I have two ways I can write this. I can write it from a philosophical perspective that very few people will be interested in, or continue to read once they see the word epistemological, or I can talk from the heart which is more difficult than writing philosophically because of the emotional charge.
I was planning on writing a post about gay marriage for a few weeks now, ever since the case came up to the US Supreme Court. But each time I began to write, I would end up three or four paragraphs in and realize it was sounding contrived, preachy, fake, or just plain boring. So I’d delete the blog post and think that I would come back to it with some more thoughts. Then yesterday, while reading through some posts on a Facebook group I belonged (past tense) to, I came across what would be thought of in an evangelical sense to be a compassionate response to gay marriage, or “practicing” being gay. I found myself in a situation where the philosophical stands I once seemed to embrace so willingly were suddenly challenged.
I went to work, started sweeping/washing the floor, and decided to think it out.
First off, why am I continually drawn back to Christian faith even though there seems to be an apparent contradiction between what I believe and what most churches typically believe as the doctrine of the sin of homosexuality? This is a tough question to answer and I’m not sure how many LGBT people get it, or how many practicing Christians will get it. One of the doctrines of Reformed Epistemology, a generally Calvinist-backed philosophical view of God, is that certain ideas are hard wired into human beings right from conception. Like how a child knows that sharing is good, or stealing is bad, even if no one has given that child direct knowledge of these facts. In the same way that we have direct knowledge, innate knowledge that we are reminded of about things like math (think about that one!), we have innate knowledge of the existence of God.
Which isn’t going to win the minds and hearts of atheists. But that’s a different thread all together.
My reality is that I’ve always known God existed, always had that connection, always sought Him out. I went from the church I was raised in to Buddhism to paganism to First Nations spiritual expressions in sweat lodges and vision quests, back to my roots. And when I came back to my roots, I realized that it felt like home, so I attempted to deepen my personal practice, prayed and continue to pray daily, pray the office, contemplate and meditate as much as I can in the day, do good things for the old people I clean for, and some of the younger people I clean for as well.
Which isn’t to say it’s easy being a Christian. The reality is the LGBT community, not in totality, but many people look at me in a somewhat perplexed way. Last week one individual actually called me out on it, saying that they couldn’t see how homosexuality and the worship of Jesus Christ as the Son of God were consistent.
Let me quote something here that gives me some consolation:
O Lord our God, who made humankind in thine image and likeness and gave it power over all flesh everlasting, and who now hast approved thy saints and apostles Philip and Bartholomew becoming partners, not bound together by nature, but in the unity of the Holy Spirit and in the mode of faith, thou who didst consider they saints and martyrs Serge and Bacchus worthy to be united, bless thy servants, N. and N., joined not by nature . . . , but (grant them) to love each other and to remain undhated and without scandal all the days of their lives, with the help of the Holy Mother of God and ever virgin Mary. Because to thee belongs all glory, honour, and worship.
This is a prayer from the liturgical same sex union from the tenth century. A further prayer from the same liturgy concludes: “Wonderful and much longed for is the sweet smell of love. On earth it sows the seeds of piety and in heaven it gathers the sheaves of justice. ‘He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth forever.’ Turn thy holy ear to the prayer we raise to Thee, for Thou are the provider of all good things and the saviour of our souls, and to Thee is endless glory, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” (from John Boswell’s ‘Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe’, published by Villard Books, New York, NY, USA. (C) 1994 John Boswell)
In short, the liturgical rights for same sex unions have existed in Catholic churches for over a thousand years.
Which isn’t going to bode well with many fundamentalists.
So how do I reconcile it, even with that evidence?
There are two things I am innately aware of. The first is that God exists. The second is that I am gay. Each of these exist with the same level of epistemic weight (meaning I believe in them relatively equally, I know them in my mind and heart with the same level of certainty). I know that as I practice my faith, I must trust that given I live my life to the best of my ability, given that I am open to the voice of God and His intercession through my prayer life and the interactions of others in my life, and given that I am open to the happiness of finding a partner, making a life with that partner, in my heart of hearts I cannot but think that a God, who in the wisdom and power of creating the universe so infinite that looking on the night sky is only looking upon a drop of a drop of a drop of a drop of creation, must of in His divine wisdom known what He was doing having created me a gay man in His creation. Was I not created in His image? Is there not room in a universe as diverse as ours is (although we cannot in our limited minds comprehend infinity as it is) for me, and the way I love, and the way I wish to express my love?
The life of contemplation and the work I do in contemplation, both gardening and my day job as a janitor, has given me a small taste of the infinite and my place in it. Last week I saw a bumper sticker that read “The Truth is Not Relative” and had a picture of a cross beside it. I suddenly had a revelation that if I believe that statement is relative, then even truth is relative. I can’t believe that. I don’t believe that. However, I do believe that how individuals respond to truth is relative. And, if I may be forgiven for taking this quote out of the context it was intended, and turning it on its head to prove my own point, I would direct you to the words of the Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. I submit that a man, or woman, who truly loves God and is gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, two-spirited, or questioning the fluidity of their own sexuality can fall under the category of the right. I submit that knowing one’s self is the closets way to knowing God, to knowing Jesus. “Wrong is wrong, even if everybody is wrong. Right is right, even if nobody is right.”