I’m really going to go out on a limb here. Not one of those thick, sturdy limbs that can handle all of my 190 pounds, OK, fine “200” pounds…whatever. Jeez. Let’s not get nitpicky. This post is going to place me in a not-so-comfortable position. But I’m ready. I think.
Not all Christians are bad. OK, so the uncomfortable part is that I have a very diverse readership (Can you call 30 readers a “readership?”), and a good portion of them are Christians. And, they probably don’t appreciate the backhanded compliment. But, to those readers, the ones for whom I am always trying to soften my anti-religious sentiments, I apologize. I do like you. Most of you, anyway.
It’s been a rough road, leaving the Church. For those of you who are not Christians or religious, try to imagine removing a crucial part of your life–albeit one you’re ready to remove–and the void that remains. For me it was like removing a malignant tumor. It had to be removed in order for me to be healthy, but it created a huge empty space. And the surgery left a prominent scar that easily can be noticed when you talk to me. I work hard at applying a good cover-up. But, at least I can say that the wound is healing nicely.
Since I have left, I have tended to turn Christians into villains. These days I view myself as being pretty far to the left. So, it doesn’t take too much work to find a reason to dislike someone on the opposite side of the fence. Before the age of the internet (i.e. – Facebook, MySpace, Blogging) I would probably never have reconnected with any old Christian friends. I mean, I live in San Francisco and could pretty much segregate myself for the rest of my life here. But, that would be stupid. In order to truly move on in a healthy way, I have to work through it.
So, as a result, 42% of my Facebook friends are from my Bible College days. I’ve spent a lot of time rehashing the last 10 years with them. And, I have to say that I’ve been surprised by the response from most of my old friends. With a few exceptions, my old friends have been supportive. It hasn’t been all accusatory and hateful like I expected.
What got me thinking about all this was Don Miller. Up until 3 days ago, I had never heard of him. He gave the closing prayer at the Democratic National Convention on the first night. I pretty much blew him off. Then, my fellow blogger and twitterer Amy Storms (who may never talk to me again after this post), made note of him and I decided to check him out. He’s a Christian author who is supporting Barack Obama. I know that this really doesn’t tell you who he is, but I included a link on his name so you can check him out if you want. My point is–and it has only taken me six paragraphs to get to it–he represents a pleasantly unusual group of Christians that are going to vote for Barack Obama.
It really is more than that, though. I listened to several of his interviews online and found him to be extremely refreshing. He wants to be treated with respect, so he is treating us with respect. I’m not saying that we will see him marching down the street with a rainbow flag anytime soon, but this is one Christian that actually looks at the gay marriage debate through constitutional eyes, not religious eyes. And, the same with abortion. He calls any abortion a tragic decision, and wants to stop needless abortions, but, does not want to take away a woman’s right to choose. Granted, this last item is a summary of what I gathered online, so I hope I’m not overstating it.
So, finally, in conclusion, and I know you are ready for the “conclusion,” I’ve noticed this from other Christian friends. They are great people. I may not agree with their religious and spiritual belief systems, but, that does not mean that we can’t be friends and respect each other. There is more to a person than just their religious and spiritual beliefs. And it would be a shame to shut someone out solely based on those differences. So, since I can’t stand to be lumped into a stereotypical group of gay left-wing liberals (which I am), I’m going to be open minded about Christians. And, to those who continue to insult me because of my beliefs and my sexual orientation, for now I am going to turn the other cheek. Because, quoting Don Miller, “It’s the only way.” We will never be unified otherwise.