But the man was not physically demonstrative to the girl. She always initiated kissing, and it seemed that the act was a chore for him. She began to wonder what was wrong with her. She felt undesirable and sometimes she was made to feel like a letch because she wanted any kind of physical intimacy, even though it was just kissing. She felt demoralized. Over time, though, it became clear that this particular man did like men but did not want to admit it. He was religious and viewed homosexuality as a sin. He was using the unwitting girl as a beard. Maybe he was even attempting to reform himself.
The girl was dismayed at his dishonesty and disheartened because, had he just been honest with her, they could have been friends. Instead, she felt repulsed by his disingenuousness and broke off all contact with him. But the experience damaged her. From that time on, whenever she met a religious guy with “feminine” qualities, she had a doubt in the back of her mind as to his sexuality. She knew on an intellectual level that there are plenty of guys in the world who don’t fit the “macho guy” mold and yet are heterosexual. But on a subconscious level, she feared repeating her mistake, and it hobbled her subsequent interactions with some men.
The girl in the story was me. In fact, I still feel shame at having been in the relationship to begin with, that I ignored my gut instinct. It is a difficult story to tell. It’s difficult to realize that you’re damaged and not really know how to fix it. While I was angry at the guy I dated, most of my anger became directed at the church for the way it handles the issue of homosexuality. That is, in general, it does not act very Christ-like. The environment of hate and hostility, of turning homosexuals into total pariahs is shameful. We damage our souls and our witness when we spew vitriol and condemn. This hostile environment that keeps people closeted and leads some to enter into straight relationships in order to gain acceptance from the church community, creates problems like the one I encountered. It isn’t fair to either party. Even worse, it repels people from the church. External attacks on the church are nothing compared to the job we’re doing of being anti-Christ ourselves.
This week Exodus International announced it is shutting down, and the SCOTUS just struck down DOMA. My challenge to the church is to monitor your behavior in the wake of these events. I don’t care what your views are on homosexuality. I care that my LGBTQ friends are shown the love of Christ, not the church’s condemnation.