Thursday, 17 March 2011
I recently blogged about the latest episode of Lisa Ling's new show, Our America. The episode was entitled "Pray the Gay Away?" and discussed the issue of faith and homosexuality: can the two coexist? In my previous post I reviewed the first half of the episode in which Ling talked to Christians who reject their same-sex attractions in pursuit of what they consider God's best for their lives; in this post, I'll examine Ling's coverage of Christians who embrace their homosexuality. Once again, you can view the entire episode online.
Contrasting her interview with Alan Chambers, current president of Exodus International, Ling also spoke with Michael Bussee, one of the original founders of Exodus who has since left the organization and pursued a gay relationship with another man. When he talked about his decision to leave Exodus, he brought up some sobering realities -- mainly, the severe depression rampant among Christians wrestling with their homosexual attractions. Through tears, Bussee spoke vividly of how one particular man mutilated his body after a sexual encounter with another man. Gut-wrenching.
Bussee saw same-sex attracted Christians falling apart around him and realized his sexuality weren't changing; so when he started falling in love with another man, he stopped fighting his attractions and finally embraced them.
But that doesn't mean he ditched God in the process. When asked whether he thought he and his partner were living in sin, Bussee responded he didn't feel his life was "interesting enough" to be considered sin -- meaning that aside from the genders, he considered his marriage just like any other. A partnership built on love between two people.
Too often Christians will lambaste homosexual relationships and decry them as abominations without love. But to point at this issue from the outside and shout, "That's lust, not love!" is both hasty and hateful. Gay people are capable of love too; these are human beings, not despicable monsters.
Bussee explained that his being gay and being Christian are so ingrained that to deny either would cause an "unbearable split." Being gay, he believes, is part of God's wonderful diversity in nature, and by embracing both his sexuality and his faith, he's found wholeness.
I look back to when Ling asked Chambers whether he thought he was living a lie amid his marriage to a woman. As with Chambers, I repeat of anyone wanting to judge Bussee: who is anyone to tell another his life is a lie? He's reconciled this issue with God and experienced what he calls wholeness. As with anyone, his life is God's to judge alone; our job is to love.
Supplementing her visit to an Exodus conference, Ling also traveled to a camp-like retreat led by The Naming Project, an organization seeking "to provide a safe and sacred space where youth of all sexual orientations and gender identities are named and claimed by a loving God." I believe with all my heart that God does love homosexuals, contrary to what some insane "Christian" protesters with hateful signs declare. But as I considered the truth of God's love, I couldn't help thinking back to a line in Max Lucado's Just Like Jesus:
"God loves you just the way you are, but He refuses to leave you that way."
Yes, there are thousands upon thousands living with homosexual attractions, either fueled by their environments or ingrained within from birth. God loves each and every one of them -- but does His love simply stop there? What if He does have something better in store and doesn't want to leave any of us "just the way we are"?
My heart breaks for those kids at The Naming Project who have undoubtedly been verbally/emotionally blasted beyond what any human should ever experience -- especially from within the Church.
The Church. The Body of Christ.
How could the hands and feet of Christ possibly be used to mutilate these confused hurting souls? It blows my mind. But then, I have my own flaws within this same Body and haven't always responded to others with love. After hearing these tear-drenched stories, I pray I'll respond more and more with God's love.
Ling summed up her show with the observation that everyone she interviewed on this journey was seeking the same basic thing: acceptance. Acceptance from God, acceptance from loved ones and acceptance from themselves. Isn't this what we all strive for, regardless of our struggle? Don't we all just want to be accepted and loved? I find it heartbreaking that so many people desperately desire acceptance today.
I thought Alan Chambers's closing words were incredible, as he didn't condemn people like Michael Bussee or those at The Naming Project. "God's after our heart," he stated, asserting that those whose hearts are God's would certainly join him in heaven someday, regardless.
We hear so much about gay marriage in the news today, but how often do we hear about homosexuality within the Church? Christians deal with homosexuality too, and I hope the Church starts addressing this issue more. May we all be challenged to love a little more today. As my favorite musical group Casting Crowns soberly addresses:
If we are the Body, why aren't His arms reaching? Why aren't His hands healing? Why aren't His words teaching? Why aren't His feet going?
Let's reach. Let's heal. Let's teach.
If you watched the entire Our America episode, what are your thoughts on it? Do you think Ling did a fair job covering both sides of the issue? Do you think the Church judges more than loves when it comes to this controversial issue of homosexuality? How can we all be more loving to people affected by homosexuality?