To Argue or Not to Argue: That is the Argument
To Argue or Not to Argue: That is the Argument.
For those of us who are members of the LGBT community and are either current or former members of a religious one, there is constant tension when it comes to discussing our sexuality with friends and family.
I grew up entrenched and nurtured in the Fundamentalist Christian faith. At the time of my coming out, my Christian resume included everything from missionary to Christian school teacher to teacher in an ex-gay ministry. 95% of my close friends and acquaintances espoused fundamentalist Christian beliefs and ideas (as did I).
When I came out, the number one question asked of me was “How do you reconcile your ‘choice of lifestyle’ (don’t even get me started on that phrase) with your faith and what the Bible says about homosexuality?” In the beginning, I claimed that I didn’t know how to reconcile the two but that I didn’t think the Westernized take on the biblical passages was accurate. That answer cost me about 80% of my Christian friends.
Months later with growth and soul searching, my answer evolved to: “God made me this way and I don’t feel like I need to reconcile or justify anything about my sexuality.” I lost another 10%. Though I didn’t feel the need, I constantly entered into dialogue and debate with my fundamentalist acquaintances because I desperately wanted them to understand that who I am after my coming out is the same as who I was before. These dialogues always contained strong emotions and high levels of frustration, anger, and disappointment. Yet, I always did and still do enter into them.
There is a friendly debate going on right now at www.religiondispatches.com between two writers about whether it is smart for gay people to debate the scriptures at all. Both writers have made good points for their respective arguments.
One writer maintains that dialogue is possible if one can get those with the religious beliefs to admit that there is ambiguity in the main verses used to condemn homosexuality. The other writer maintains that those who most often speak out against homosexuality and cite scripture, hold so tightly to their beliefs that they would never recognize or admit the uncertainty found in these verses. The second writer believes that arguing the scriptures is a futile endeavor.
After I lost most of my Christian friends, I reticently debated my sexuality vs. the Christian faith. Other friends who grew from my identical background have grown weary of this arduous dialogue and debate. Many of them have decided it is better to cut loose those who would try to argue in order to preserve their own peace and make the statement that they have nothing to debate because they are secure in their sexuality and their love of God. I don’t disagree with this choice. I respect it. In fact, I wish I could make it.
These friends often ask me why I still choose to debate. My answer is usually that I can’t help it. I am still, five years later, amazed at the certainty with which my life and my love are casually and quickly dismissed as invalid by those who I used to pray with, serve with, and love Jesus with. I am floored regularly by some of the seemingly ignorant and horribly demeaning statements made by those who I know to be incredibly intellectual people with good hearts. I am compelled by my astonishment to try to enter in and provide a different perspective. Or maybe, I just can’t let it go.
I certainly don’t enjoy hearing my friends’ concern for my salvation, or the constant dismissal of my wife, or the quoting of verses with an interpretation I believe is wrong.
I don’t enjoy the boiling down of my complex sexuality to the act of sex. All of these things, in a vacuum are demeaning. So why do I continue to debate? Why do you continue to debate?
For me, it’s a compulsion. I am compelled to put a familiar face on homosexuality and to show it to those who have indoctrinated themselves so thoroughly that they have lost sight of the humanity of those of us who believe differently. That’s what someone had to do for me, when I was condemning and dismissing the “others” along with the rest. How else can change and humane dialogue take place?
What do you think?
Apryl Prentiss is a right wing dropout. Born and raised in Virginia Beach, VA and heavily involved in the evangelical Christian community for her entire life. She lives in Richmond, VA with her partner, Adrian, and enjoys trying to dialogue with those in the evangelical community about sexuality.
Two sites that commemorate the history of LGBTQ Americans were recently added to the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places, according to The Durango Herald. The service announced Furies Collective, which is a Capitol Hill rowhouse in Southeast Washington, and San Juan’s Edificio Comunidad de Orgullo Gay de Puerto Rico, the two new [...]May 9, 2016
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