I had some assumptions about being gay. One simple google could have filled a day with studies to back them up – but I didn’t, probably because no one was questioning them in my (mostly) church community. The information sat well because it surrounded and protected a core belief that “homosexuality” was just another behavior – not an identity – that the Bible spoke against. These assumptions filled the castle moat I described in a prior post, protecting core beliefs.
Our loved-one broke those assumptions: her very being went against every one of them, breaking my mental map of how things work. It sent my GPS into a “recalculating” loop, as if my car took a wrong turn and was trying to find a new route to the original destination. True enough, but if the destination was, “protecting my assumptions and beliefs at all costs” then I am actually re-routing to a new destination altogether.
Now I can google once and fill the day with studies to back up a new view. In fact I’d originally set out to summarize some of them here, but it’s too exhaustive on both sides. It’s easy to find lists of “myths about being gay” with the exact same bullet points, e.g. “born gay,” or “change therapy,” quoting research studies which come to the exact opposite conclusions. Proving again that for every Ph.D. there is an equal and opposite Ph.D.
Instead of studies then, I am focusing on stories.
Instead of studies then, I am focusing on stories. Science can try to describe the odds of a person being or behaving, but still there is a person that may or may not fit the mold. Where there is a person, there is a story. And a wide variety at that – stories on a continuum of discovery and disguise, stability and fluidity. They may be internal, but the journey to external looks very different depending on the particular culture. Importantly, we have all shaped those cultures and need to rethink how it has affected those who are gay.
Where there is a person, there is a story.
If I focus on the studies, I may form a belief of how it’s supposed to work, e.g. “80% of gays are…something.” and assume it applies across the board. But if I’m sitting with someone in that other 20%, does it make sense to hold the 80% statement as true and tell the person they are wrong?
If I focus on the stories, I can listen and learn, knowing I won’t ever fully understand and yet will find fully human points of connection and similarity.
And if I believe in the good story of a God who loves his creation through no work of their own, I can stop fighting and start sharing life with others who are different. If the story is as powerful as we believe, we don’t need to build protecting walls around it. Sure, it’s comforting to reinforce our own view of the world, but the more assumptions we bundle with the story, the fewer people can hear it¹.
¹For further reading on “the fewer people can hear it”:
- The “We’re sick of hearing about values and mission statements” section of 12 Reasons Millenials are Over Church by Sam Eaton
- From Future of Faith in America by Caroyln Custis James: “Theological hair-splitting and proof-texting hold little value for evangelicals under the age of thirty-five. They won’t abandon their gay friends. When Bible-thumping pastors rage against homosexuality, Millennials will simply let their feet do the talking. “