The Gay Question September 8, 2010Posted by Matt in family, gender.
Tags: children, gays, homophobia, parenting, understanding differences
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It goes without saying that when your children attend a large public school, they hear things from other kids that you will not agree with or may find downright abhorrent. Our parenting style is relatively open, in that we do not keep a vice grip on the things they hear and see and in that we make ourselves available to them for any questions they may have. While this can be a bit uncomfortable at times, we realize that it is important that they receive open and truthful answers to whatever they ask.
Our 8 year old daughter is a very intelligent child and I do not just say that because I’m her father – she really is a smart, perceptive person and we have had some very interesting talks over the years. Yesterday she and I were sitting together and, with a confused look on her face, she said, “Daddy, somebody on the bus was saying that black people are gay.”
“Well,” I said, searching my brain for a response and looking for time to formulate a coherent one, “What did you think about that?”
“Umm, I think it was mean.”
“I think you’re right,” I said, “and that doesn’t make very much sense either, does it?”
She let out a little giggle, “No.”
“You see, I think it’s always wrong to single out people, whether it is one person or a whole group of them, and say things that are not nice or not true about them. That goes for black people, white people, brown people, and gay people. We may look different or act different from each other, but we are all just people.”
“Daddy,” she began in a tone I recognized, one that means she already had an answer in her head but is looking for some adult validation, “What does it mean to be gay?”
“Have you ever heard people use the word gay before?”
“Ummm…yes, like happy?”
“Well, that’s true that gay can mean happy, but it can also mean a type of person.” I took a deep breath and tried to organize my thoughts before continuing. “You know how daddy likes girls, like momma, and momma likes boys, like daddy?”
She nodded slowly, her forehead crinkled up in thought.
“And you like boys too, don’t you?” I said, knowing the numerous times she has come home talking about various “boyfriends.”
She giggled again and nodded affirmatively.
“Well,” I continued, “gay people are different because they like people like themselves. Gay boys like other boys and gay girls like other girls.”
“You mean,” she asked, still a little confused, “like me and my friends or like momma and Mrs. Veronica?”
“No, I don’t mean just as friends. I mean that the boys have boyfriends and the girls have girlfriends”
Her eyes opened wide and she looked at me with shock, “What?”
“I know it seems strange when it isn’t something that you feel, but that’s the way they are. That is the way they were born and there isn’t anything wrong with that. It’s just different. Do you understand?”
With her eyes still wide, she shook her head negatively.
“It can be hard to understand things sometimes when they are different from us, but that does not mean it is wrong. What we should always remember is that even though people are different from us, they are still people, and it is important that we treat them with respect and be good friends to them.”
Smiling up at me, she threw her arms around my neck and gave me a big hug. “I love you daddy.”
“I love you too, honey.”
She’s my little liberal activist…
Opening the Door April 28, 2010Posted by Matt in Christian Beliefs.
Tags: Bible, church of christ, gays, progressive vs. conservative
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We have a friend (actually I’ve just recently met her, but she and Diana know each other well and her young daughter is a good friend of Rachel’s at school) who differs a bit from the rest of our diverse group of associates. It’s not that she’s African-American (most of our friends are) or that she’s a single mother (we know plenty), it is something else entirely. She is openly gay.
Sure, I have gay friends and Diana does as well, but this is probably the first time we have had someone we both know and who has a child the same age as ours (a characteristic that most family friends of ours have) come into our lives.
We know the majority of our friends through church and it is central to our social circle, so at some point – I don’t recall if it was before I met her or after – Diana told me that she had invited her to visit our place of worship. Normally this wouldn’t even be a point of discussion, but the possibility caused us to pause for a moment and consider the ramifications.
It’s no secret that I have a progressive view of the Bible and view the moral codes contained in it as cultural ordinances, and certainly not the all-encompassing divine mandates that many want to make it out to be – of course then those same people tend to pick and choose which rules and regulations to elevate to divine command status, but that’s another story altogether. That being the case, I have no problem with gays and feel no need to convert them from their way of life.
But, in the minds of many Evangelical Christians, there are few things worse than being gay. It’s easy to dismiss other transgressions spoken of in the Bible like, say, gluttony (just take a look around your church next Sunday), but being gay has become, in effect, the unforgivable sin, the one elevated above all of the rest as your direct ticket to a fiery, tortuous afterlife.
Our congregation is a fairly moderate one, sometimes balancing precariously between the liberal and conservative members, and that is something I can appreciate, even while pushing from the progressive side. But the question remains, would someone like our friend be welcome or would they feel as though they would be donning the scarlet letter and treated as an outcast?
At some point, churches are going to have to confront this issue and make a decision – will they continue in their role of Condemner-in-Chief or will they open the door to all, regardless of race or social status or sexual orientation?
Knowing what I do about our congregation, I think it would go over well. We have a good deal of socio-economic and racial diversity, and though I’m sure many who knew the particulars would have reservations, I don’t think they would be voiced and I think the visit would be a pleasant one. Long-term, though, I’m not so sure that the Church of Christ is ready to take a step forward and open the door a little wider.
And that may be its death knell.