Let me put this out there right away:
I don't have all the answers...or maybe even any of the answers.
That being said, let me give a little history. Ever since I was in high school, I thought I knew exactly what I believed about homosexuality. When I was a sophomore, my best friend at the time came out to me. I was the first person he came out to, and it was an incredibly sensitive and difficult time for him. Unfortunately though, instead of supporting and caring for him, I gave him material on how not to be gay (cue the eyerolls and headshakes). When he stood in my doorway a couple weeks later telling me that he needed my support because he couldn't change, I simply told him I couldn't support him (please don't misunderstand my intentions, though. That was the hardest thing I've ever had to do). Since then, my relationship with him has been up and down, and at the moment is non-existent.
I cannot tell you how much I regret what I did during that time. I tried to love him. I thought I was loving him by telling him I couldn't support him. I had been there for him during a time when he almost committed suicide, and I thought this was my way of being there for him through his homosexuality.
I was so, so wrong.
When I was in high school, I believed that homosexuality was a changeable thing - that if the person prayed and trusted God, he would change their desires and make them heterosexual. Sigh. I'm angry at Past-Bethany for that, so all of you are free to be angry with her as well. However - since then, I've realized that things are not that simple, and they may not be what I originally thought.
I recently watched the movie, "Saved." That movie is incredibly difficult for me to see, because it shows me just how much the Church has failed. It brings out all the stereotypes and perceptions that culture has on us, and it makes me nauseated. One of the first things shown is a high school boy who confesses to his girlfriend that he thinks he's gay. After she unsuccessfully tries to make him straight (because it's what Jesus told her to do), his parents send him off to a place called "Mercy House" in order to "rehabilitate" him.
Also, this isn't just fiction. My friend from high school... His parents sent him to the Dominican Republic for 8 months in order to get the "gay" out of him (unsurprisingly, it didn't work). These things happen in reality, and it is so upsetting. Because of so many things I've experienced the last 7 years, I've realized one thing:
Homosexuality isn't changeable, and just because someone is gay or lesbian doesn't mean that they are disqualified from being saved. It doesn't mean they are automatically running away from God, and it doesn't mean that they are automatically living in sin simply because they're gay.
From my interpretation of Scripture, I personally don't agree with same-sex partnerships. However... Recently I have met many people (and read their blogs) who live it, but confess Christ as their Savior. What do I say, then? Do I tell them they're not really saved because they have a same-sex partnership? Do I tell them they shouldn't be going to my church? Do I tell them that I'm praying for them to see the "truth"?
I recently had a conversation with a friend, and when I told her I didn't know where I stood on the issue of homosexuality, she simply told me, "It's not an issue. They're people."
I have always, always said that as long as my fellow Christians and I confess Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, nothing else matters. I believe it is true with these things as well.
I don't know everything. I don't have all the answers. I'm not an expert on homosexuality. I don't know God's thoughts. I have my interpretation of Scripture, but there are a lot of areas of Scripture that are debated today. Homosexuality is just one of them.
People treat homosexuality as if it is the worst thing that Christians can talk about or have a different stance on in regards to the Bible. They treat it as if it's the worst sin a Christian can commit, and there's no way the LGBT community can enter into heaven.
But here's the thing: there are no strings attached to salvation. No, we don't have all the answers to what's right and what's wrong. I do believe that absolute truth exists, but I also know that I may not know all of what Truth is. I am extremely fallible, finite, and...well... human. I make mistakes all the time, and I have been proven wrong many times on many different things I have believed. This life is a journey - no one has all the answers. Some Christians believe same-sex partnerships are okay, and some believe it's not. Some gay Christians choose to live that way, and some choose to be chaste.
It's really, really easy to have an opinion on topics when we're really far removed from it. It wasn't until I was actually faced with my beliefs that I realized I may not have all the answers. It wasn't until I lost my best friend that I realized I wasn't nearly as loving as I should've been. I was trying to be loving, but ostracizing a person is never okay.
Whether I agree with the other person or not, here's what's important: love. I am called to love my neighbor. I am called to love everyone, regardless of gender, race, age, sexual orientation, etc. This doesn't mean that I forsake my beliefs, but there are so, so many better ways to communicate with others. I've talked to a couple gay friends recently, and the fact alone that I am willing to say I don't know everything made all the difference in the world.
Because the truth is, I don't know everything, and I don't have all the answers. No one does. We will never have all the answers until we are with Christ. Even then I'm unsure whether or not we'll have all the answers. So why do we act like we know everything now? We can have our beliefs - we can even be firm in those beliefs. But we absolutely need to have humility and love.
I know I'm repeating myself here, but it is so, so important to remember those two things. I know I have a lot of work to do. I know that far too often I'm arrogant and unloving. But this is something I want to change. I want to do right by my neighbors. I want to be known for my love.
We are human, and we are imperfect. But I know that if we can just acknowledge that to ourselves, we will be in a far, far better place for open discussion and peace with one another than we ever have been.
And to my high school friend:
I am so, so sorry for the way I treated you. I was blind, and I was arrogant. You needed to truly be loved and supported during that time, and I failed you. I was too focused on my legalism and left no room for reality. Friend, I don't have all the answers. As much as I think I know what I believe, I have no right to push you away or ostracize you. You are a person, and you are incredibly valuable. I miss you. I miss the friendship we used to have. I wish I could take back everything I said and did to you that was incredibly unloving. I hope one day you can forgive me for how awful I was, but I understand why you pulled away from me. I love you, Friend. As horrible as I have been at showing it, I love you - and that will never change.