I didn't understand then why he responded with hostility and was sure I didn't love him at all. Wasn't the most loving thing to save his soul from hell?
Then for our folks' 50th anniversary, our dad begged me to be nice and for us to get along. Dad obviously didn't think I was being very loving either.
Around that time, something occurred to me: all the arguments over whether God condemned that lifestyle, along with many others, were totally settled, at least by the time the New Testament was written; and so it was not a matter for me to judge. And I started saying things like, "God is as concerned about heterosexual sin as homosexual sin." For some reason, my gay friends responded more positively to that than my straight friends did. And I felt more free to express love to my gay friends than before, without regard to my opinions on the acceptability of their lifestyle.
A few years ago, I was asked to mediate a dispute in another city arising out of a lesbian's death. Her family had impounded all her belongings and those of her surviving lesbian partner. These family members were evangelical Christians, and justified their stealing the surviving partner's property on the grounds that "God condemned that lifestyle." I thought, "God condemns theft too," but I had to be impartial as a mediator, so I didn't say that to them. Somehow, that family came to see that their theft was wrong, without me cramming it down their throats, and the case settled.
I've thought about that mean-spirited family often in connection with the current debate over gay marriage. A lot of mean-spirited fellow Christian friends of mine are saying God condemns that lifestyle, without giving much thought to what they might be doing that God also condemns.
One of the arguments they use is that somehow the gay lifestyle is threatening their own marriages. I frankly don't get it, because man-woman marriage has been in trouble in America long before anybody ever thought of gay marriage. How could something that happened later cause a trend that started earlier? It's time for Christian Americans to get the logs out of their own eyes before we tweezer the splinters in others' eyes.
I believe marriage, per se, may not be many gays' primary goal, but sociological studies show gays want some way to stabilize their relationships; and from a public-policy point of view, why isn't it better for them to stay home with a permanent partner? And because they've been hassled like that evangelical family treated their lesbian daughter's surviving partner, gays want some kind of legal protection against that kind of hatefulness. In other words, the evangelical gay-haters have in some ways brought this issue of gay civil unions, or whatever, upon themselves.
Now, I don't particularly approve of gay marriage, and believe God ordained marriage as one man and one woman for life, if we can somehow preserve it. But, until we heterosexuals are willing to outlaw our own sexual sins again, I don't think we have any credibility outlawing someone else's.
So I ask, simply, why can't we just leave the gays and lesbians alone? Gay marriage is obviously a political wedge issue. We need desperately to bring this Iraq mess to an honorable end, if possible, get our economy back in shape, and provide better-paying jobs and health care to our workers, instead of arguing over gay marriage - for goodness sake!
Besides, when you get hateful towards a group, you end up over-reacting and doing stupid things. Like voting for Republicans, who have no intention of really outlawing gay-anything, and who laugh cynically at the gay bars over how easily some religious people are suckered to vote for them over the wedge issues. Hint: think Karl Rove.
*Dave Haigler is a Texas Attorney, Mediator, Arbitrator, and Political Activist. Dave's bio & list of writings is found starting at: http://haigler.info/page10.html. His email is Dave@Haigler.info. He edits http://demlog.blogspot.com, http://abi-demian.info and http://abilenewednesdayrotary.blogspot.com.