It seems like the biggest test to prove one’s Christ-likeness in the 21st century is how you deal with the gays and the gay problem. There are certain prescribed courses of action that a devout Christian (and probably a Muslim too, I dunno) should take when confronted with the gayness. I had my chance a decade ago, and I’m ashamed to admit upon reflection that I failed miserably.
My friend Antonia* called me one sunny fall weekend. I remember the season because I was into my second trimester of a pregnancy resulting from sex outside of marriage…what we know in the church as “fornication”. It was a sad and lonely time in my life, and I was very happy to receive Antonia’s calls. She always made sure I had fruit and veggies in my diet, took me out to get my head off my sad unhappy situation and was a dear friend in general. Antonia’s and my friendship was only made stronger because she was Kenyan and I a hybrid Ghanaian, and we liked to rib or compliment each other over the shenanigans in our respective countries, depending on what was going on in the news.
“Nancy dumped me,” she heaved.
I didn’t like her butch partner Nancy very much because she was so unkind to Antonia and was living in her condo rent-free for almost a year, so to me, this was great news. But Antonia was crestfallen and heartbroken. I asked her to tell me what happened and then I prayed.
Oh, Jesus. I know I dun asked this woman to tell me what went on…but you gotta steer me through this one, Lord…
Antonia went into detail about what caused the break up as best she could. There were typical relationship problems: Nancy felt she was too needy, not ambitious enough and declared again and again that Antonia was making her unhappy in general.
“And then she said ‘When I’m between your legs, it just doesn’t fit’. I kept asking her what she means by ‘it doesn’t fit’?” she blubbered.
Dear, God! Are we talking about a dildo? Am I actually having this conversation? Brace me, Lord!
“Maybe she meant you two weren’t compatible…in that way, Antonia,” I ventured. “I honestly don’t know.”
Antonia began to sob harder now that her tale of woe had been told in its entirety. That meant it was my time to be the loving sista-girlfriend, full of advice and anecdotes about sunny days and rainbows to come ahead. But there was a problem: Antonia was a lesbian and I was a Christian. This would be the right time to tell her that God didn’t want her to be gay anyway, that she was a sinner who needed to repent and that she would go directly to hell if she didn’t do so immediately.
But that’s not what I did or said. I’m sure my baby housed in utero would have kicked me viciously if I had done so, and for good reason. What kind of a hypocrite would that have made me?
“I’m so sorry you’re sad, Antonia, and it crushes me to hear you so upset,” I began. I took several deep breaths before continuing. “But sometimes, you just have to release things and people from your life so that God can bless you with something better. You are holding on to Nancy, but you have to open your fist and let her go so God can replace her presence with something else…something that’s not going to cause you so much pain.”
Antonia sniffled. Suddenly, she wasn’t crying as hard. She told me I was right. I think I cracked a joke about her chasing a lion to get her mind off things. I’m certain she told me I was a fool. By the end of the call, she declared she was feeling better but I could tell she was still sad. Break ups are hard, no matter who you are.
I know I failed the bible thumping standard for this scenario, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. What is the point of my Christianity if it does not exhibit compassion first? What earthly or heavenly good would it have done in that moment to tell Antonia that God hated her lifestyle and that it was better off this way? Surely, God hated the lifestyle I was living that year as well. To declare condemnation in that hour in that instance was not my task. Besides, Antonia knew me well enough to know my beliefs and could have easily adopted them as her own should she so have pleased.
But she didn’t and I didn’t force her. That aside, she was a leader in her school’s Scripture Union back in Kenya. She probably knows the Bible better than I do. The best I could have done for my lesbian friend was try to share the same or greater measure of love and concern she had shown to me since I told her through my own stream of tears about my unplanned/unhappy pregnancy… not destroy her with my religion.
Does that mean I compromised my beliefs? I don’t think so. Compassion does not weaken the manifestation of God’s perfect love.