A few weeks ago, there was an interesting sequence of events. Our teen group was talking about gender issues. One of the conclusions they came to was that sin is sin. They shouldn’t treat LGBT students any differently than they would anyone else. It was a good discussion. Then came a story from Florida. The Florida legislature passed a bill that ensured a Christian-based adoption agency would not be forced to offer children for adoption to same-sex couples. I understand the basis of the bill. To the adoption agency, it is a matter of religious freedom. Because they view homosexuality as a sin, accepting a same-sex couple would be against their religious beliefs. They shouldn’t be forced to do something that goes against their religious beliefs.
But going back to the discussion we had the night before, if sin is sin, and all sin is the same in God’s eyes, and we shouldn’t treat them any differently than anyone else, then how can we as Christians decide a particular sin precludes a person from being able to adopt a child? Are we saying that a gay person would not be a good parent? Do we ask heterosexual couples wanting to adopt what sins they struggle with? We aren’t assuming they don’t have any sin in their lives, are we? Are we saying that their sin isn’t as bad as the gay couple’s sin? Obviously, there are exceptions. We wouldn’t allow someone with a history of violence to adopt a child (or a pet, for that matter). But all things being equal – character references, job history, income, housing, education, etc. – aren’t we just being prejudicial if we say a person is unfit to parent based on their sexual preference?
Maybe I am an enigma in the Christian community. I have several gay friends, not just people I know who are gay, but actual friends. We do lunch and stuff. Some of these friends have stood by me and even bailed me out of some difficult situations. They have encouraged me, picked me up when I’ve been down. They are friends I have counted on. I have been happy for the privilege of writing recommendation letters for them for jobs or volunteer positions. I have watched them work with children, and I believe if they wanted to be parents, they would do an excellent job.
I am pretty sure that most Christians would say a gay person should not be discriminated against when it comes to housing, jobs, health insurance, etc. So why do we draw the line with children? We don’t want them as scout leaders, and we certainly don’t want them to be parents. But why? Have we asked ourselves? My guess is we must think that gay people surely must be pedophiles. Not true. At least not any more true than heterosexuals. “It’s not them, it’s their lifestyle.” What does that mean? I met my gay friends doing the things that I do. Their “lifestyle” includes Starbucks coffee, long days at work, helping kids with homework, walking the dog, making dinner, paying bills while watching This Is Us, and collapsing into bed, exhausted. Sounds a lot like my lifestyle.
Unfortunately, I am afraid that Christians have the same overreaction to gays that gays do to Christians, at least the ones who make the news. From what we see and read, gay people tend to think of Christians as hateful hypocrites. Christians tend to think of gay people as deviant predators. What if we took a look at each other, starting with the ‘each others’ we know. The gay people I know are really nice people who are fun to be around. I’m pretty sure they would say the same about the Christians in their lives. (At least I hope so, since I’m one of them.)
When I first saw the Florida ruling on Facebook, it was posted by my cousin who is gay and is also an adoptive parent. One of the comments she made was “Christians need to stop hiding their prejudice behind their religion.” The more I thought about that, the more I wondered if it is true. I thought about my cousin as a parent. She adopted a little boy with special needs. She had cared for him as his physical therapist since his birth. In adopting him, she knew he would be her whole life: from brain shunt to feeding tube and a future where the only certainty would be numerous surgeries and learning disabilities. Her son is now 19 years old, and I can’t imagine anyone who could have done a better job raising him. He recently started eating real food and has discovered a love of hamburgers. He also loves boxing and monster trucks. His mom takes him to a gym where he has excelled in their boxing program. And he has won enough medals at Special Olympic competitions to make Michael Phelps jealous. Maybe the best thing, he always has a smile on his face.
After thinking on this for a couple of weeks, I finally had to ask, “Are Christians homophobic?” That accusation and characterization has been leveled against Christians for decades, and I always felt it was unfounded and false. But the more I think about how Christians treat those who are different from us, the more I wonder if it may be true.