Coming Out In the Outer Banks: Is Loving the Homosexual Enough?
Here are a few words from the United Unitarian Congregation of The Outer Banks and Rev. George Smith on loving your neighbor and loving yourself.
No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.
I was not born with a hunger to be free. I was born free—free in every way that I could know…It was only when I began to learn that my boyhood freedom was an illusion, when I discovered as a young man that my freedom had already been taken from me, that I began to hunger for it.
A man who takes away another man’s freedom is a prisoner of hatred; he is locked behind the bars of prejudice and narrow-mindedness…the oppressed and the oppressor alike are robbed of their humanity.
Educational and employment decisions should be based on an individual's abilities and qualifications and should not be based on factors or personal characteristics that are not germane to academic abilities or job performance. Traditionally we have viewed race, sex, religion, and national origin as among those factors that are not connected with academic abilities or job performance. An individual's sexual orientation is another factor which is not relevant to educational and employment decisions. Therefore, only relevant factors are to be considered in such decisions and equitable and consistent standards of conduct and performance are to be applied at North Carolina State University. This internal policy does not apply to the University's relationships with outside organizations, including the federal government, the military, ROTC, and private employers.
This sermon is for all those whose lives have been deemed beyond the pale–those who are Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals and Transgender Persons. You have been marginalized, and you have not passed the ideological and theological moral test that some have created. I dissent and agree with you that your lives are natural for you and part of the natural process of living. I stand in solidarity with you to proclaim to the world that you, the Gays, the Lesbians, the Bisexuals, and the Transgender Persons are humans, to be accorded the same worth and dignity that all humans deserve, that your life style is not a crime, is not a moral sin, is not to be despised. Your life is full of worth and dignity because you are a human being. I embrace you as human. I embrace you as a person. I embrace you as friend and fellow traveler on this journey called life.
I have never preached a sermon on homosexuality, bisexuality or transgenderness. When I was a United Methodist minister, I was bound by church rules to only preach about the sinfulness of these sexual orientations. I would not preach that point of view through. I did not believe it or agree with it. In that church, a practicing person of one of these orientations could not be a church member, a church leader or ordained into its ministry. I felt helpless and hopeless in that situation. In my own way I tried to subvert the rule. One of my parishioners, an elderly woman came to me because her nephew had just come out to her. She could not understand him and what he was doing. She wanted to know what God would think of this. Would her nephew go to Hell? She was genuinely in fear. We talked. I tried to allay her fears. At the same time I tried to expand her view of homosexuality. I assured her that God would not condemn her nephew to Hell. I even spoke about the position of the Bible especially the teachings of Jesus in that he never spoke about the homosexual. I just encouraged her to see that the Gay person was not cut off from God. It was my way of subverting the rules.
My heart ached for her nephew. And I had a great sense of sadness because he most likely could not be his totally true self. We as a society would rather keep himself in his closet. We don’t want to know. We don’t want to understand. We don’t want to comprehend the pain and heartache that is there.
Adding to the pain, some religious folk say, “We love the homosexual, bisexual, the Transgender Person, but we do not love their actions which are sinful.” It fits with their religious belief; love the sinner but not the sin. What does this mean? Is this kind of loving enough? When religious leaders of this ilk proclaimed that Aides was God’s punishment on homosexuals, was this how to show love? Is it loving to cut off from fellowship other human beings? Is it loving to damn others to Hell? Do we need that kind of love? Love is the crux of the issue here. Love is that which takes us beyond our normal self involvement to meet others where they are and to experience them for whom they are. It is to react positively to the very core of their being.
It is sad, that the one of the great religious leader of the past who spoke the most about love in his teachings has had his religious views perverted by his very own. One of Jesus’ basic dictums was to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. It is a very profound statement about love. We do not need to believe that Jesus is some sort of deity to take seriously his view of love. In fact a Buddhist monk suggested that the love that Jesus spoke about should make Christians want to go to hell because it is there that they could best live out this true sense of love in compassionate caring for others in Hell who else would have as much need of it. Its profoundness is in the deep sense of love of our selves. This is not narcissism—not a sense of self over others, but of accepting, of knowing, of being in comfortable relationship with our own being. If we love ourselves, we can and will love others. It is a response to others that comes out of our response to our own selves. It is only then that we can truly love another.
“Loving the homosexual” is a mixed message because what is being said is that I supposedly love you dearly without liking that you are at your core. Not loving the core states that you don’t like what that inner sense of self is. Homosexuality, Bisexuality, Transgender is what a person is at their very core not a set of behaviors that are put on or tried out. It is what a person is at the very depth of him or her self. It is deeply disingenuous to say that I love someone when I really do not love the very core of his or her being. In reality it is not love that is being shown. It is really dislike, maybe even hate.
Then, why such dislike, why such hate? How can 10% of the population generate such terror for some? It is partly fear. Fear that the family will be destroyed, fear that kids will be molested, and fear that youth will be seduced into becoming homosexuals. Each of these is myths that have been refuted by very thorough scientific studies. And yet belief still outweighs truth. I have a very dear friend who has fairly conservative religious views with an overlay of a deep concern for social justice. I became speechless when he stated that the homosexual male must be kept away from children because all they want to do is to molest children. He refused to see the studies which give the evidence of a different point of view. What ideology does to our sense of truth! This myth about homosexuals, bisexuals, transgender persons needs to be dispelled along with such other myths as their being mentally or psychologically ill, poor parenting practices created who they are, abuse is a progenitor, bad experiences with the opposite sex may be the culprit, or having a domineering mother. These are believed by some to create the problem and intervention will cure these individuals. Most claims of such cures have not proved for the most part.
One of the most difficult aspects of our culture that does impinge upon reworking norms related to sexual orientation is our white heterosexual male dominated hierarchical system. It requires us to be aggressive in order to make it in this society. Women have been placed at a disadvantage in this system. It does not take into account the needs of the disadvantaged. Any alternatives that might challenge the system are eliminated early on. They are closed out of the system.
The result? Many people have to stifle their true selves in order to be acceptable by others. It wreaks havoc upon families. It takes a terrible toll on the health and well being of many people. Consider the high suicide rate of teenagers who feel left out because of their sexual orientation. It is one of the leading causes of death amongst teenagers.
An alternative to this system is learning from modern Paganism, its non-hierarchical system and the balance between male and female along with its acceptance and incorporation of Homosexuality, Bisexuality and Transgender Persons, as whole parts of their circle of fellowship.
It is not all doom and gloom. There is a marvelous book, called An American Family, about a Gay couple who adopted hard to place children—children of crack mothers. They willingly took these children because of the love they felt for others. Because they believed that they were good parents. One of the babies that they adopted had a teenage sister. One day when she was visiting her younger sibling. She looked up at one of the Dads and said, “Will you be my father? Will you adopt me?” In these visits she came to love these men and wanted to be a part of a loving family. What a marvelous testimony to love.
So where are we?
A very good question Rev Smith just where are we?
Yesterday I sent an article called National Coming Out Day… Putting the Out in The Outer Banks to be listed on the internet content sharing service Diggs, like I have done with many of my article from this site. To my surprise it has gotten a bit more notice then most of the articles I’ve posted there, but not all of it has been positive…
I’ve had a one person tell me that this country is in the shape it is all because of gays, that I would surly be burning in hell and that I should go back to Africa… now I would love to go back to Africa, because my trip to South Africa it was one of the best surfing trip I’ve ever taken, there were plenty of good waves and plenty of nice gay folks there, but I’m sure the comments was not given in a very complimentary way.
Yes there are still an abundance people who would see my rights as a human being and my rights as a taxpaying US citizen denied because I am gay on ground it does not fit their religious beliefs, not very unlike when the Nazis denied basic human rights to Jews or when the old south and South Africa denied basic rights to blacks. In all of those examples the Bible was quoted as the reason for it to be so.
To those folk I'd like to say… God made me and God don't make no junk.
I’d also like to commend the Unitarians and Rev Smith; This world to be unquestionably be a better place if we had a few more people like them and a few less like the some of the commenter's on my Diggs article.