She just wanted me to see things her way about gay marriage, and thought that perhaps her suggestion, if I were to act upon it, would change my view.
She’d assumed that because I don’t agree with the Supreme Court’s decision that my faulty thinking could be corrected by hanging out with a new crop of friends; friends who’d actually lived the pain of being gay and been denied a chance at the fairy-tale ending.
She’d assumed that somehow, I hadn’t thought through this issue enough, and that despite having sound convictions in other areas, I’d obviously gotten this one very wrong.
She wanted to help, and I appreciate that. I’m sure it’s very perplexing, for those who view this issue as analogous to other civil rights issues, why the whole world won’t just jump on board and celebrate with them. I get that.
What she doesn’t understand is that I have spent quite a bit of time looking at this issue from every possible angle. I have prayed much. And, yes, I have talked to my gay friends about it. But mostly, we’ve talked about other things, like our shared love of music, writing and God.
Certainly, I have read about and talked to plenty of people who have experienced the pain of feeling isolated, different, held back from living in a way that is most accepting to society. Some who’ve shared those feelings are gay, but others are not.
I do think I understand as well any heterosexual can. I try to be a thoughtful person, not just taking someone else’s word on any issue but pondering it deeply before making a decision or moving in a certain direction.
In the end, however, my gay friends have been the ones to most affirm my beliefs about gay marriage.
The truth of the matter is, the gay friends with whom I have talked longest about this also happen to have a deep faith in God, and though they’ve wrestled mightily with their identity, they’ve concluded that being a child of God is the most important part of who they are.
It hasn’t come easy. Many of them chose another path earlier on in their journey, but it didn’t lead to peace. It didn’t lead to fulfillment. They tried the gay lifestyle and came out empty, thirsting for something more.
They found it in the living God.
These particular friends made a decision to live their lives giving to others, not in marriage but in a life of celibacy. Not because they’ve sold out but because they’ve traded their desires for something bigger. They have chosen not to indulge the passions they came to see as wrongly directed, but to pour themselves into others in life-giving ways.
I’ve heard about their struggles, which are ongoing. They say it isn’t easy, and it’s just gotten a notch harder for them to continue living this sacrificial life. But with a light in their eyes, they have stated with conviction that they know they are loved and, for now anyway, they’re sticking with the plan.
These friends want not worldly satisfaction but sainthood, and they have both my complete admiration and emulation.
I love my gay friends because they are real and they have taught me more than anyone what it means to look beyond a culture that offers empty promises for a love that is lasting and fulfilling beyond measure, above anything this world can give.
I want to continue to be there for them and I hope they will continue to be there for me. Through them, I have become a better me, and I hope I have given them something of value in return.
I’ve been labeled intolerant, hateful and bigoted for my views, but my heart is filled with love. God sees that love, my real friends do, too, and my goal is to live a life showing the truth of it, even if I am misunderstood and persecuted along the way.
I was not promised anything different, after all. But knowing that I both love and am loved, by others and the one who sees all, means everything.
[For the sake of having a repository for my newspaper columns and articles, I reprint them here, with permission, a week after their run date. The preceding ran in The Forum newspaper on July 18, 2015.]