Hey there. Look, I know it’s been awhile. But we’ve got a lot of history, you and I. I mean, you taught me pretty much everything I know, right? You raised me… the same Appalachian church week after week, Sunday School and flannelgraph Jesus, Joshua and Jericho, Rahab and her red rope. The Christian school that instructed me from kindergarten through my senior year. The classes & communions, my baptism, the hymns, the sermons, the youth group service projects and vacation Bible school, the summer camps. Even that senior year apologetics course where you taught me to defend my faith against the wolves in sheep’s clothing that were dying to get their paws on me. I know what you’re thinking: “Look at the investment we made in you!”
Then… I know, I know. I left. I turned 21, and it was “so long, suckers.” Got as far away as I could. I moved… to Reno, for crying out loud. A slap in your face. I mean, of all the places I could have gone – why did it have to be the pagan’s promised land? Brothels and gambling and… well, is there even anything else in Nevada besides nuclear fallout?
It would have been one thing had I moved there to be a missionary. Sure, things started out well… I started leading worship at a church. Then I joined a planting team to start a new church where it was needed most: California.
But it was a slippery slope downhill. Let’s face it: despite all the training you gave me, I wasn’t really prepared to handle the onslaught that awaited me on the west coast. The liberal media. Godless Hollywood. San Fran-freakin’-cisco? You didn’t train me for this stuff – you thought I was headed to Nashville to become Contemporary Christian Music’s next big songwriter!
Then… oh, man. The betrayal. The knife in your back. The… disease. I decided to become one of those abominations. You know. A fruit. A freak. A… queer.
That was when you knew you’d lost me. Another one bites the dust. Still, you had some hope right? I mean, nothing is impossible for God. He might yet get through. So you prayed.
“Keep him safe from earthquakes. Make sure he gets a decent job. And sweet Moses, send the kid a girlfriend.”
But it appeared to be too late. Before long I was volunteering for the Pride festival. Wearing rainbow t-shirts. Talking some nonsense about reconciling the church and LGBT community, as if that’s a real thing. Eventually, I went all in. Got a boyfriend. Left the church I helped start, and instead found one of those “affirming” portals to hell.
So, you had to let me go. Turn me over to my depraved ways, just like the Good Book instructs. But soon, something grabbed your attention. It was called Prop 8.
No way.. could it be? California voters just overturned gay marriage? Sure, it was a slim margin of victory and it’s since been ruled unconstitutional, but jumpin’ Jeremiah! If Californians would vote to outlaw gay marriage, why on earth wouldn’t we be doing the same thing? Never mind that it’s already illegal here!
So you set some plans in motion. Wrote a tricky little bit of legislation. Not like the reactionary and short-sighted Prop 8 bit. This was a full-on preemptive strike. Rewrite the state constitution, long before the gays ever get here with their dithering on about “marriage equality” and “love is never a sin” mumbo-jumbo. An intentionally misleading campaign, a few pastors preaching about the dangers of our daughters becoming too “butch” and… BOOM. Any potential civil rights for same-sex couples are smothered. (Same goes for unmarried heterosexual couples and widows, too, but hey – there are always casualties in a culture war!)
Anyway, that brings us to today. And why I’m writing you this letter. I just wanted to say that I’m sorry I didn’t turn out the way you’d intended. I know you had high hopes for me – high expectations, even. It’s nothing personal, you know. I mean sure, I was resentful for awhile. For everything you taught me, there was a lot you left out. Like, for instance, why it’s okay to demonize gay people based on an ancient text, but give a pass to people who eat shellfish, work on the Sabbath, and get divorced for reasons other than infidelity – even though the same text expressly forbids those things as well.
I’m not trying to point fingers. God knows I’ve had my share of whacked out, dumb-as-bricks moments too. Sins, you call them. Yep, I’m a sinner. I covet – a lot. I gossip and lie and I’m not humble and sometimes I keep eating even though I’m full. All of these things are wrong, and I know it.
But the whole “gay-is-sin” thing, I just gotta say… I can’t get on board with that one. Conscience, heart, experience, reality, spirit, relationships, and that little voice of God inside all tell me, loud and clear: there is nothing sinful about finding the same gender attractive, or choosing to spend your life with a same-sex partner. You probably don’t recognize any of those inputs as being valid guides for how we live our lives (as that’s another bit of experience I had to pick up elsewhere), but I do. Quite a few of us do, it turns out.
So, it’s just you, quoting a couple of verses in a Book that has been categorically misused, misinterpreted, and misrepresented throughout history, telling me otherwise – and frankly, there’s a lot of alternate commentary on the Book that’s worth a gander. (Do Carolinians still use that word?)
I guess, in the end, what I’m really writing to say is… it’s cool. We’re cool. Maybe not from your perspective, but from mine… let’s just say I have a lot of hope. Hope enough to outlast the impact of your bad, uninformed decisions – even hope enough to outstrip the ignorance, apathy, prejudice, tradition-for-tradition’s sake, and (sometimes) straight-up hate that cause them. And quite frankly, that’s something I don’t think I could have if it weren’t for all those years we spent together.
Who would have guessed, after everything we’ve been through, I’d still be able to learn one more thing from our relationship:
How to forgive.