I wanted to add one more thought from my previous post about why I say that I am gay as opposed to using the language of “struggle with homosexuality” or “struggle with same-sex attraction”…
This is going to sound vulgar and I do not mean it that way, but I follow the Nazi test when it comes to these identity issues.
Here is what I mean… the Nazis would consider me gay, would have slapped a pink triangle (next to my yellow star) on my chest, and marched me off to the concentration camp.
When I became a follower of Jesus at 17, many people said that means I was no longer Jewish. But I am and will always be. And I will never deny my Jewishness.
I remember as a kid in 4th grade (when I went to Hebrew day school) having a conversation with friends about whether we would admit to being Jewish if we were on a plane that was hijacked and we were asked (in the 1980’s, this was not a crazy hypothetical question). My answer was that YES, I would acknowledge it and step up — even if that meant death.
Because too many people have been killed simply for being Jewish — including many in my own family.
Whether it is about solidarity or justice or something else… I think this is an important issue. So no matter how many people tell me I am not Jewish (or shouldn’t cling to that identity now that I am a Christian) I will always be identified as a Jewish Christian. Period.
Likewise, the LGBT community continues to be one of the most discriminated against and hated in our society. There are few groups left in our society that it is considered OK to openly mock, make jokes about, or discriminate against. And violence against the LGBT community is on the rise. And the truth be told, churches and Christians are culpable for much if this — if not through action, their inaction.
And one of the things that make this kind of bigotry easier for churches and Christians is that gays are “other” (as, by the way, are Jews… making anti-semitism an ongoing issue in the church… but that is a topic for another time.)
It is easy to hate the “other”. It is OK to turn the other way when the “other” is abused or the victim of injustice. The church can continue to ignore the issue as long as the issue is about “others” — not our kids, not our friends, not our church.
I think the group this rubs off on — and damages — more than any other is teenagers. Gay teens know how the church feels about them… and they know how their parents feel about them… and they may not know a single person who is gay and trying to follow Jesus with integrity… they feel totally OTHER.
And for me to play word games about my situation is a way of saying “don’t label me with the others” — which reinforces the otherness of these people. And to do so is to be part of the injustice and the bigotry that is destroying lives and damaging the witness and testimony of our churches.
So I declare that I am OTHER. And by openly being OTHER, it is one way to remind people that OTHER isn’t as OTHER as we like to think.
So if you want to make fun of or mock or hate gays. That is fine, but just know that you are making fun of and mocking and hating me. If you want to paint gays as somehow less than fully human or pretend that they are merely victims of sinful sexual fetishes or whatever… that is fine. Just know that you are saying those things about me. And I’m not as OTHER as you want me to be…
I identify with the OTHER because I am the OTHER — and because I believe that Jesus would identify with the OTHER too.
I hope that makes sense and I hope you will give some thought to how we treat “others” in the community of Jesus Christ, the church.