I was riding down a south Georgia portion of Interstate 75 when I looked up and saw a huge, new billboard for a local church that read “HOMOSEXUALITY IS AN ABOMINATION.” It was signed, “God.” At first I didn’t let the sign bother me. I had a good weekend planned, so I just thought, “Those ignorant mother f•ckers,” and kept on driving. A couple of days later, when I was heading northbound, I saw that the church had the same sign posted so that everyone traveling on I-75 could see it, no matter if you were going north or south.
That time the gigantic billboard pissed me off. I hadn’t noticed the sign until I was right up on it, so I didn’t have any time to jot down the phone number or even catch the full name of the church. I’m sure it was something like “Christ’s Love Baptist Church.” Normally, I don’t let anything like that bother me, but here I was, just driving down the road and minding my own business, listening to music, not hurting anyone, when some church tells me and every single car whizzing by that GOD himself thinks I’m an abomination. I wanted nothing more than to blow that f•cking sign up. But, of course, I kept my cool and drove on home, but I’ve been thinking about that sign for days now.
The billboard was referring, of course, to the random Bible verse in Leviticus (20:13) that states, “If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination.” Yeah, I guess that’s pretty straightforward. In fact, I can’t think of any other way to interpret that verse except that homosexuality is not only wrong, but an abomination. And then of course, there is the section in 1 Corinthians (6:9-11) that lists who all won’t get into heaven (or, “inherit the kingdom” as the Bible puts it); yep, you’ve got it homosexuals are on the list, along with fornicators, thieves, wizards, and all of the other familiar evildoers.
Okay, so we’ve established that there are at least two verses out of 31,173 in the Bible that are against homosexuality. But, it’s mainly Leviticus 20:13 that opponents of homosexuality cling to. But here’s my question for that church who paid a lot of money to put up that billboard, and all of the other churches like it: Why do you pick and choose which Bible verses you stringently adhere to? The Old Testament is full of random and ridiculous rules and commandments that you have no problem overlooking. Like, what about Deuteronomy 22:5 “A woman shall not wear a man’s garment, nor shall a man put on a woman’s cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord.” So, say, women wearing pant-suits are an abomination, too? While we’re on the topic of God deciding what we can and can’t wear, what about 1 Timothy 2:9: “Women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire.” So, where’s your sign that says “WOMEN WHO BRAID THEIR HAIR AND WEAR GOLD ARE WHORES” – GOD” ?
And let’s not forget the Bible’s punishment for adulterers: DEATH for the man and the “other woman.” Deuteronomy 22:22: “If a man is found sleeping with another man’s wife, both the man who slept with her and the woman must die.” MUST die. Phew. Maybe if we stuck to this rule the Earth’s over-population problem would be more in check.
So, why ignore those verses? They’re just as straightforward as the one against homosexuality. Actually, if you want to be such a good little Bible follower, then why not follow Leviticus 20:13 to the letter? Because, let’s read the entire verse: “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.” So, why quit with calling me an abomination? Don’t be half-hearted about it; carry out God’s commandment and kill me. I hear stoning was an Old-Testament favorite. Or, perhaps, if you pray hard enough, God will destroy us with a column of fire.
If I had to guess, “Christians” and people like that who just pick and choose which parts of the Bible they want to believe, are simply using the Bible – and Leviticus 20:13 in particular – as a shield to justify their own personal feelings and repulsion to homosexuality. And don’t give me that whole “love the sinner, hate the sin” shit; that’s just a way for you to discriminate and still sleep at night.
And I guess, what I really want to ask is why did you choose to ignore Matthew 7:1 “DO NOT JUDGE, OR YOU TOO WILL BE JUDGED.” Please, tell me, where in the Bible it says, “I, God, grant you permission; be my judges on earth, tell everyone that is not like yourself that I hate them and they’re going to hell; be arrogant enough to sign billboards with my name.” I looked and I couldn’t find that particular verse. Don’t you think if God really thinks I’m an abomination he’ll take care of me when I stand before him? He doesn’t need you to do his work for him.
And what about the verse when the disciples asked Jesus which of the commandments was the most important, and the Prince of Peace answered (Mark 12:30-31), “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Let me repeat, because obviously you missed that one, even though it’s written in red in the New Testament: LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF. THERE IS NO COMMANDMENT GREATER THAN THESE. Seems kind of like Jesus pulled the trump card there: when in doubt, love your neighbor. And I have to say, when I saw that billboard, or see signs on TV that say “God hates fags!” I don’t really feel the love.
If we’re all God’s children (Jeremiah 1:5 – “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.”), then just let him deal with us, the people that you think are an abomination. I’d much rather face him than you, because I pick and choose to believe 1 John 4:8: “Whoever does not love does not know God, because GOD IS LOVE.”
Okay, I’m done with that. I know I shouldn’t let such billboards make me bitter against all Christians. Because I have met tons of Christians who actually follow Christ’s message. I just find it repulsive when so-called “Christians” spend all of their time judging and preaching hell fire (not only against gay folks, but against anyone who doesn’t fit into their idea of a ‘holy’ person). Actually, I pity those angry Christians. I think it’s sad that they read the Bible and all they find is damnation. They really missed the good stuff.
So, I may be done with the pick-and-choose Christians, but I do have a few other things to say. So, sit tight.
First, let me say, that I’m not writing any of this to justify myself to anyone. Nor am I writing to fight for understanding on behalf of every gay man and woman; I’m only one person and I can’t speak for everyone.
I’m not sure how many people out there still believe that being gay is a choice. Maybe I’d be surprised by how many do. Since I grew up in the Southern Baptist “Belt Buckle” of the Bible Belt, I grew up believing that being gay was a sin. And if it was a sin, then it was a choice. That definitely caused some conflict within me; I didn’t understand why, even though I was as good a Christian as anyone else, these thoughts and desires were still in me. So, I’d pray harder for them to go away while wondering if the other guys in my class were struggling with the same thing.
It was not until I got to college that I even heard the idea that people could be born gay, and it made such perfect sense to me. That was the only way to explain my “defect” and why it wouldn’t go away; it had to be inborn.
My reaction then, naturally, was to research what caused homosexuality. I wanted to know exactly why I was they way I was. What I found only frustrated me: you could find articles that stated, yes, homosexuality is inborn, and the next article would say that there was no scientific evidence for that, so it must be a choice. It pretty much depended who was funding the research, and it gave weight to the axiom that you find what you’re looking for.
Of course I dismissed the ones that said I had chosen this “lifestyle” and read the ones that suggested I was born this way. Some hinted that it may be genetic (though I now understand that a “gay gene” will never be discovered, because that’s not the way genes work. A single gene doesn’t control something as complex as sexual orientation or intelligence or personal dispositions). Some research suggested it was environmental, perhaps a different blend of hormones in the womb. Others still said that it was psychological – maybe the child didn’t have enough interaction with the parent (or relatives) of the same sex during the important stages of development. Those same scientists said that even though homosexuality might have been onset after birth, it happened so early in development that it was still not a choice on behalf of the person. Despite all of the studies on brain structure, and hormone levels, and birth order, it seems that the state of the science right now is that science can’t say decisively what causes homosexuality. Here’s a good document for an overview of all the experiments and studies and the role that “choice” plays (namely that some people choose to live their life openly, while others choose to live a “straight” life).
I am a firm believer in the science of evolution, so my search for answers was not only for personal satisfaction, but also for understanding of why there would be homosexuals in nature. Especially after being called “unnatural” once, I wanted to find out where in the natural world I fit. An obvious answer would be that we’re an evolutionary mistake. It happens; sometimes mutations lead to dead ends (like, uh, not being able to reproduce…yeah, that’s not so great for the survival of the species). However, after giving it some thought, I only half-jokingly now state that in a world of rampant overpopulation, I and those like me are evolution’s population control, a “natural” way of slowing down our population growth so that the world doesn’t give out of resources quite as quickly. A friend once told me that homosexuality is God’s way of assuring that the most brilliant minds are not bothered with children. Hey, you’ve got to have a good sense of humor when dealing with this type of stuff…
Anyway, I eventually quit reading, because I only became more frustrated after each article. I realized that I didn’t care whether it was a faulty gene, or a hormonal imbalance…I didn’t choose to be this way. I just had to accept it and carry on with my life. And eventually I did. To hell with anyone (including myself) who demanded an explanation.
And to anyone who believes that there can be “gay therapy” or that you can “pray the gay away,” I have a little experiment for you: for my straight readers – try to make yourself truly love and have sex with a member of the same sex. It just doesn’t work, does it? When you were born, you didn’t decide, or make the choice to be straight, right? And being attracted to another guy or another woman just doesn’t make sense to you. It’s the same thing – I tried for years and years to be “into” girls. It just didn’t work. And to expect that gay folks can be “cured” by therapy is absurd. Sure, there are “success” stories – of gay people who want to be accepted SO bad, and have been told for so long that they are a sinner and disgusting, that they “convert” to being straight. And they may even believe they are straight. But in my opinion, they’re just acting straight to gain acceptance. And to me “gay therapy” is destructive to people’s identity and self esteem. But I’m not the only one that thinks that way. Here is the link to the official paper put out by the American Psychological Association on the dangers of gay therapy.
I think that most people who are against homosexuality, or at least have an aversion to it, don’t understand it; they don’t know (or at least don’t know that they know!) a gay person. It seems like most people’s mind goes straight to the bedroom when they think of “gay.” That’s normal, I guess. I mean, sex is one way we categorize ourselves; it’s in the terminology: homosexual, heterosexual. We put ourselves into boxes depending on our reproductive capability and sexual attraction. But, what a lot of people don’t take the time to think about is that just like straight couples, what goes on in the bedroom is only one aspect of life. Gay men and women actually (believe it or not) love each other just as wholly as straight couples do. Remember that uncontrollable, dizzying feeling of butterflies in your stomach when you have a crush on someone? And that moment when you may realize that, despite yourself, you’re in love with that person? I’ve felt that. For another guy. Maybe I’m just some idealistic, hippy humanist, but I’m not sure how love, in any of its forms, can be wrong. And I’m not sure how someone can tell me that the love that I feel is wrong, or less than the love that they feel. Oh well; there are a lot of things in life that I don’t understand…
So, wrapping this wandering pondering up, besides the legal injustice (people have no problems accepting our work and our tax money, but only just recently let us serve openly in the military, and only allow us to receive the legal and financial advantages of marriage in 6 states of this Land of the Free), I find it really sad that people like me have to worry about coming out – about explaining and justifying who they are to their friends and families. That’s something that straight people don’t have to do.
Now, let me add again that I’m not writing for every gay American. I don’t know how they all feel. I know that some people have had a way worse experience than I’ve had; we’ve all been made aware recently of the kids committing suicide because they were bullied. My heart goes out to them. But, fortunately, while deciding to come out created a lot of distress for me, I try not to focus on the negative (though it’s hard when I’m driving along the interstate and see such billboards!) and instead focus on the positive. Yeah, America still has strides to take in order to treat all of its citizens equally, but in some countries people are still murdered and chopped up with machetes for being gay. So, in that respect, I’m thankful that I happened to be born in the US.
And lastly: I don’t expect everyone to accept homosexuality. That simply won’t happen. But please don’t, for example, use the argument that gay marriage will ruin the institution of marriage; 51% of marriages (between a man and woman, mind you!) in America end in divorce. And don’t quote the Bible against me, because there are just as many verses that can be fired against you. And if you really have to have someone to “blame,” then either blame God for creating us, or blame straight parents…they’re the ones having all the gay babies! (Okay, maybe an inappropriate time to joke…) And even if you believe that I chose to live this way, what does it matter? How does it hurt you? Don’t worry, I’m not out to convert you or your children to the dark side! And sure, I want to take over the world, but that has nothing to do with me being gay. So, even if you think homosexuality is a “lifestyle” that is chosen, I just don’t see how it affects you. Who cares what I do in my life as long as it doesn’t negatively affect you?
So, I will end with this request: I do not ask that you understand me or welcome me with open arms. You have the right not to. I will not hate you if you don’t. But, I ask for the same in return. If you don’t love me or accept me, at least leave me alone.