A place at the tableMAIN POINTS:
Tom would love to spend the holiday with his family. Problem is, Tom's family doesn't welcome Albert, Tom's longtime partner. Tom and Albert will be spending the holidays with other gay and lesbian friends whose families are uncomfortable with their presence or have clearly rejected them due to their sexual orientation. Excluded from being with those whom they love because of something over which they have no control, the holidays are a stark reminder of how hurtful one's family can be. Tom and Albert claim to be "used to it," but in reality long for the acceptance and love that only one's family affords.
Unfortunately, in the name of defending the "family," some vocal Christians have declared that embracing a homosexual loved one is akin to aiding and abetting the "forces of darkness," casting doubt on one's own salvation. Little wonder that people of faith feel distressed in having to make what they perceive as a choice between loving God and loving their gay or lesbian child, sibling, or parent.
B. It is not an "either-or" proposition: not all Christians reject homosexuality as incompatible with the Christian faith
However, it's not an "either-or" proposition. Not all Christians reject homosexuality as incompatible with the Christian faith. It's true that some Christians maintain the stance that homosexuality is abominable and can quote several (meaning eleven) out-of-context Biblical citations to back up their claim. But using such prooftexts oversimplifies the issue, a favorite tactic employed in the inflammatory rhetoric of the Christian right. The Biblical texts quoted by many as the unquestionable and inerrant final word on the issue of homosexuality have many different and legitimate interpretations.
As Biblically-centered Protestants, we reject the homophobic position so vehemently proclaimed by some Christians. We believe that homosexuality is not a lifestyle choice nor a deviant urge reversible through earnest prayer and counseling. It is simply the way God has created some people. We advocate the welcoming of all -- regardless of their orientation -- because that is the message of the Gospel. Jesus brought a message of love and redemption from God to all who would accept it. Those who seek to love their gay or lesbian family member or friend should not feel bullied into rejecting those for whom they care by vocal extremists.
C. Rather than choose between God and their loved one, faithful Christians can turn to many churches and groups that support those who are gay and lesbian and their families.
Rather than choose between God and their loved one, faithful Christians can turn to many churches and groups that support those who are gay and lesbian and their families. There are a variety of movements within the mainstream denominations that advocate the acceptance of gays and lesbians in the life of the church. Even if a church is not officially designated by its denomination as one that is welcoming to gays and lesbians, there are many individuals and small groups with which one can affiliate and find support. Although not affiliated with any faith group, networks like PFLAG (Parents & Friends of Lesbians and Gays) is but one example of people joining together to support and care for one another as they struggle with intolerance and lack of information regarding homosexuality.
D. Don't spend another holiday regretting that empty seat at the table - open your heart in Christian love and know that you are not alone in the acceptance of your loved one as a beloved child of God.
Nothing angered the religious people of Js' day more than those with whom he chose to eat. He chose to have table fellowship with those whom the religious establishment had deemed unclean -- people the pious feared and rejected as unworthy of a place at the table. In our day, it is those on the Christian Right who have claimed to be arbiters of the moral high ground by declaring homosexuals unclean and unworthy of a place at the table. Families the world over will come to the holidays again this year threatened into excluding a loved one because of their sexual orientation, all in the name of Christian "righteousness."
Who will be absent from your table this holiday season? Who will be present but forced into maintaining a lie about who they are for fear that they will be rejected? Don't spend another holiday regretting that empty seat at the table - open your heart in confidence and love knowing that you are not alone in the acceptance of your gay or lesbian loved one as a beloved child of God. In this season of opening our wallets to so many who we don't know, let us open our hearts to those whom we do know, the gay or lesbian family member or friend who longs to be accepted for who they are by people whose love in the name of Jesus Christ is greater than their fear.
-- No Longer Silent
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