It's not often that I start to write something shaking in anger, but two fellow conservatives, Joe Carter and Daniel Larison have done just that with their callous response to a Newsweek cover story on gay marriage. What's so callous about it, is that their words are written without understanding the life of gay person, who isn't interested in tearing down society, but just wants that he and his partner have the same rights that Joe and Daniel have. What makes me mad is that they are so willing to judge me and those who favor gay rights as something beyond the pale, as heretical to the Christian faith that I have belonged to since I was a child, a traitor to conservatism, when I have in choosing a partner for life, done what is most conservative.
But first you have to know something about me. First, I am a devout Christian. I grew up in the black Baptist church and also in evangelicalism. I am proud of that heritage. As I grew older I knew that I was different, that I felt different. But back then, I didn't think one could or should be gay, I thought it a sin. As I graduated from colllege I decided to do some real studying on the issue; being an evangelical, I thought it important to do what I was taught to do: study scripture. It was there that I learned more about what the Bible really said about homosexuality. I came to wonder if what I was taught was totally correct. I made some cautious steps to start to wonder if what was said was in the Bible was really there after all. I remember one day, lying in bed thinking on all these things, when I felt like I was in the presence of God. I felt as if I revealed to God that I was bisexual (I could only accept that I was bisexual at the time, more caution). I felt God's answer as total warmth. There was no hate or anger, just love.
Now, I am not that much of a mystic, but I have to believe that experience was from God.
Skipping a few years, I was now fully accepting of being gay and then another thing happened: I have a call to be a minister. This time, I went forward in faith, knowing that it was God through the Holy Spirit that calls people to a life of service. I went into seminary and was ordained in 2002. It was hard at first because of restrictions for openly gay clergy, but today I am an out person serving God as a minister.
In 2005, I met my partner Daniel. He's the son of a Lutheran pastor and still works in the church as a church musician. After two years of dating, Daniel wanted to get married. I didn't understand why one would want to go through such an endeavor, but he did. Daniel is a big political liberal, I am a conservative and yet, it was the liberal that wanted a ceremony, a way of publicly expressing our love and mutual joy for each other, to care for each other.
In many ways, we are opposites: he's white, I'm black. He's an extrovert, I'm an introvert. He grew up in small towns in North Dakota, I grew up in a small city near Detroit. But the thing is, we are there for each other. We support each other and care for one another.
Larison makes a case that those of us in favor of gay marriage and homosexuality in general are playing fast and loose with the Bible. But if what God's word is what it is, if it is unchanging, then we shouldn't eat shrimp, or wear mixed fabrics, or get a divorce. If God's Word is "unchanging" then I guess as an African American, I should still be a slave.
I find all of this hyperactivity concerning homosexuality among fellow conservatives with sadness. I wish that instead of hiding behind the Bible, they would listen for God. I wish they would talk to gay people. I wish they could listen to how we have been hounded out of families and churches.
The fact is, this kind of fear is devasting to the conservative movement. Gay marriage is not about destroying hetrosexual marriage. It is instead about gays doing something most conservative, entering into a long standing tradition. Traditions change over time, but they are still traditions.
Conservatives have much to be proud of. We have defeated communism and worked for a smaller government. But I fear that the stain of homohobia will hamper our movement for decades to come.