8/24/16 John about 50
Today my gospel outreach efforts brought me to a coffee shop where I met John, about 50, who works at an aerospace engineering firm. He had grown up and raised his two children Catholic, but when his son told him he was gay he decided to affirm and embrace his son’s sexuality. This led to John’s continuing involvement as a volunteer in a gay/lesbian family support group, and a rejection of his Catholic beliefs. We talked for almost an hour, and he was open enough to hear the Gospel and ask some good questions, and I did the same with regard to his experiences. He cited some statistics about the high incidence of suicide among gay young people, including those from religious families. Though we were very different in our beliefs about this issue, these alarming statistics should not be ignored. He identified two factors that have been most commonly identified among gay suicides: the feeling that one is an outcast or doesn’t belong; and the feeling that one is a burden or disgrace to the family.
From his perspective, religion is very often the enemy as it alienates people who don’t conform, often the children of established church members, and places high burdens and expectations on them and their family members to “keep up appearances”. But maybe religion, specifically biblical Christianity, doesn’t have to be part of this problem. Maybe it could be part of the solution. The Gospel is about entering a family of believers through repentance and faith in Jesus. It’s about reconciliation between wretched sinners and a holy God, and because we are forgiven and reconciled, we can and should be forgiving of one another. We are all sinners who don’t need to alienate one another, and we all have gifts and talents to bring to the table so nobody has to feel like a burden.
John and I agreed that people don’t necessarily choose to have same-sex desires. We disagreed on whether they can or should choose not to act on them. The issue of homosexuality seems to be different than other sinful acts. I don’t know of any easy answers. What I do know is that the alienation and feelings of being a burden on others that can lead to suicide are very real, and we as Christians need to be aware of them and sensitive to the needs of those who feel them.