated for our ideas, thoughts and insights as well as good deeds?

    I do not agree with homosexuality being an acceptable lifestyle and I will not pretend that I do, however, neither am I inclined to mistreat someone under the guise that my sin is better than theirs. If that were the case, then my being divorced and remarried I am sure I am destined for hell as quick as anyone else. I sure don’t have the corner on what marriage is supposed to look like and haven’t lived it myself, despite my best efforts.

    The God we serve is about grace and the laws we were given is mostly about our inability to follow them….to show that we are in NEED of grace because try as we may, we just can’t follow the rules….simple and forthright as they may be. We all fall short.

    Maybe because of that, some rules were meant to be broken.

    • amber v.

      I couldn’t have said it better, Tracey.

    • http://www.mustardseedyear.com Jason

      “I do not agree with homosexuality being an acceptable lifestyle and I will not pretend that I do, however, neither am I inclined to mistreat someone under the guise that my sin is better than theirs.”

      I hear you on that. I get tired of the people who equate disagreement with homosexuality being an acceptable lifestyle with “hate.” It’s no different than any other sin and therefore no different when it comes to grace.

      Why some people think you can’t disagree with someone’s life choices and still show them love never ceases to amaze me.

      • http://faithandfood.morizot.net/ Scott Morizot

        Disagree all you want, but expressing that opinion?

        As a mental exercise, imagine that it was your family that a large group of people decided was “wrong” and should be outlawed. Imagine they gathered together to vote for laws designed to marginalize and attack it.

        How would you perceive their actions? How would you explain it to your children (if you had children)? How would your children feel and how would that make you feel? They will hear about it and very little upsets the well-being of a child as much as threats to the family that stands as the rock in the center of their reality.

        I’ve given up trying to figure out what Christianity should or shouldn’t believe or teach about the modern version of gay families. It doesn’t seem to be ideal, but it’s not the same sort of thing that existed in the ancient world. Christianity has a long history of making room for the less than ideal. And ultimately I’m not the judge. I’m commanded to love and telling people their family is evil and should be torn apart doesn’t seem to me to benefit anyone. I don’t see how it actively wills the good for any of those in that family. Given that, I see no value in expressing that particular judgment in the public arena.

        There is precedent, I think, for that approach. What was Jesus’ opinion of the family arrangement of the woman at the well? What was his opinion of the situation of the woman caught in adultery? (The list goes on.) The correct answer is that we don’t know. He was fully human and the only one truly faithful to God, so I’m sure he had an opinion. But he does not express it.

        That’s not to say that Jesus was shy about expressing judgments and opinions. Since as Christians we believe he was fully divine as well (and a prophetic role to boot), he certainly had the authority we lack to pronounce judgments. But go back, read the gospels, and see — really see — where and to whom he expressed those opinions and where he didn’t.

        • HippieGramma

          If God was so concerned about what families looked like, He would have called special attention to all the uber-spiritual nuclear families in biblical times and all the buckets of extra blessings He unloaded upon them.

          Instead we have Abraham and his open marriage, David and his mistress, lots of polygamy and love triangles, and an unwed pregnant teenager named — oh yeah — Mary.

          Did you catch that? Instead of picking a godly, righteous, Duggar-esque family, thereby putting his holy stamp of approval on traditional marriage and family, the Lord in the flesh chose to be borne by a knocked-up little peasant girl. Who later married her boyfriend and gave Jesus a stepdad and a big blended family.

          Heck, let’s face it… nuclear family dynamics was never the strong point of his creation. Adam and Eve — the first Focus on the Family prototypes! — were a disastrous example of both marital relations AND parenting skills, if Cain and Abel’s relationship is any example of the latter.

          We can cherry-pick individual verses all we want, but the Bible as a whole does not support our modern fascination and fixation on the nuclear family. The important thing is always our hearts, and our desire to seek Him, and the knowledge that He always seeks us. NO MATTER WHO AND WHERE WE ARE.

          Clearly God realized real life and relationships are too complicated to fit in a little box. How beautiful could life be if the church would figure it out too?

          • brooke

            I think the Bible is really clear on what the standards are, but also really clear that no one meets the standard but Christ. And through Jesus, we have more forgiveness and grace and love than we could imagine. We aren’t to look at the sins in the Bible as condoning our own.

          • Carrie

            God does not bless sin, but God has great mercy for repentant sinful people. The pattern in the bible is clear on this. Jesus chose Mary, a virgin, someone who was without sin to be His mother. And then He gave her to us when He was on the cross to be our mother as well. This speaks volumes as to what examples He sets before our eyes… Who He wants us to imitate and what He sees as Holy. Your decription of her as a “knocked up teenager” is offensive.

          • Robyn

            David just had one mistress, right–Bathsheba?? And, he was judged for his sin, I think the Bible says. Their first child died. And David grieved greatly. Why the Bible shows God allowing more than one wife, I don’t know, But it looks like God did not approve of what Abraham and Sarah did in allowing Abraham to produce a child with Hagar (hope I am getting all the names right). From my past study it looks like God took care of Hagar and her child,too, but it doesn’t look like that was God’s original plan. I’ve also read and have heard people teach that David’s family was a little bit of a mess, and it looks like there were consequences there in his family as well. Anything that is sin probably has consequences. But, that applies to all of us, and I guess that’s why we all suffer so.

          • Robyn

            I think the Bible in the New Testament does address the family. I know the foundation is always supposed to be love, but I remember reading that Husbands should love their wives as Christ loves the church and wives should submit to their husbands. I think I have also read that children should obey their parents, and that parents should not exasperate their children. I have read that adultery is wrong, that fornication is wrong. I have read that to have sin even your mind (lust) is wrong. I have read that men being with men and women being with women is wrong. It is addressed in the Bible. Maybe we all don’t understand exactly what it all means, but it all is mentioned. I have read even recently about ancient/other cultures where it was acceptable for men to be with boys–gross!!!!! (I think it is wrong for heterosexual people to be with children as well) I think this was done with the Greeks?? I just read about it in an asian culture. It was acceptable for a man to have a boy, but when the boy came of age the relationship had to end—once again, gross!!! In my lifetime I have heard of the Man/Boy Love Association here in America. MBLA, or NAMBLA?? Whatever it was it sickened me!! I guess the “modern day homosexuality” refers to two consenting adults???, which in my mind is different than involving a child, but even still the Bible still makes reference to Men not being with Men and Women not being with Women in a physical and sexual way. At least that’s what I read, I think. I do believe we live in a fallen world and there are things that people might be born with that may affect one’s sexual identity–chromasonal mishaps, etc. I won’t go into detail, but I can see how many of things would be really confusing. I think I see where Elizabeth is coming from, and love is most important, but even with that, there are still things as a Christian I see the Bible outlining as right and wrong. How my life as a Christian is supposed to mesh and fit in with the country/nation I live in I think I am just now starting to understand. I don’t really think America is a “Christian Nation”. I don’t think that takes affect until He returns (if that is really what is supposed to happen). So, I guess as a Christian, what I’m taught in the Bible and the rules of the land where I live will probably not ever match up until He comes back and reigns on earth??

          • Robyn

            me again, I did just want to add that I agree that God isn’t looking for perfection. It looks from the Bible that he likes to take the average individual and use them!! It is great that he will come to and accept anyone–tax collectors, prostitutes, adulterous women, etc. I just think and am glad that He wants to heal and restore us and and give us a better life with Him than what we could have on our own……:)

          • HippieGramma

            Carrie, which do you think the people of the day saw at the time… the future Holy Mother, or an unwed pregnant teenager? Sorry, but I don’t believe regular townsfolk were putting all their pregnant teens on a pedestal in case a Virgin Birth was imminent; I think, just like in our time, she probably faced some discrimination and exclusion (which makes what she did even more sacrificial and beautiful, in my opinion).

            God had to know how she would be perceived, and yet it was all part of His divine plan… why? I don’t think there are too many people more looked down upon than poor pregnant teens; what a blessing, at such a difficult time, for them to see that the Holy Mother herself understands exactly what they are going through!

            Another example: Soon after my divorce, my sons and I listened to a Father’s Day sermon by a wonderful pastor, married for decades, who pointed out that Jesus had a stepfather, and was raised in a blended family. In all my years in church, I had never realized this! My sons nearly wept… they were not on the fringes of Christian society… Jesus himself had been there and knew how they felt! Those boys walked out of that church with their heads held a little higher, a smile on their faces, for the first time in a long while.

            We in the church worry so much more about pointing out sin than showing love even in the FACE of sin. We can’t change others’ behavior, and are not even called to do so; God does that. He changes hearts. The examples we are given in the Bible, the examples of Jesus himself, show no matter how difficult the sin or circumstance, we are called to love.

        • http://musings--aloud.blogspot.com Leah

          Scott, you are always so on point!

        • Robyn

          Either the woman at the well or the one caught in adultery (or were they the same?). It sounds as if Jesus forgave her, but then he told her to “go and sin no more”. I have been thinking more lately about how Jesus healed and restored people–sight, lame bodies, etc. I think God is very ready to forgive anyone, but then I think He wants to heal and restore us to be able to go and live a better life with/through Him. As far as homosexuality goes, I don’t recall reading about any stories about it in the Bible, so I don’t really know what Jesus would do?? The issue seems to be addressed as what not to do in the Old and New Testaments, but as far as my reading has gone in the Bible, it really doesn’t seem to be addressed specifically by Jesus. As far as minority groups go, what if the minority group is wrong?? (I’m not great at politics govt., but I’m still trying to learn) :)

          • HippieGramma

            I believe Jesus addressed all the most important issues in his time on earth. Homosexuality was not among them. Would seem more logical if the church addressed the issues Jesus addressed FIRST, and once we’ve fixed all those, move on to the ones on the periphery.

      • Sarah

        It. Isn’t. A. Choice.

        You make it sound like picking out a wall color.

    • http://faithandfood.morizot.net/ Scott Morizot

      I don’t hate tolerance. When people are unable, for whatever reason, to love, tolerance is infinitely better than the alternative — hate. Anger and hate comes so easily to us. We judge. We make someone the other. And we metaphorically or literally try to destroy them. Love, on the other hand, is very hard and often quite costly. Tolerance is a place between the two. It’s a way of acknowledging that I can’t embrace you and our interactions need to be conducted at a safe distance, but I’m willing to let you have your beliefs and your life.

      Is tolerance some lofty goal or moral achievement? No. But it’s better than constantly warring against the other.

  • http://www.ayoungmomsmusings.blogspot.com Melissa@Permission to Live

    I LOVE scott’s comment. Love and Acceptance is so much more than mere tolerance. Thank you for putting yourself out there and showing love, you have no idea how far that goes. I don’t know if you’ve seen this, but it made me cry.

  • http://www.joyinthisjourney.com Joy

    This, my dearest EE, is one of many reasons why I love you.

  • Becca

    Beautiful.

  • http://pinkdaisyjane.com Heatherly

    Thank you.

  • susan

    How do I answer my children when they ask how it is possible that two women are expecting a baby….seriously…I can love and accept but how and why should I be expected to place this idea in my kids lap like it is no big deal…

    • Beth

      Susan,

      How do you respond to your children when a single mother is expecting a child? How do you tell them about divorce and separation? How do you tell them about the millions orphans in the world or the thousands in foster care in the US?

      Sometimes babies do not come by the ideal way we envision they should come but they are babies and we love and welcome them.

    • http://www.elizabethesther.com elizabeth

      How do you answer your children? Truthfully. Simply. :)

      I am a firm believer that ALL life is sacred. A new life should ALWAYS be celebrated no matter which life circumstance he/she is born into.

      • http://leannesmusings.wordpress.org Leanne

        And you know? I think that they’ll be satisfied that answer. I had a good friend growing up who was the daughter of a single mom. I asked my mom one day if her (my friend’s) parents were divorced. She replied that no, her mom had never been married. I shrugged, said, oh, okay, and went on with my day. I think I assumed that she was adopted :) . But I look back at my mom’s simple, truthful answer and am truly grateful for it. There was no, “and here mom was a SINNER because she had sex outside of marriage, and God is not happy with her,” or whatever else she could have said. Elizabeth, you are absolutely right – life is life. Period. No matter how a child makes his or her way into the world – whether to a married heterosexual couple, a single mom, a gay couple, a petri dish…that life is a precious creation of God and should be treated as nothing less. Okay…I went off on a tangent a little bit…one of my soapboxes :) .

    • http://faithandfood.morizot.net/ Scott Morizot

      As a rule, I’ve found that kids are pretty good at handling the truth — usually much better than we expect. It’s other things that tend to twist them up.

    • Acton

      When we’re little, EVERYTHING in the world has to be introduced to us. Everything is a new concept. Kids don’t naturally feel upset or traumatized by same-sex couples any more than by heterosexual couples. Chances are your kids will only feel upset by it if they see adults they love and trust modeling that same attitude. Your children will definitely encounter many different lifestyles and types of people throughout their lives, so better to teach them at an early age to have an attitude of love and caring.

      • susan

        But, it does upset me to two grooms on a wedding cake…it really does upset me…i was in san fran recently and it was very upsetting…i dont think it is something everyone can get used to

        • Sarah

          Susan, you’re just going to have to get over it. It’s not something to be upset about, it’s love and you don’t get it.

          • susan

            I’ll “get over it” as soon as the Church does

        • http://musings--aloud.blogspot.com Leah

          Well, it upsets ME to hear you say that {or see you write that}, but I’m in no place to deny your right to express that feeling of being upset, just like you’re in no place to deny people the right to love who they love. Sorry, but the fact that it “upsets you” is really of no consequence when it comes to people’s love choices.

          • susan

            It upsets a lot of people. I know there is this attitude that people will eventually get used to the idea of gay marriage and it will become commonplace and everyone will come to be fine with it….I don’t buy it. I will “get over it” as soon as the Church does.

    • Sarah

      It’s not the problem of gay people that you can’t talk to your kids. It’s yours. Why should you be expected to? Um…because you’re their mother?

      And kids are remarkably more open minded than adults when it comes to issues like this. It’s that total lack of indoctrination they come with.

      Homophobia is learned and taught but it can also be unlearned it you TALK TO YOUR CHILDREN honestly and with love.

  • Allison

    You are seriously awesome and I love this post. Amazing. Loving. Humble. Powerful. Wow.

  • Kristy

    Everybody is ‘hung up’ on tolerance…..but what happened to plain ole respect. You don’t have to agree with someone’s choices but you should still respect them as people.

  • http://faithandfood.morizot.net/ Scott Morizot

    Way to go with your neighbors, EE. Celebrating a new life and a growing family shouldn’t be hard, but we often make it hard. It’s hard to try to make things right when you’ve inflicted pain on another. I know that all too well myself. But love truly is its own reward.

    Peace.

  • susan

    I feel like I can still speak of divorce and single motherhood as less than ideal but it becomes bigoted to say that Same sex marriage is less than ideal…we have family members who are divorced and they are sensative to the kids understanding of this…they to do celebrate it….as it stands now are we not being asked to celebrate the gay lifestyle?

    • HippieGramma

      I hope someday we can stop marginalizing children and families by not constantly reminding them how they are not the “ideal.”

    • KatR

      So what would you have Elizabeth do, exactly? Glare angrily at her gay neighbors? Shun their baby? What does it look like to not “celebrate the gay lifestyle”?

    • http://faithandfood.morizot.net/ Scott Morizot

      I have to echo KatR. It’s not a “lifestyle” in the abstract. It’s two specific people who are, by geography, in her circle of community, who are about to have a baby. The question is not what she believes is the ideal or a “sin” in some distant removed sense. The question is (or should be in a Christian context), what can I do to actively will their good? That’s love, not anything else. And when you put it in those terms, it seems to me the answer becomes clear.

      I’m willing to accept, even as late in my formation as I came to Christianity, that there is something less than ideal in their relationship. But heck, just given that it’s my third marriage, there’s almost certainly something “less than ideal” in my own marriage. And I’m utterly “unrepentant” about it. But that abstract conception has relatively little to do with whether or not I’m acting in love toward the other.

    • http://leannesmusings.wordpress.org Leanne

      I think that reaching out and showing God’s love to one’s neighbors is not celebrating the “gay lifestyle” [whatever that is, because gay people - as well as straight - live a variety of lifestyles!], any more than Jesus’ spending time with tax collectors and sinners was celebrating their lifestyles. The Bible says that it is God’s kindness that leads us to repentance. If we are saved through His kindness and His grace, who are we to extend anything less to our neighbor? I am a fan of doing my job – letting my light shine, loving my neighbor as myself, and sharing God’s love with others – and letting the Holy Spirit do the convicting of sin. He does His job so much better than we could, anyway!

      • susan

        When I said celebrating I meant that we are now asked to accept gay marriage as just the same as traditional marriage. If you say that homosexuality is less than ideal then why would you agree to gay marriage…I mean what was actually wrong with EE’s voting yes on Prop 8? Are we really not entitled to that opinion? Where are the groups shouting from the rooftops that divorce is awesome or that single motherhood is the super fun…I mean if something is a sin why do we elevate it? We can sin and ask for forgiveness and try to do better…I just dont get it.

        • joy

          I think one way that you could look at it is that there is civil marriage and there is religious marriage. Religions that feel that gay people should not marry need not perform ceremonies. But because the state only recognizes civil marriages for purposes of the benefits and obligations of marriage in secular society, it is fundamentally unjust to deny civil marriage to gay people. Churches can do what they like, but city hall should be open to all.

          • http://www.shackbible.com shackbible

            Joy, I think you touched on the crux of the matter. The state cannot define marriage any more than it can define bar mitzvah.

          • http://faithandfood.morizot.net/ Scott Morizot

            If it’s of any interest, the sacrament of marriage was actually a relatively late developing Christian sacrament. In the first centuries, the couple would be married according to Roman (within the empire) civil law, same as the pagans. They would then “sanctify” that marriage by coming to the church and taking communion together. There is a confusion today between the civil marriage which confers certain legal rights and the sacramental marriage.

  • KA

    Susan,

    Among all of our friends and family are people whose choices we would not choose for ourselves, along a wide range of topics and issues. You don’t need to celebrate gay marriage any more than I need to celebrate the fact that my neighbors let their kids stay up later than I would. But not celebrating something is not the same as condemning it–in public or in your heart.

    When you see two women having a baby, tell your children that you hope the women love each other, the way you hope any parents love each other. And then don’t make a big thing of it. To use a terrible analogy, my neighbors might get a car that I think is really impractical or a bad choice. But that doesn’t make it necessary for me to tell my children that my neighbors are wrong in their choice of cars.

    Always lead with love and compassion. And if you’re tempted to veer from the narrow path of love and compassion, remember where most temptations are born.

    * Please note that all children referenced in this comment (except yours) are non-existent at the moment. ;-)

    • susan

      I had a bagger at the grocery store tell my five year old that she and her wife were going to flip a coin to see who “has” to carry their baby if they ever want one…I am sorry but my heart broke at the look on my little girls face..I was not feeling loving or compassionate for that woman…I was pissed…I can’t square this one and I am sad

      • http://faithandfood.morizot.net/ Scott Morizot

        Five year olds are tougher and more resilient than we often give them credit for being. Tell you daughter the truth in a factual way, neither endorsing nor condemning. Odds are she’ll do just fine. What you saw in her face (just judging from my own kids when they were that age) was probably confusion. And confusion is easily cured. With a five year old that’s normally all that’s required.

        Was the bagger ‘oversharing’? Probably. But that’s our modern culture. It’s hardly true only of ‘gays’. It’s pretty much true across the board.

        • Matthew F

          Just because a child might be tougher than we think does not mean that we should test it to see how far it goes or be okay with those that do. My horse got an enormous gash about a week after we got him. I could have put a quarter an inch deep into his chest muscle broadside. The vet told he would be fine because horses are tougher than I though. It does not mean that I was eager to see if he could heal from an even worse injury.

          • susan

            true

          • http://musings--aloud.blogspot.com Leah

            I fail to see how a horse receiving an enormous gash in its side is analogous to a 5 year-old learning that sometimes girls love other girls & sometimes guys love other guys.

          • Matthew F

            It doesn’t. It has to do with the resilience if a child when exposed to things that can take their logical line of questioning down a path that they are cognitively not ready to go and a parent’s desire to not willingly put them on that path.

      • KA

        That didn’t have anything to do with the woman’s sexual orientation, though. That was just her attitude toward children. I’ve heard plenty of straight women say really awful things about children and motherhood, too. In that case it would be fine to tell your daughter how much most parents love and cherish their children. It would be upsetting for any child to hear any person talk badly or dismissively about kids, so I don’t blame you for being upset. Just try to separate the woman’s attitude from her sexual orientation.

        I know gay parents who feel the sun rises and sets on their children. I know same-sex couples where the women are both eager to experience the miracle of motherhood.

        I’m sorry you’re sad about it. I hope you find some peace with the issue.

        • susan

          It had to do with a woman talking to my kid about her “wife” and the assumption that this arrangement is just as common place as a marriage…she saw that I have a huge family and she was trying to get under my skin…she made assumptions about me and how I would react. BTW…I didnt react all. Just smiled and thanked her for bagging.

          • Katy-Anne

            So you’re a mind-reader, too, Susan? You KNOW with 100% surety that that woman said that just to get under your skin? No, you don’t. Although it is possible that she could tell that you were a judgmental, narrow-minded person. I really don’t agree with homosexuality either, but I have no problem with my 4 year old son learning about some kids having two mommies or two daddies etc in school because, well, some people DO. My son needs to know that they are a family just like we are a family and that you don’t have to like what someone is doing to make that true.

            In fact I teach my children about it very early, because I don’t want them judging other people as “abnormal” or whatever. I want them to know these things, and I want them to find out from me. And, because they are so young, when I tell them these things I don’t tell them that “mommy and daddy think that is wrong” or whatever.

  • Felisha

    This is exactly what I’ve been trying to say for some time but much, much clearer! Thank you for sharing your heart and letting it touch so many others. Love, it’s all love. :)

  • http://faithandfood.morizot.net/ Scott Morizot

    There is something incredibly freeing in the Christian understanding that we are not responsible for ultimate judgments. I think a lot of modern Christian expressions totally miss that aspect, but it seems pretty central to me.

    We are not to condemn. We are not to make the sorts of judgments we naturally make all the time. We do have a responsibility to discern evil and often to act in the face of evil, but we are never the judge of other people.

    What is our role? We are to love. We are to discern what action would be for the good of the other (which is not necessarily what they believe they want us to do — think of an intervention with an addict) and out of love we are to take that action. By doing that, we demonstrate our love of God. And we are to maintain the traditions of worship.

    That’s really it. We aren’t charged to set the world to rights. We aren’t the ultimate judge. We don’t have to see the “big picture”. As hard as it is for us, we just have to love. And leave the rest to God.

    Even that is hard for us to do, but it’s something we actually can do. And there’s much to be said for that.

  • HippieGramma

    EE, that was courageous and amazing.

  • susan

    Scott, I know my kids will grow up some day and they will know all the things of the world. I would never tell a five year old that women “marry” each other. I would never tell her the ways in which women have babies together and I would never presume she was tough enough or resilient enough to hear any of this. I just think there has to be line between what is ok for adults and whats ok for kids. If I did not have kids I could have talked easily to that bagger and let her overshare all she wanted. I am not a jerk, I am not a bigot, I am a mother. To be perfectly honest, I don’t want my kid to know about divorce or single motherhood or homosexuality until I have no other choice. For now, she can have 5 year old worries.

    • http://faithandfood.morizot.net/ Scott Morizot

      I guess I have a jaundiced view of what constitutes “five year old worries”. Of course, by the time I was five, I was “worrying” about things a lot more serious than whether or not two women or two men could have a baby.

      There are times I do resent the way people talk about young children. On the other hand, I also get it. I haven’t wanted my kids to share my experience after all.

      My youngest is almost 15. My oldest turns 30 in a few months. Even my granddaughter is older than your five year old. I understand wanting to shield our kids. I really do. But the truth is we can’t. And when reality is staring them in the face, talk to them about it and try not to make it a big deal.

    • Katy-Anne

      Why would your five year old have “worries” over this though? My four year old knows that some of the kids he knows only have a mommy, or only a daddy, or two mommies, etc, and it isn’t a “worry” for him. What he knows is that individual families are different. Why is that a bad thing? And why would that make him “worry”?

      • susan

        You say you don’t agree with homosexuality…what does that really mean? So you tell your kids that some kids have two mommies and just leave it like that when you yourself say you have a problem with it.

  • Carrie

    As a Catholic, the Church teaches me that same-sex marriage is wrong. Admonishing the sinner is one of the Spiritual Works of Mercy, but it must be done with much love. Not done out of a self-righteous pride of the heart… It is an act of mercy because out of love you are trying to help that person have a life with Christ… Sin separates us from that life, and keeps us from the happiness that God truly wants for us. So I don’t believe that in order to love the sinner you have to accept the sin. I don’t pretend to have any answers as to how to do this when you have gay neighbors. Honestly, I would just be friendly and probably not talk to them about it because really what do you say? But as a Catholic, I must try and vote for laws that uphold God’s laws. I see that voting against gay marriage IS a Spiritual Work of Mercy in itself. But it can only be seen that way if you believe it is a grave sin as the Church teaches. If you don’t believe it is a sin, then I really don’t know what else to say.

    • susan

      agreed

    • Jack

      \\But as a Catholic, I must try and vote for laws that uphold God’s laws. I see that voting against gay marriage IS a Spiritual Work of Mercy in itself\\

      Carrie, what are you doing to make remarriage for divorced heterosexuals illegal?

      That goes against God’s law, too, according to Jesus.

      • Carrie

        I didn’t know that was on the ballot. Like I said in my comment, if you don’t think that same-sex unions are sinful, then I really don’t have an argument here. I do believe it is a sin, and I believe this because I have a Church I can look to that has been in existence since the time of Christ. Since I believe it is a sin, the problem with state recognition is that it validates it. If something is legal, it must be OK, right? The same thing happened when abortion became legal. As far as heterosexuals getting divorced, the Catholic Church has taken a major stand on this as well. Saint Thomas More actually was beheaded for his stance on divorce and remarriage back in the 1500′s. King Henry VIII wanted a divorce that the Church would not recognize, and so he started his own church because it was not granted. So we have the Church of England!

  • http://somewiseguy.com ThatGuyKC

    About the time I read Blue Like Jazz I realized what a jerky Christian I was. Since then I have tried to make a conscious effort to be anything but stereotypical. When an atheist coworker found out I was a Christian she was actually disappointed because I didn’t fit in the box she’d constructed over the years from negative interactions.

    Scott’s comment is so true. There is a great divide between tolerance and love. Powerful stuff.

  • Lelir1980

    Hello EE,
    I’m a long tome lurker (and agnostic) and wanted just to say that you are a wonderful person.
    I would love to have you as a neighbour :)
    Thank you for having the courage to undergo such incredible spiritual growth and to express it frankly. I really believe this world needs so many more people like you!
    Whishing you and yours all the best
    Elena

  • Feather Wilcox

    Based on what we’re learning in Truth Project, I think Christians should be voting no to gay marriage but we should ALSO be loving gay people who are unbelievers. Same as abortionists – we shouldn’t start legalizing abortion in the name of love; but we should be loving and kind to those who perform abortions or have abortions done. Same with domestic violence – does loving the sinner who is abusing their spouse mean abuse should be legal? Absolutely not.

    While Jesus did indeed love the prostitutes and thieves, He still told them that what they were doing was wrong without being holier-than-thou or condemning. He invited them to His way of life BECAUSE He loved them, not because He had an agenda. Too many Christians today have an agenda, instead of a love for God’s standards and their fellow man.

    ♥f

    • Jack

      \\Based on what we’re learning in Truth Project, I think Christians should be voting no to gay marriage but we should ALSO be loving gay people who are unbelievers.\\

      And what is your attitude towards gay people who are Christians–of which there are many?

      **While Jesus did indeed love the prostitutes and thieves, He still told them that what they were doing was wrong without being holier-than-thou or condemning.**

      And where exactly did Jesus say this to prostitutes and thieves? The woman of John 8 was not a prostitute, neither was St. Photini of John 4.

      Please give book, chapter and verse.

    • HippieGramma

      I’m not trying to pick on you, honest I’m not, but the order of importance in your last phrase seemed telling to me: first “a love for God’s standards,” and then “their fellow man.”

      I think in almost every instance of Christianity gone wrong, we can point to a love of various self-described “God’s standards” OVER love for our fellow man. That’s why we like to quote Paul’s 169 Rules for a Righteous Life at every turn, instead of Jesus’s love love love, the last shall be first.

      It’s much easier to filter out people and groups based on lists of desirable traits and then love the ones who are left than it is to love everybody, forgive seventy times seven, and put ourselves (and our interest, and preferences, and comfort zones) last. The old “What Would Jesus Do?” still works. Would Jesus be campaigning against Prop 8?

      • Matthew F

        Wouldn’t that go with the whole “love the Lord your God with all your .. . ” being the most important commandment followed by “Love your neighbor as yourself”?

        Christians and their standards……sheesh.

  • Emily

    This is beautiful.

    Apologies are HARD, especially when you were so sure you were right.

    -Emily

  • KatR

    I’m supporting national legislation to ban homeschooling in America. It’s about time that honest Americans fight back against Christians who are forcing their warped beliefs on vulnerable children. I think it’s important to make sure that all families conform to my beliefs. This may sound judgemental, but I assure you that I love Christians. I just hate how they think, what they say and how they act. If they won’t change their behavior on their own, then the rest of us have a duty to act. For the children.

    Obviously this is sarcasm. But I’d like those who talk the “loving the sinner hating the sin”BS to think about how they’d feel if they were on the other end of the rhetoric.

    Oh and, by the way, I’m so proud of you, Elizabeth.

    • http://www.elizabethesther.com elizabeth

      Word!

    • Carrie

      KatR:
      Do you think drugs, prostitution, polygamy, or even porn should be legal as well? If not, why don’t you want to love the sinner by supporting the sin?

      • KatR

        Yeah, once someone starts comparing gay people to porn actors and polygamists, my part in the conversation is over.

        • http://faithandfood.morizot.net/ Scott Morizot

          Well, she didn’t bring in pedophiles, at least. I’ve heard that comparison often enough. In church.

      • Sarah

        Do you think making them illegal will actually stop it from happening? It doesn’t, it marginalises people who need help most. You’re pushing them away rather than drawing them in.

        And personally, I find any attempt at comparing the love between two people to the sins you list above to be offensive.

      • Carrie

        KatR:
        You are misunderstanding my point. I am not equating these sins with gay people at all!!! And just so I am clear, I don’t believe that BEING gay is a sin and neither does the Catholic Church. I am REALLY sorry if it came across that way… I should have been more clear! I was merely taking you to task over your comment that to love the sinner and hate the sin is “BS”. Because really if you don’t like the idea that we should love the sinner and hate the sin, there are only so many other options! Either you love the sinner and hate the sin, OR let’s see, -you love the sinner and support the sin- (which was the point I was trying to make!) you love the sinner and love the sin- you hate the sinner and hate the sin ( I think we all agree that this should NEVER be the case!)- or you just love the sin! I think we all agree that regardless of what you feel about the sin, you always love the sinner! I sincerely apologize for being careless with my arguments. I should have anticipated that people might take that in another direction, but since I am alone in my own brain, I didn’t. Truly sorry people!

        • KatR

          Thanks for the clarification.

          That does not change the fact that I can’t stand the phrase “love the sinner, hate the sin.” It drips of condescension, and I don’t see what the point of it is.

          I’m impatient. And selfish. And fat. And if someone came up to me and said “I love you, but I hate that you are impatient and selfish and fat”, my response would be “So do I! Let’s go out for mani/pedis, and then we can braid each other’s hair!”

          I don’t see how someone announcing that they hate the failings of others is supposed to communicate the heart of Jesus.

      • HippieGramma

        More people are involved in and harmed by the sin of gluttony than homosexuality. Should we make that illegal? Excommunicate overweight parishioners? Love them, but exclude them until they hit their ideal weight and are right wtih Christ?

        • http://moss-place.stblogs.org Peony Moss

          No, that’s what the government is for. As usual, the UK is way ahead of us; they are already pulling overweight children out of their families and putting them into foster care.

    • Matthew F

      I would probably support your initiative because most homeschool kids are weird and socially inept. And just to set the record straight, there is not a major religion in the world (except Hindu I think) that endorses or condones acts of homosexuality. It isn’t just those pesky little Christians.

      I still will support a ban on homeschooling in general or strict enforcement of social interaction subsidies.

      • susan

        I’ll take my socially inept weirdos over the fruits of the public school system anyday of the week.

      • Matt F

        Susan,
        I just wrote a huge mildly-chastising response but cannot bring myself to put it up. Your heart is right. I hope we can discuss this point further.

  • http://www.indiatoappleton.blogspot.com Nancy

    I don’t think this discussion should be limited only to loving people who are LGBT, but should include many other groups who are marginalized by many Christians (Muslims, non-Christians, strippers, etc.) If we are the Christ-followers we claim to be, all our interactions with other people should be designed to draw them closer to Him. I am an advocate of being in relationship with those who are far from Christ at the moment, with whoever is in my circle of neighbors, co-workers, etc., partly for the purpose of being the hands and feet of Christ in their lives. What if you are the only Christian someone will ever meet? What impression of Him are they going to get from you?

  • http://caleemlee.com Calee

    This post left me in tears.
    Bravo.

  • http://pmerrill.com/ Paul Merrill

    I sad what Scott said in fewer words:
    http://pmerrill.com/2011/02/love-instead/

    • http://faithandfood.morizot.net/ Scott Morizot

      Almost everybody uses fewer words than me. :-P

      Peace.

  • http://evenonesparrow.blogspot.com rachel – even one sparrow

    Love IS much harder than tolerance, requiring a real vulnerability of self — a real sacrificing of self. Amen to Scott’s insight.

    I feel that I have been pushed to the bounds of how much I can love (and then some) by living in intentional community, and have felt like I can’t grow any more. But God is still pushing me to grow. We have an opportunity to offer a shower and laundry to a homeless man in our church. At first, I shirked away from it because it made me feel uncomfortable. And then came the Holy Spirit rebuke: love is SUPPOSED to be uncomfortable. God did not call us to comfort, but he called us to love. And he commanded us to take care of the poor. When I was saying, “God, I don’t want to open myself up any more,” I heard him say, “Where were you when I came to your door and needed a shower?” And that’s when I realized I had to do it.

  • http://somaticstrength.wordpress.com somaticstrength

    This has become the point I constantly make, but considering the lengths that huge portions of conservative Christianity go to turning a blind eye toward rapists, I have little respect for those who fight against homosexuality as some huge, horrible “sexual sin.” Two consenting people causes nothing but vitriol, but rapists can do whatever they want to whomever they want, and I have yet to meet a Christian who would say they shouldn’t get married, shouldn’t have kids; Christians aren’t protesting in the streets against them; they have a home in churches that the lgbt community does not. They get excuse after excuse after excuse – or just absolute silence – while Christians gasp in horror at the idea that two consenting adults love each other.

    “Love the sinner, hate the sin” is meaningless. Because it’s not possible. There is no way to separate “I respect and validate you and your choices and your being as a person” and “but I think who you are is sending you to hell.”

  • Holly

    THANK YOU! As a bisexual Christian woman, I’ve struggled with both my own sexuality, and with the Church’s views on it. It brings me great joy, and happy tears, to read this. You are a beautiful tribute to the God that created you. I may be just a lowly sinner who cannot possible understand God’s true nature. But I feel pretty safe saying He is proud of you! And people like you will make a huge difference in repairing the divide between the LGBT community and the Church.

  • http://faithandfood.morizot.net/ Scott Morizot

    The comments on this post went away?

  • Anonymous

    I don’t know where they are! I’m trying to find them! Something happened when I imported my comments into Disqus! Ack!

  • http://faithandfood.morizot.net/ Scott Morizot

    So … Disqus ate your comments? :-P

  • Anonymous

    Yes! BLARGH!

  • http://www.facebook.com/donald.b.johnson Donald Byron Johnson

    A believer should  speak or act in love before all else.

  • Patty

    Thank you Elizabeth. 

  • aajensen90

    this is beautiful. And as a gay woman, this article makes my heart so happy :D :D

  • KQ

    bless you!!

  • mary york

    That Morizot quote is my mother.  THank you so much for that.

  • Carrie

    Hi KatR,
    I can see what you are saying. I think it has to be possible to love the sinner and hate the sin  or else “admonish the sinner” would not be a Spiritual Work Of Mercy in the Church. Like I said in a previous comment, this is done out of love for that person though. Love that acknowledges that anyone who is committing a grave sin is separated from God and therfore will never be happy as God wants us to be when we are living in a state of grace. The Catholic Church teaches that homosexual acts are grave sins. I don’t know what people believe on this blog, but I am coming at it from the Churches perspective. I am a convert, and one of the reasons I converted was the fact that I no longer have to wrestle with issues such as this because I have a Church that acts as a guide in such matters.  What I find though, is whenever I research the reasons why the Church teaches something, I always find wisdom. You said you would never point out if someone was impatient, selfish, and fat, but the difference is being impatient, selfish, and fat aren’t normally serious sins that can separate us from God’s Grace. I don’t believe though that it is just anyone’s place to “admonish the sinner”. I think it is the responsibility of a relative or close friend… Someone who the sinner knows loves them. I think the person who does otherwise will really look nasty like you imagine. It is true. But say I had gay neighbors and they asked me what I thought of same-sex marriage, I think I would have the obligation to tell them what the Church teaches about it. But that is only if I was asked. It would be the same if I had a daughter that suddenly announced that she was moving in with her boyfriend. This would be considered a serious sin as well. Admonishing the sinner here WOULD be my responsibility as a parent. But the love would always be there. I know it’s tricky. Life is always complicated and never easy, but to say you can never admonish a sinner because then you wouldn’t be truly loving them isn’t true.

  • Carrie

    Hi Sarah,

    No, making something illegal will not stop something from happening, but as a Catholic I think I have the obligation to vote for laws that uphold Church teaching. The fact that two people love each other is irrelevant when it comes to serious sin. If I had a daughter who was living with her boyfriend, she would probably say, “Mom! But we REALLY love each other!” She still would be disobeying God.

  • Tom

    I agree God accepts anyone who will come to Him. He desparately wants to save us from our sins.  He is not some ecclesiastical mystic who wants to leave us where we are, self-satisfied that  being gay is something to be proud of.  I finally overcame my self-hate for being gay, but that doesn’t  change the fact that God has a better way than to  turm hid creati0n upside down with blessing same-sex marriage.
    Proposition 8 was  not an anti-gay initiative, but a  defense of  marriage as an intitution long held as the bedrock of a society.
        I’ll be the first to concede that heterosexuals have done a miserable job upholding the values of marriage, but I don’t see that sanctioning same-sex marriage is the answer.
        To broadbrush everyone that voting for Prop. 8 was an act of  hatred against gays, is just the kind of intimidation that has turn so many christians against us.   Certainly the  “righteous wrath” that some proponents expressed is not right, but  I witnessed a lot of downright hate coming from the other side more.  That doesn’t make either right.  
       I suppose I will now be vilified for saying what I have  said.  It is not easy  thing to do to speak as I have as a gay person.   People like me are too often vilified by both sides.  
        For the record, I hate no one especially fellow gays,  I just wish more of them would practice the tolerance they demand of everyone else.

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  • Sharon Kendrick Frazier

    I don’t support homosexuality, but I don’t hate those who do. Voting against something you don’t agree with isn’t hating your “neighbor”.  But actions motivated by hate isn’t right either.  Love shouldn’t be about trying to make people feel okay about their sins (or stuff you just don’t agree with), but love also isn’t condemning and harsh. I have family who has chosen same sex partner, but they know I think it’s wrong so do their partner, but we have no problem hanging out together and being with each other because we truly love each other.  

    God is not forcing righteousness down our throat and I don’t think we should do that to others, but I don’t like the choices other’s make to be forced upon me either. There has to be mutual respect for different viewpoints…on both sides.