When I was growing up, I was taught that “homosexuality was a sin.” This was an easy statement for me to accept because I didn’t know, or I didn’t realize that I knew, anyone who was gay.
It is very easy to demonize an abstraction.
When I went to college, I decided to minor in New Testament studies because I wanted to learn more about Jesus. Some of what I was learning about the history of the New Testament was challenging to my faith, but my college chaplain had endless patience with all of my questions. After numerous conversations with my chaplain, I was able to incorporate my new knowledge of Scripture into a more adult faith. In short, I began to walk with Jesus more closely than I had ever walked with Him before.
During these conversations, it gradually came to my attention that my beloved chaplain, Stan, had a partner named Craig.
This realization was quite shocking to me. The pieces didn’t fit. Stan had led me to a closer walk with Jesus, and yet…What on earth was Jesus calling me to believe about homosexuality now??
Needless to say, I had many conversations with Stan about this very question. He explained to me his understanding of certain passages of scripture, and, again, patiently responded to all of my questions. Finally, I said to him, “Stan, I just don’t know any more, but, I do know this…If God has something to say to you and Craig, He is going to say it. It isn’t up to me. I need to be mindful of my own walk, and confess my own sins. Stan, I’m so sorry. That’s as far as I can go right now. Can we still be friends?” Stan hugged me. He replied, “Of course, we can be friends! I would rather hear your thoughtful, honest response than hear you say something when you don’t really believe it.”
As the years went by, I got to know many other Christians who were openly gay.
It was obvious to me that each of these individuals was walking the walk and bearing fruit for Christ.
I was especially blessed to work with a choir director named Bill. It was pure joy to offer hymns of praise to God under Bill’s direction. I gradually realized that Bill’s sexuality was irrelevant to his ministry, as well as to our personal relationship. I no longer had the need to ask questions. I was delighted to work with Bill to bring glory to Jesus.
So, there was no sudden, dramatic moment of transformation for me. Instead, there was a growing awareness that all of us are on the journey with Jesus together.
Stan and I have remained friends, at least Christmas card friends, for over 30 years. He and Craig have continued in a relationship for all those decades. As soon as it became legal in Illinois for them to marry, they did marry. And, I was able to share in their joy without any hesitation!