Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Maintaining convictions

An anonymous person commented on my blog post Love the sinner - hate the sin with the following question:
I'd like some input. I firmly believe the opposite, that homosexuality is wrong by God's standards. But I also believe that we should not judge, exactly as you have posted. That saying "love the sinner hate the sin" has always seem wrong. I agree we should all respect each other and let God judge. It's not our place. I'm willing to do that. But I still believe that homosexuality is wrong. How do I allow treat a homosexual person with the respect they want, but at the same time pass on my convictions to my children? This question may come across badly. I want to allow everyone the freedome to live their lives the way they want, but I want my convictions, that I feel deeply about to be passed to my children. How would you suggest I do this?
I believe this is a very good question - and one that deserves some thought and discussion.  In fact, I invite other bloggers to post their thoughts on this topic as well.

The issue, as I see it, is how can someone maintain their conviction that homosexuality (more specifically, homosexual intimacy) is wrong - yet love and accept their homosexual family, friends, and associates?  A corollary question might be:  How far should that acceptance extend?  For example, should you extend your love and acceptance to the homosexual partner?

I suppose an even more basic question is:  Is it even possible to love and accept a homosexual while maintaining a conviction that homosexual intimacy is wrong?

I believe the answer is "yes" - it is possible - and, in fact, required by Christian teachings - to love and accept those whose lives are contrary to that which we believe to be correct.  The simple fact of the matter is that we all know people who do things that we believe are wrong, dumb, or stupid.  And, it goes both ways.  For example, there are those who believe it is wrong for me to accept myself as a homosexual while being married to a woman; there are others who believe it is wrong for me to remain married to a woman now that I accept myself as a homosexual.  And, it certainly isn't limited to sexual behavior.  We may believe people are wrong because they drink alcohol, smoke, or live beyond their means.  We may think people are wrong to believe in God - or not to believe in God.

Just because someone has some aspect in their lives we believe to be wrong doesn't me we can't love and accept them - even consider them a close friend.  It would be a very lonely life if we only associated with those whose beliefs and actions were 100% in line with our own.

But, is there a line between what we can and cannot accept?  For example, if a parent accepts their gay son who lives at home - does that mean they should allow him to bring home a different boy every night to have sex with?

A few thoughts:

First, there is a difference between accepting and condoning. Just because you accept a family member and/or friend as gay doesn't mean you must also condone their behavior.

Second, there is a difference between how a parent should treat a 16 year old son still in high school and a 20 year old son in college.  When our children are under 18 we have a legal responsibility for them.  Once they turn 18 they are legally adults - and need to be treated as such.  As a parent of adult children, I've learned that while I may not agree with all of the decisions my children make - I do need to respect their decisions.

Third, we have a right to dictate what happens in our own home.  For example, I know people who smoke and/or drink - but I don't allow it in my home.  I do allow smokers to step outside the house to smoke on my property - I just don't want it inside the house because of the smell.  But, I don't allow alcohol on my premises - either inside or out.  Likewise, I think it perfectly acceptable for parents to not allow activities in their home which they believe to be wrong (e.g. sex between unmarried couples).  For example, if a heterosexual son brings home a girlfriend to visit, I think it acceptable for parents to insist they sleep separate rooms - the same could be said for a gay son who brings home a boyfriend.

Fourth, we need to take into consideration the level of commitment that a gay child or friend has with their partner. For example, if a gay child/friend has a boyfriend with whom they are not living with - I think it fair to treat them the same as if they had a girlfriend to whom they were not married; that is, you could insist they not sleep in the same room in your home (even if you know they are sexually active).  However, if they are in a committed monogamous relationship having gone through a ceremony of sorts to declare their commitment to one another - and would be married if it were a legal option available to them - then I think it fair and right to treat them as a married couple - even if you are morally against such unions.  In the not too distant past, some considered interracial marriage as immoral - yet they still had the same rights and privileges as other married couples.

Anyway, these are my thoughts - I invite others to blog about their thoughts and ideas.


Gay Saint said...

To the person posing the question:

I remember an experience I had in elementary school. We were shown the movie “Sleeping Beauty.” In this movie, there is a court jester, who gets drunk with the kings in celebration of the marriage of Prince Phillip to Princess Aurora. I remember coming home from school and talking about this with my mother.

My mom taught me a great lesson in only 5 words. She simply said, “Well, that jester isn’t Mormon.”

Even in my five or six year old mind, I suddenly realized that I didn’t have to endorse or support a particular behavior, even though my mom still loved and supported all our aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. who drank (and yes, even let me watch “Sleeping Beauty”). Now, some parents would have called the school, berating the principal for letting her child be indoctrinated with the idea that drinking is ok (and how many times has this happened with gay issues?), but instead, she taught me the morals she wished to instill upon me at home, while respecting the rights of everyone else to do as they saw fit as “non-Mormons.”

Now my mom isn’t perfect, and we’ve had issues since I’ve come out, obviously. She has had a hard time respecting my partner and me. But one thing I know for sure is that she had taken the time to at least UNDERSTAND why I have made the choices that I have – and that seems to help a lot.

Hopefully you can see the simplicity in the “Sleeping Beauty” lesson, and hopefully it will help. Your example of how you treat people who believe differently than you do while still maintaining your moral convictions will be a great asset to your children.

And, of course, putting that into action by getting to know some of us, whether online or in person, so that you have the opportunity to truly love a gay person, will help (if you aren’t in a position for that already).

Daniel said...

Do you believe that drinking alcohol is wrong? Or coffee? What about smoking? Working on Sunday?

People do things that you probably believe are wrong all the time. Think about all the people you interact with each day, and then think about all the things they do that you choose not to do because of your convictions. I would suggest you treat gay people the same way you treat all of them.

The biggest thing someone against homosexuality can do to respect me is to keep their disapproval to themselves (in the same way that I don't criticize the religions of my friends). Being friendly and interacting with people we may disagree with isn't condoning their behavior, it is simply how we much exist in a pluralistic society. If you can't interact with others respectfully, you won't be much of a happy person. I think you will find that you already know how to respect people who are different from yourself, you just have to realize that gay people are no different from those people.

Trevor said...

I would comment on here, but I think Im going to do a post on it! Thanks for the good thought!

J G-W said...

I've posted my thoughts on this here.

Sean (Loyalist) said...

I love what JG-W posted! :)

Sean said...

I think if we are truly Christian we need to engage in the same manner as Jesus did. That was, with out exception, the practice of "unconditional love." It is, according to the Bible, the greatest commandment after loving the Lord.

In practice however, many Christians, and most certainly Mormons, don't seem to be capable of such a thing. As soon as the "but" enters in to the equation it is no longer unconditional. "I love you but I disagree with what you are doing." That is not unconditional love. Letting any sort of judgment or weighing of another individuals choices against your own is also not right or showing said unconditional love.

As soon as any of these things happens we are in error and are deviating from what the message was. If anyone is really "trying to be like Jesus" they will simply love and not let any of the rest of their judgment enter the picture or even their thoughts. Then perhaps progress will be made.

Anonymous said...

It is very confusing to believe deeply in one direction and accept outwardly the opposite , without arguments. It is hard for the mind to accept contradictions of logic. If a man is gay it is not right to pretend he is not gay in our relations with him. The problem with your church is that it includes too much of one spiritually and psychologically. If you the nest leave of severe social reinforcement you will wilt away, sans friends and soul. Your church needs more honesty. You should confront this terrible conflict and change. It leads you in the wrong direction, for example, political action in California. This rigidity will eventually bring down the church. I swear, bit by bit, inch by inch
it will crumble away.


Anonymous said...

Hey guys, organized religion cannot give you answers because it is made to be absolute without exception else the flock wander away. In AA it is taught to find your own God, as YOU understand him. All the kicking, yelling and preaching won't keep an alcoholic sober. As soon as he finds HIS God the miracle happens - he recovers.