From Homophobe to Straight Ally – Part 4
BY Hugh Hollowell
This is the fourth and final post in a four part series in which Hugh Hollowell shares his journey from homophobe to straight ally. We will publish one part of his story each week, so you may want to subscribe to our RSS feed so you don’t miss anything.
Back in the first installment of this series, I told you I had spent time believing all three major beliefs about homosexuality, which is true. However, I spent the most time at phase two: believing that homosexual orientation was OK, but homosexual actions were sin. As I described in my last post, I felt pretty good about my position here.
After all, it seemed so…Biblical – you know, loving the sinner but hating the sin. It seemed like the best of both worlds: I got to relate to my gay friends and yet keep a “Christian” witness against sin. I got to be acceptable to both groups. I could tell my gay friends that I loved them (and I did), even if I disagreed with what they did in their bedrooms and I got to tell my Christian friends that my hanging out with gay people was just my being like Jesus… you know, being all relational. Hell, some of them even admired me for being so inclusive. I had carved out a safe place for myself. I had just forgotten two things: Following Jesus is never safe, and it is never all about me.
In my quest to find a theology I could live with, I had neglected to find a theology my gay friends could live with. It was all about my fears, my issues, my desires. I wish I could tell you I came to this all on my own, but I did not. It took a friend to make it starkly clear to me.
We were talking about gay marriage. I was against it and he was for it, which surprised me, since he was very active in his church. I asked him how he justified it.
He told me about a gay co-worker, who’s partner often came to office parties and so on. He told me how happy they looked and how in love they seemed.
“One day it occurred to me that if I was to convert her to what I understood Christianity to be, I would be asking her to choose between loving God and loving her partner. And I realized that if I had to choose between my wife and my God, then either way, I lose.”
You could have knocked me over with a feather. I suddenly realized that my stance of loving the homosexual while hating what they do was not quite so loving. After all, we were not talking about telling someone with an alcohol problem to stop drinking, or telling someone who is cheating on their spouse to stop. No, we were telling two people expressing their love and sexuality in a monogamous relationship that in order to love God, they could not love each other. And I decided I could no longer be a part of that.
This may not be convincing to you. If not, I understand, since it would not have been convincing to me a few years earlier. After all, there are still those six verses in the Bible everyone loves to trot out. But, there are verses in the Bible that affirm slavery and misogyny, and we manage to get past them. And yes, there is a long tradition of the church being against homosexuality. But the church has a long history of ignoring science and burning heretics at the stake, but most of us have decided they were wrong on both counts. And I know some are convinced that every word in the Bible is literally true, although I am yet to have someone like that explain where Ms. Cain came from (Genesis 4:17) or why Luke and Paul disagree about most of what Paul did.
To tell you the truth, I am still not sure about those six verses, although there is good scholarship suggesting we have traditionally misunderstood them. However, I am quite sure that the rest of the Bible overwhelmingly tells us that God hears the cry of the oppressed and that God is the very expression of love itself.
I cannot tell you what to believe. I can only tell you what I have come to believe: That a God who hears the cry of the oppressed cannot desire for me to be an oppressor. That a God who is the very expression of love cannot want me to deny others the ability to love. And that if I am going to love God in the way of Jesus, it means that, when I am not sure, I will ere on the side of love.
Hugh Hollowell is a writer, speaker and urban minister in Raleigh, NC. He is the founder of Love Wins Ministries, an organization that seeks to demonstrate the love of Jesus to all those society would leave behind.