Just Love

2 11 2007

       Ok, you want to talk about moving WAY out of your comfort zone?  God asked me a question several months ago, and I have been pondering it lately.  (Not sure what it means- heavenly voice a little vague.  I’m not, after all, Ron Wood delivering page-long prophetic words.  I’m doing good to get a complete sentence!)
       I was driving along, minding my own business and thinking about the struggles between homosexual activists and christian groups that have hit the news lately.  And while I was thinking about what I agreed with and disagreed with, God asked me this:  “What have you done to love them?”
       Ummm…. to love militant homosexuals? 

        I have to tell you a story.  Actually, two stories.  Both of them have tragic ends.  There was a beautiful boy once, with dark, liquid eyes and a manner like a whipped puppy.  No one at the high school would have anything to do with him.  For one thing, he was openly gay.  For another, he was a terribly abused child whose self-esteem was not even measurable by modern scientific methods.  And those who cringe don’t fare well in high school.
         His name was Mykel.  He had it changed to show gay solidarity after, in the last event of years of abuse, his father lured him to Italy with a promised holiday and abandoned him there peniless and helpless at age 13.  When I sat behind him in trigonometry, he was living with his mother.
         He was a nice kid, and I’m a soft touch for puppy dog eyes.  We joked together, played together, talked on the phone, studied together.  We joked about going to the prom together, as my boyfriend was in college already and couldn’t make it. 
          It didn’t work out, of course, because near the end of the year he was arrested for murder. 
          I had been trying to talk him out of going out on weekends with a very tough older guy he met at work.  But Mykel was such a people-pleaser, weak willed and totally unable to say no to anyone who paid attention to him.  He was an abuse case waiting to happen, and this young man (a thug in the guise of a “lover”) totally dominated him.
          The fellow pressured him into attacking an elderly lady.  What was done to her was perverse and horrible.  Then they burned the house down.   There is no way the Mykel I knew participated in this attack, but it was proved he was there.  He was in the car.  He didn’t try to stop it.
           He wrote me several times from the local jail.  I still have his letters in my box in the garage.  The one that breaks my heart is the one where he’s hoping that he’ll get out soon.  He had recently been accepted for an apprenticeship to an opera company.  “I feel like my life is finally starting to become something,” he wrote, “I hope I can get out of here before I miss the deadline.”
            Nervous and sensitive, he quickly broke down in jail.  He developed a condition (whether physical or psychosomatic, what does it matter?) that paralysed him.  He was helpless, young, openly gay and vulnerable.  The other prisoners were not kind. 
            When he was transferred to another institution, he did not, or was not able to, write to me again.  The counselors at the school wouldn’t give me his transfer information.   Neither would the police.  I wasn’t a relative, after all.  I suspect he’s dead, though I have no way of knowing.  He never had a chance.

           The second story starts a little better.  Jim was not abused.  He was raised in a large, devoutly Catholic family.  I believe they had nine kids.  He was one of the most extraordinarily gifted people I have ever known in my life.  He played several instruments beautifully, grew herbs, cooked, was a whiz at math & science, and could draw intricate detailed maps of the changing political boundaries of Europe during WWI & II from memory.  He was great friends with a broad spectrum of people because he was confident, outgoing, and gentle.
         We dated for a while.  I was one of the earliest of his girlfriends.  In ninth grade he sent me calligraphy love notes sealed with sealing wax, and when he saw how fascinated I was with them, he bought me my own seal.  Each note was folded like a puzzle.  Some were very difficult to open!   Once, when I had chicken pox, he rode fifteen miles on his bike to bring me flowers from his garden.  (He wasn’t old enough to drive.)  He was incredibly romantic.
         Even after we stopped dating, we were friends for a year or two.  We took turns sleeping through Algebra 2, poking each other awake in time to hear the homework.  We called each other every night and worked through the problems on the phone.  (This was for my benefit- I was always a dunce at math.  With Jim’s help, I kept a B average.)
         We drifted away from each other in our Junior year as I was increasingly involved in trying to kill myself earning a college scholarship.  He blew away the state in his junior year winning the state championship for Academic Team with three other very gifted students.  Then he became increasingly interested in theatre.  Our theatre teacher was openly gay and rather discouraging to female hangers-on.  It put a damper on things.  But his senior year, he graduated as the valedictorian of our class of 435.  I was only third, with a GPA of 4.5.  I hate to think what his was.  He earned an extraordinary scholarship, and went to school to study geology.
          In college, I understand he became very active in theatre, decided he was gay, contracted AIDS and died.

        To be honest, unfortunately, my experience with homosexualism doesn’t end there.  I went to college lonely and vulnerable.  And I met another boy with dark, liquid puppy-dog eyes.  Also abused, the child of two alcoholics, and very vulnerable.  I loved him very much and eventually married him the year I graduated from college.
         At the wedding, for the first time in years, he met his former abuser face to face.  After that, a dark spiral began.  Pornography can be addictive.  Did you know that?  Having had a little, you want more.  Having had more, you want something stronger, until the ordinary isn’t enough any more.  Until even the legal isn’t enough any more.  Until no bonds of matrimony, decency, or even safety can stop you.  The man I had known, loved and been intimate with for four years began walking the streets picking up strangers, making annonymous contact with other men at adult book stores, and staying out for days at a time without letting me know if he were even alive. 
        SAA, counseling, love, acceptance… nothing was enough.  One more marriage, crashed and burned after just a few months.  One more man I cared for that I just couldn’t help.

        I could tell more stories of men I have met, have known, whose stories I’ve heard, but I guess that’s enough.  What do I think about homosexuals?  I have very powerful mixed feelings.  Not that they would care.  Most of the ones I have met would have cared very little about what one straight, white, married Christian woman thought about them one way or another.
        The one thing I would say that they all have in common, at least those who have not become total predators, is a deep, agonizing longing to be loved.

        When God asked me, “What have you done to love them?” I began thinking about love.  Christians are going to gay parades to hold signs saying that homosexuality is a sin.  Is that love?  I agree that it is a sin- it’s one of the consensual sins.  God forbids things for two reasons and two reasons only: 1) What you want to do will hurt others, and 2) What you want to do will hurt yourself.  I believe homosexuality is (usually) the second kind.  I’ve seen too many people hurt by it to believe otherwise.  
         But is waving a sign calling someone a sinner loving them?  When I love someone, my son for example, I do a lot of things.  I provide what he needs, I help him, I give him gifts, I pat his back, I console him when he’s afraid, I ease his pain, and I try to counsel him when he’s going the wrong direction.  I don’t generally post a sign on the fridge that says, “Sinner REPENT!”
           “What have you done to love them?”  Frankly, nothing.  I have condemned, but I have not loved.  I have not tried to carry Christ’s love to them where they are, as they are.   I have not “eaten with sinners.”  I have not tried to bind up the broken-hearted or heal the sick.  I have sat back and shook my head, judged them as lost, boycotted Ford, lobbyied for traditional marriage and “voted my values.”  But I have not loved them.  Not in any way they would understand as love.  Not in any way I would understand as love if I were on the recieving end of it!

     I am not sure where I am going with this.  I’m not sure what to do with this question God has handed me.  It seems a tricky kind of thing to deal with.  As I said, what use would they have for a straight white middle-income conservative married white woman who happens to be an evangelical christian who deeply believes that what they’re doing is wrong?  Huh? 
      “Love them,” He said.  “Love them.”  I haven’t quite figured out how yet, Lord, but I’m working on it.  After all, it’s just one sinner to another, don’t you know?  As God is deeply aware, I have no space to be proud of what I am, well enough what I was ten years ago.  No rocks to throw.  Just love.  There has to be some way.  Volunteer to help with the AIDS clinic in town, maybe?  Just love.
         Some day soon I’ll figure it out.

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5 responses

2 11 2007
candress

Thank you for putting all of that into words. I am hopeful and excited to anticipate what God is going to show you and how He will move you to action. I will tell you this, I am totally willing to adopt any ideas He gives you if they ring a true bell within me. I know several homosexual men and women and I also struggle with how to love without condoning the life style that threatens to destroy them. Some of the folks I know tell me that they love Jesus and they believe they are saved. I do not argue with them. I just try to love them where they are at. I know Jesus loves them just as much as He loves me. He died once for all.
Didn’t mean to get long winded, but this surely struck a nerve with me. My heart breaks for the things that are going on in the news right now. The gay acticists who are bashing Christian sacraments and the “church” who is waving signs that say God hates homosexuals.
I love reading your stuff. You challenge me. Thanks.

5 11 2007
jennifer

When I read your post, I was reminded of 1 Cor. 13:4-7
4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

6 11 2007
pastorb007

This is an amazing post.

I am a staunch, non-long blog post reader. But, I have read this one at least five times.

How do we love when we don’t know how? I don’t have that answer. But, I believe the first step is to let our hearts be broken with love and then go from there.

7 11 2007
Abs

This is a really great post, Angela – and one probably worth delving into a bit deeper. Not probably – you most definitely should. We all should. This has been a burden on my heart for a long, long time and it is not traditionally an easy thing to broach or come to any conclusion about. But I think we must. God has softened my heart toward this group of humanity and it almost sickens me how Christians usually respond to them – or don’t know how to respond to them. Please post again..

9 11 2007
cmejia

angela – wow. great post.
it sickens my stomach to see how the church has come to treat people who god loves but have lost their way. but it is so difficult to know how to love – without condoning actions that are destroying them – while still give them truth – without turning them off all together. it makes my head spin sometimes. it grieves my heart that as long as i have walked with god, i still do not fully (or even fundamentally) understand how to do the ONE thing he told us to do for our fellow humans – love. they are really only just like us…minus the one thing that can turn it all around for them. it makes my heart hurt.

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