Who is my gay neighbor?

Progressive Evangelical theologian Randal Rauser wrote a new great post about Conservative Christians and their attitude towards the persecution of homosexuals.

Should conservative Christians care about the persecution of Uganda’s homosexuals? I certainly thought so. But it looks like not everybody agrees as I faced some strong criticism in the discussion thread to my article on the topic. (You can skim the discussion thread to find it, if you like.) The hostility, so far as I could see, was shaped to a significant degree by an endless succession of clips of gay pride parades on the evening news.

I have to tell you that the gay people I’ve met are so much more boring than this.

They’re also far more noble than that. (The evangelicals I know are also far more noble than that which one finds in the evening news. But that’s a different topic.)

So how are homosexuals nobler? Consider a couple examples.

In 2000 I was living in London, England. There I was sitting on the Tube. The car was crowded. A couple poofs were sitting nearby. I judged them. Poofs. Yck.

Then the subway stopped. Folks got off and others got on. Among the new passengers was a little old lady. I looked at her and never thought twice.  I had a seat and she didn’t. That’s just the way things are. Too bad for her.

But maybe not…

And then one of the “poofs” jumped out of his seat and offered it to the elderly lady. In a moment I saw that I was the priest shuffling busily by and the gay man I had dismissed with my cavalier, self-righteousness gaze was the Good Samaritan.


Fast-forward five years.

We’re at Buddy Wonton Chinese Restaurant in Edmonton. The family is sitting by a large picture window about to have our meal when a drunk man — presumably homeless — stumbles up to the window and starts staring at my plate of food. I tolerate this for about thirty seconds … and then I wave my hand for him to move on. A switch flips in the man and he starts screaming at me. “I’m going to f*$#^ kill you!” he screams.’

I don’t feel threatened. But I also don’t feel an inclination to go out and confront this man. So I tell the poor Chinese busboy to do so. He turns ashen white and turns to the door to go out and face the wrath of the angry homeless man.

There are a couple of lesbians nearby. I hadn’t paid them any heed prior to this moment. But suddenly one of the ladies, a solid gal with a brushcut, jumps up and follows the poor, terrified Chinese busboy outside. She walks up to the homeless man and gives him a piece of her mind. She tells him what time it is. She tells him to move on. She’s got confidence and courage. Eventually he lowers his head and shuffles on. I am left to enjoy my meal with my family. She walks back inside and joins her consort. I eat my meal and say nothing.

Shame on me. I inadvertently instigated the confrontation with the homeless man. And I left it to the lesbian stranger to defend my honor.

If anything, I am the one that needs forgiveness.”

I once rewrote a parable of Jesus in a way very similar to these real stories.

I made the same experience. Even as I was an atheist, I had prejudices against gay people and viewed them as perverted. Getting to know them personally and hearing their testimonies utterly changed my attitude.

I was especially moved by the life stories of Christian homosexuals who struggled very hard to get rid of their “sinful” sexual orientation, prayed, fasted, took a lot of drugs without any success.

The terrible suffering they went though before accepting their homosexual nature deeply touched me.

All the time I hear fundamentalists telling me that some people might have a pedophilic nature but this gives them no excuse for acting according to it.

This is obviously true, but they forget the main difference: it has never been proven that committed lifelong homosexual relationships are harmful in any way.

So following the teaching of Jesus, we ought to welcome them into the Church.