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After posting the Box Turtle Essay…..

….“”Conservative Christians with a ‘heart for the homosexual’ still don’t get it” I received an e-mail from an old high school "friend." 

I have not edited her e-mail (she apparently doesn't know how to use paragraph breaks.) Let me preface this a bit, she is 38 years old, divorced three times and is currently married for the fourth time. So, here is what she wrote: “Hey David, I love you man, always have and always will. You were my best friend for a long time so what I say now is not to offend or judge in any way. When you become a Christian and are "born again" in Christ, your sins are washed away (forgiven) and the Holy Spirit comes and dwells within you. That doesn't mean you don't sin, but it means that you will know inside that what you are doing is going against what God wants for you and if you proceed you will feel badly for doing so. We all sin — noone is perfect. But being a true Christian — not a lukewarm Christian — means you are constantly striving to better yourself and live by God's word on a daily basis and it means you are changing your "sin behaviors" into behaviors that are positive and Godly. It is not for Christians to judge anyone as that is not our job to do. There are many sins of the flesh not just sexual that we as humans find it hard to overcome but if we want to follow God, we must overcome those urges. And yes, in many cases that means being alone. If you truly believe in God and His Word, you cannot live a homosexual lifestyle and feel it's OK and that you are still a Christian. That's not to say that if you ask for forgiveness it will not be given to you, because it will. There is only one eternal sin mentioned in the Bible and that's blaspheming the Holy Spirit. Everything else can be forgiven if asked of Christ. Everyone can see the Kingdom of Heaven if they have true remorse for what they have done and in their heart truly request forgiveness. This life is short, eternal life is forever. My personal opinion is that I would much rather spend my short time here alone and spend eternity in the Kingdom of Heaven than to spend my time here in a life that God does not approve of, never ask for forgiveness and end up spending an eternity in Hell. People say, what if there isn't a Hell at all? But I say, what if there is? Do you really want to take that chance?

My response to her below the fold: When I first read your e-mail, my initial reaction was one of anger, and once that subsided I was left with nothing but pure disappointment. I found it to be extremely hypocritical, condescending and arrogant that you feel that you are "entitled" to love and be loved, yet I should force myself to abstain from that same feeling. You said that what you say is not to offend or judge, but that is exactly what you have done, judge. 

What you, and apparently your god, wishes for me and the hundreds of millions on this planet like me, is to be loveless our entire lives. You say that your god is one of love, then why on earth, or in this universe for that matter, ask of us to deny the love that comes natural to us. Your belief is just that, your belief, it is not mine, and no matter what you say will not change that fact. I am not here to change your belief in your god, all I ask is that I, and the millions like me, be granted the same dignity, respect, and legal status that you and everyone else takes for granted that is denied to us on a DAILY basis.

My husband, although not legal, but that is how we saw each other, of 13 years were faced with many legal challenges when he fell ill to cancer. We had all of our paperwork in order, our wills, our powers of attorney, medical directives, etc., yet I was denied the RIGHT that he granted through ALL legal forms to make his medical and financial decisions for him while he was incapacitated. Now imagine that was you and your husband. Oh that's right, you have been granted "special treatment" because you are heterosexual, so therefore, you are granted different laws and rules that you are allowed to live by. I, and the millions like me, are forced to live our lives without those loving relationships that EVERY human seeks. 

You really don't understand how offensive that is, do you? Why should I be "forgiven" for something that is as natural to me as being heterosexual is for you? What you also fail to realize is that I was forced so far in the closet by being forced to endure the endless bullshit by the private school, it took me YEARS to come to terms with my sexual ORIENTATION (it is NOT a "lifestyle.") Why the hell do you think I started doing drugs in high school? It was because I was alone! It was because of all the guilt I was feeling that I was the only one having the feelings I was dealing with. I felt as though nobody knew or understood what I was going through, except for ONE student at Westwood, Chad (I can't remember his last name.) However, Chad was into goth, and I just wanted to be me. I was NEVER allowed to just be me. 

Imagine being told for years that what was natural for you, simply having the feelings of attraction and/or love for another human being, that you were going to hell. Or that because of that love you feel for that other person made you worthless and should no longer be a member of the citizenry? I learned to LOVE and ACCEPT myself for WHO I am, and not for what you, your god, or the rest of society dictates or wishes. I am proud to be the loving, caring and proud gay man that I am.

Teenagers are kicked out of their homes every day because their parents can't deal with their child being gay or lesbian. 

I am not a Christian, nor do I wish to be. I am Agnostic. However, I have studied the Bible to a great extent during my numerous philosophy courses in college, and have found that it has been interpreted, and translated so many times, that it resembles nothing like its original transcripts. In fact, there is great debate surrounding the interpretation of many of the stories (ie Sodom and Gomorrah.)

You may not be prepared for this next part because it is pretty harsh. I say to my chosen family members (meaning friends – straight and gay,) if you don't feel that I should have the same freedoms, that I should not be granted the same rights in ALL areas of the law (ie marriage, freedom from discrimination in housing, the work place, etc. – just to name a few) then I really don't have the time in my life for that type of person. Have I lost "friends" due to my stance? Absolutely. However, I have become a much stronger person because I refuse to allow others to dictate how I live according to their worldview and religion.

Your religious freedom ends where my rights begin, and that is with the law! Your religious freedom may NOT infringe upon my rights under the law. Your religious beliefs are not allowed to dictate civil law. You are allowed, within your religious institution, to discriminate based on sexual orientation, but it won't be much longer that you will not be able to discriminate based on sexual orientation under the law. With each passing day, the law is catching up, and one day before I die, I WILL see this country finally live up to its promise of EQUALITY and JUSTICE for all its citizens.

If this response costs me another friend, so be it. But honestly, I'm not asking nor am I seeking your approval of how I live my life or who I fall in love with. To remain in my life I demand – and it is a demand – that my friends, if they truly are friends, accept the fact that I refuse to settle for ANYTHING less than the same legal rights, dignity and respect that they take for granted and expect from me.

As far as taking a chance on whether or not hell exists or not? If Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, James Dobson and the likes are the types of individuals I would have to look forward to in "heaven," then I'd chose hell ANYDAY!

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