The recent Spirit Day (wearing purple on October 20) and other initiatives to address bullying of - and public homophobia towards - GLBT folk has generated a startling and distressing amount of lip-curling, spiteful contempt from many in the "Christian" community. I say that with " " because none of that qualifies as Christian in my book. That's The Book, in case you're wondering. I don't know which bits people are reading that say it's OK to destroy someone else's life.
Around 2000, I was sharing a house with a girl in London, who came from a very conservative ultra-religious home country.
She had been really upset - to the point of suicidal unhappiness - for weeks about something, but wouldn't say what it was about (although the ex-girlfriend showing up several times did give me a clue).
Finally one day, she burst into my room in defiant, angry tears and said, "OK, look - I'm gay, all right!" and I was like, "well, yeah, I knew that". She said, "you don't hate me?" and honestly I was so astounded I just stared at her. Finally I said, "of course not" and she just fell to the floor and wept.
• her parents had refused to speak to her for years after she came out;
• she used to get regular hate mail from her brother;
• the big share house we'd been in before we moved out together was full of people from her community, who were constantly making negative and hateful anti-gay comments;
• she was a primary school teacher who was terrified of anyone at school finding out she was gay because she would lose her job;
• she'd come back to London in advance of her girlfriend (her first and only partner, they'd been together for 4 years);
• the girlfriend broke up with her by email but STILL CAME TO LONDON and moved in with HER new girlfriend;
- and then the whole thing just imploded.
No wonder she'd been afraid to tell me - she thought I'd be angry at being "tricked" into living with a lesbian, that I'd tell our mutual friends in London, that I'd contribute to her misery in the same way that everyone else had for the last 6 years.
Because I didn't have an issue with it, because she could actually tell me what was going on, could vent and cry and speak to another human being without being spurned, she got through it. I am honoured that she trusted me, and that our house became a home - somewhere she could relax and be herself.
She was just so unbearably lonely, and it made my heart ache for her. I can't imagine being rejected and betrayed by my family, my culture, my housemates, my partner, my friends and still managing to go to work and hold my life together.
It grieves me immensely that there are people whose whole LIVES are lived this way out of fear - fear that we as a society allow and tacitly encourage.
I don't believe for a moment that giving my friend a safe place to be, that loving her and supporting her until she worked through her situation and began to see hope again, was something Jesus wouldn't have done.
Christians are commanded only two things: to love God and to love each other as we ourselves would be loved.
There's more in the New Testament about challenging our own hypocrisy and ego and sin than most of us pay any attention to, and quite a lot about not judging.