One of the most painful conversations I ever had was with a straight, Christian LGBT ally who is also a good friend of mine. She was talking about her heart for LGBT people and desire to see them fully included in church. She was telling me how brave her gay friends are and singing the praises of a young lesbian who had just got engaged to her girlfriend.
Being on the side of gay people doesn’t require a revision of traditional theology.
As my friend talked, I couldn’t stop the tears welling up and bursting out to pour down my cheeks. As I listened to stories of her LGBT friends, I wished she also wanted to listen to my story. I wanted to be able to say that it’s not just straight, married men who believe that sex should be reserved for a marriage between one man and one woman. I wanted to say that being on the side of gay people doesn’t require a revision of traditional theology. I wanted to say that I understand more than she does about the pain of growing up gay.
But I didn’t get to say any of that. Instead, I listened to my straight, married friend tell me about how painful it is to be gay. I know that she’s spent a lot of time wrestling with this issue and I really value how much time and thinking she’s invested in seeking to understand. But I also know I’ve done more thinking, crying, loving and losing, praying, agonising and reading than she ever will. That doesn’t make my voice more important, but it does make it worth listening to.
There are lots of us who know all the pain and suffering but have found in Jesus a grace and liberation in costly discipleship.
And I’m not a lone voice. There are lots of us who know all the pain and suffering but have found in Jesus a grace and liberation in costly discipleship. We submit our sexualities to him and find a peace which passes all understanding; a joy which is deeper than romance; a way that is not the way of the world. A lot of the pain and suffering now comes from our friends who don’t want to listen to that story because it doesn’t fit their narrative. Our affirming friends who won’t affirm our costly discipleship or support us on the way. Our friends who have the luxury of seeing this as an ‘issue’ rather than a daily personal walk. Our inclusive friends who don’t include us in the conversation.
So here’s my challenge to affirming friends and straight allies who want to have compassion for gay people – please listen to all of us.