The very first post that I saw on Facebook this morning was the story of Jason Collins coming out of the closet. I did not know who he was or why it was even news worthy. Once I read the article I realized the significance of the news. It will be a great day when “coming out” will not be news worthy no matter the person or the job.
My views on homosexuality have come a long way. The journey has been a long one, but as I grow and evolve as a person I prefer the new me over the old. In my childhood home homosexuality was the worst kind of sin. The person who was gay had no redeemable value. At church I learned to “hate the sin, but love the person.” I struggled for too many years to count with that simple statement.
I have always thought of myself as open minded, but I realized when it came to this subject, my mind was closed. I believed that homosexuality was a choice. Maybe the person had life circumstances that pushed him or her to make that choice. I didn’t understand it and I did not want to understand. Then a family member, I will call “Butterfly” came out to me. I was like Jason Collins’ brother, shocked. I could no longer put homosexuality in a box and ignore it.
When Butterfly came out, I assured him that I still loved him, and I did. I accepted his choice to be gay. I truly tried to live by “hate the sin, but love the person” rule, but I found that I hated more than I loved. I did not want to be around this family member. What was wrong with me?
The more I pushed against the lifestyle, the more it showed up in my life. Another family member chose me to confide in regarding their sexuality. Again I assured this person of my acceptance and love, but in all honesty it was tainted, because of my struggle. As I battled against my conflict, I watched Butterfly change from living their life as a man to a woman. She blossomed and seemed happier than ever before.
As much as I tried to live the “hate the sin, but love the person” mantra, it was not working for me. I did not like the animosity that I felt toward my family members. Then I had several “Ah ha” moments. I realized no one in their right mind would choose to be gay, bisexual or transgender. Who would put themselves into that category with all the prejudices and hatred that comes along with that “choice”? No one! Once I came to the realization that it was not a choice, things started to shift for me. Butterfly’s change taught me that when you are true to yourself, happiness is a byproduct.
I choose to focus on loving the person. During prayer, God brought me to a scripture that put things in perspective for me.
36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” 37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” -Matthew 22-36 (NKJV) (biblegateway.com)
Once I choose to just love and accept my family members for who they were, true love and acceptance without the baggage, I was able to see things in a different light. I truly desired for them to be happy. I did not wish for them to suffer with being isolated or singled out. I realized that I had been doing that and it needed to change. I only wanted them to be happy, whatever that happiness looked like for them.
I began to question why God created people to be gay, bisexual or transgender. Why would He do that? Then, I reasoned, maybe it was a test or an opportunity to see how each person showed love to those that were so different. It can be difficult to love someone or something that it so contrary to ourselves or beliefs. However, for me, this journey was essential to my growth as a human being. I may not always understand, but leading with love instead of fear and hatred will always be the best answer.
I wish Jason Collins all the best in his career. I pray that his announcement will not hinder teams from scooping him up as a team player. I commend his courage to speak up and be authentic to himself. May we all have the courage to do the same in our lives.