In the church, homosexuality is a hard thing to talk about. And I think one of the main reasons for this, and one of the main reasons it’s such a divisive topic in general, is because it seems to set at odds two of the greatest values that we as people tend to hold dear: faith and human dignity.
In this case, “faith” is the Christian faith, and more specifically, loyalty to our sacred text, the Bible. I do believe there is an unvoiced fear among many conservative Christians that to stand on the same side as the LGBT community (in anything) would mean being unfaithful to God.
But for advocates of same-sex equality — some of them Christians, too, some from other faiths, and some from no faith at all — the value at play is no less important and no less animating. There’s no putting a price on human dignity. And for them, a vote against LGBTs means a vote in favor of a non-racial apartheid — of fundamentally classifying and treating one group of people differently than others — and they won’t stand for it.
With so much at stake, it’s only natural that the fights would be bitter and bloody and personal. And it’s only natural that the environment created by such fights would be one in which it’s very difficult to have a productive conversation. How can you, when the lines are so starkly drawn in the land-mine-littered sand?
I have been telling people for months that my novel, Reoriented, tries to straddle this line. I tried to present what I believe to be the three main Christian answers to the question “Is it a sin to be gay?” in as fair and even-handed a way as possible — even the two perspectives I personally disagree with.
And I know this has perplexed many who are familiar with the project. Some of my conservative friends can’t fathom why my novel’s primary protagonist is a gay Christian who has studied what the Bible has to say about homosexuality and still doesn’t feel the least bit “convicted” about his orientation. And some of my liberal friends are bothered by the fact that my novel’s ultra-conservative fundamentalist character actually turns out to be a pretty awesome guy.
I get that. And sometimes, I’m afraid that both conservative and liberal folks will start out reading Reoriented sort of secretly presuming that they’re going to hate it. Maybe some of them will. But I think most of them will be pleasantly surprised. And a large part of the reason I think that is because I keep hearing reactions like my friend Luis’s.
Below is the Facebook message I received from him this afternoon (emphases mine):
I’ve told my friends about the book. I was hooked on it, and I was wondering how it would all resolve since I already knew what your position on this topic is. I always felt like rooting for D.J., and yet, I felt like he was fighting an impossible battle, one that he would eventually lose at some point or another because I also believe homosexuality is a sin and that the Bible makes it pretty clear. But I also believe that you have no control over who you’re attracted to, hence why you can be a homosexual and a Christian (and why I saw D.J. as a tragic hero in that sense). Sexuality is a vital part of who we are, and someone like D.J. suffers tremendously when that aspect of your identity and desire is denied.
You explain that the purpose of the book is to help us show grace to others, and when I consider the painful life that someone like D.J. goes through and that there are people in real life like him, I want to do just that. I would want to befriend him and, even though I disagree with his position on homosexuality, I would want to be one of those people in his life that reminds him about God’s love for him when other Christians serve only to harm him.
I have my frustrated moments when I feel that my faith places an overly rigid limitation on sexuality, and for most of my teenage years, it was that alone that prevented me from becoming a Christian. What I went through was a complete joke compared to the challenge D.J. has to deal with, and when I consider how the evangelical community has, as a whole, failed to help people like him, I find it miraculous that Christians like him even exist. The book really does help open eyes to this issue.
Find Reoriented on Amazon today, and other major booksellers very soon.