“ I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things” (1 Nephi 11:17).
I first became aware of homosexuality in junior high. When I watched the evening news with my mom, I noticed a preponderance of criminals who were described as of “such-and-such age, height, and hair color” and also “homosexual.” I knew murder and theft, but homosexuality? I wasn’t familiar with this inciting offense. My mom explained that some men love other men (and the same for women).
I was aghast. Honestly, it had never occurred to me.
And so my earliest notion of homosexuality was only a brief step away from criminality.
Fear mingled with ignorance, and homophobia became my ill-excused choice for coping with differences. It worked for a long time because I was a conservative heterosexual and so was everyone I knew. I avoided anything that was different.
But my world is getting smaller. Good friends have come out as gay. There are political questions, relationships to navigate, and children to teach.
I’ve had questions and fears about homosexuality for a long time. But never have I ever sat down with a sincere heart to ask my questions to someone who identifies as LGBTQ.
Until this week.
And it. Was. Awesome.
Awesome: Sitting in a bit of a sweat to listen to someone define a world of sexuality that I disagree with.
Awesome: Seeing my own prejudices reflected in the video screen, rearranging my facial expression (and with it, my heart), and pushing through the discomfort to a genial exchange of ideas.
Awesome: Listening to an old friend share her journey of faith and reconciliation. In acknowledging her true feelings, she is finding more of herself and more of God. She is less judgmental of others. She is happy.
Awesome: Celebrating their decision to get married. Talking weddings and kids. Laughing together….You know, having the exact same conversation that I have with my heterosexual friends.
Awesome: asking hard questions and receiving sincere answers. Being graciously received despite my ignorance and perhaps even offensiveness.
* * *
Sexual orientation is a tricky subject, muddled by religious expectations, cultural norms, and personal opinions. But talking about it with someone who is different from me?–that wasn’t complicated at all.
On the same evening that I interviewed my gay friends,* our curly-haired 3-year old sat on her dad’s lap wearing Elsa PJs and proudly repeated this scripture verse:
“… I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things. (1 Nephi 11:17)
I can’t think of a finer conclusion. I know that God loves all of His children—generously, wholeheartedly, and without reservation.
So until that happy day when we learn the meaning of all things, I will keep loving and asking questions.
*Jo and Lauren are WONDERFUL! I’m lucky to have them as my guides. If you’re interested in hearing more of their story, you can listen to an interview with Jo at the Shut Up Meredith Podcast).