The next time you find yourself thinking or wondering about “choice” involved in sexual and family diversity, I invite you to shift the lens of your question a bit. Choices ARE made. Think about the choices that your LGBT family members, friends and neighbors make, and the courageous souls that make them.
Across the globe, we face death, imprisonment, family abandonment, religious excommunication, bullying, teen homelessness, job or housing loss, and the current realities of vastly inequitable social benefits. Across the U.S. we face cruel campaigns to end or preempt public discussions about marital rights, such as in the upcoming constitutional amendment in Minnesota.
Yet, we LGBT citizens choose to be and to talk and to share and to work for our common good. In Uganda and elsewhere, our brothers and sisters choose to face — potentially — the death penalty.
Yes, we make choices.
What lure to life and goodness, to authenticity and necessary human dignity would call us to endure such dangers? What convictions of personal need and promise of Divine blessing could be so worthy that we are willing to take up the cross of forging public space and enduring such shaming scrutiny in today’s world?
Of course there are choices being made! Christian Scripture calls this moral force “counting the cost.”
We do choose greater integration of soul and body when we build loving relationships with those whom we celebrate sexually.
We do choose greater honesty amid our communities by coming out, and by so doing we advance a more godly and objective understanding of creation’s diversity.
Those of us from conservative religious upbringings often come to a faith crisis in which we choose to place a greater trust in the God who transcends human bias than in the views of the day (even those passed on for some time). For me, it was choosing to trust Christ’s grace and the clear fruits of the Spirit known in my loving partnership.
And most of us choose to show up at work, at church, in volunteer responsibilities or to family obligations choosing to share our gifts and talents. If we’re somewhat out, that could mean discrimination or danger; if we’re not, we can accrue the burdens of hidden truths and divided lives.
Yet, the choice for love is always worth it. Discerned choices for honesty with loved ones and fellow citizens alike flow from love. It is good for us. We see the momentum of advancing social freedoms today in the U.S. There is an oxygen-like nature to such honesty. Perhaps this is what is so contagious that fearful opponents continue in panic to condemn. We are being honest about Creation’s vast diversity, the greatness of a God whose love takes many forms, and the liberation of releasing age-old sinful fears of self and other. What gifts for the well-being of all! What a privilege to choose these things.
LOVE stirs within us as we forge our lives in relationship to God, uphold and shape tradition, engage in meaningful milestone rituals, serve our nation, nurture and bless children and tirelessly engage in community service. LOVE stirs within us as we refuse to give up our dreams of a life fully lived in holy self-determination (Baptists call it soul liberty) and family obligations and blessings.
The courageous people pictured above deserve our respect and solidarity. Organizations like Other Sheep and The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission might be a good start for research and support.
You may not live in such a physically dangerous climate for LGBT people. You may not know through personal, first-hand experience what it is like to face such hostility from those who hate your very existence or are scandalized by your CHOICE to be honest and present to your Life. You may not know how fragile our gains seem to be, and that perhaps LGBT people in your life never feel completely safe and respected even here in the U.S. You can choose to listen and learn about this. You can choose to be our advocate in the public square even if you personally do not agree with our choices.
Perhaps in your current moral convictions, you feel same-sex relationships are inferior. Or, horrible. Or, dangerous. Given the weight of tradition handed down in many quarters, that is understandable. But you, too, have a choice.
Will you pass on prejudices unexamined in the light of testimony and grace? Or will you choose to allow your mind to be renewed?
Will you stand by silently as your loved ones, co-workers and neighbors battle against second-class citizenship (and its slippery slope)? Or will you choose to “love your neighbor as yourself”?
It is a choice.