How is Christianity a comfort?
I was reading the comments to a Facebook link to the It Gets Better project. I was just the tiniest bit irked by phrasing, because even though I know the original person meant well, he wrote that IGB was a great project for “young people struggling w/ homosexuality.”
I suggested instead that he meant to write “young people struggling with the social stigma surrounding homosexuality.”
Another person raised the (valid) point that some people don’t want homosexual feelings, and he argued that original phrasing could still apply — but I noted that It Gets Better is probably not directed to this attitude.
Later, on twitter, I got to wondering: what would happen if someone could change his or her orientation. Would they still effectively be the same person?
I doubt that I would be.
To begin, I’d like to digress to a different topic: race. Many people argue that race and sexuality are different, and you know what — I can agree that there is a fundamental difference in the two.
But for me, the difference is this. I recognize that race has an ultimately fundamental impact on how I view the world, but it’s not because of race itself. To try to elaborate, my being black doesn’t make me view things differently. Unlike what stereotypes may suggest, being black doesn’t alone predispose me to find watermelon and fried chicken appealing. It’s because I live in a race-aware, color-conscious society (even when people claim to be postracial) that I think differently. Race impacts how I view the world because of my experiences of people relating to me as a black person.
How does this contrast with sexual orientation?
While I note there are fundamental impacts for sexual orientation because we live in an orientation-aware or orientation-conscious society (e.g., I am impacted by living in a hetero-centric society or from dealing with homophobic people), there too is a fundamental impact on worldview because of the sexual orientation itself.
Being gay is like seeing colors completely differently. It’s not just about sex. It’s not even primarily about sex. Rather, the kinds of people with which I could see myself really connecting are different. I feel a kind of prosopagnosia, but instead of being blind for faces, I’m blind for an entire sex and gender.
That doesn’t mean I can’t see that gender at all. But I can’t recognize certain things that would be taken for granted by others — this preternatural impression that maybe, one day, that might be a great person to spend and entire day talking and laughing and soul-searching with. Or the sense that if we could only hold hands for a second, then I’d be supercharged for the rest of the week.
I can evaluate the “artfulness” of this gender, but I don’t live the poetry. It’s all academic. Saying, “She’s beautiful” is always partially a hollow phrase…it will never mean as much as when I choke up inside because I am not sure whether saying “He’s beautiful” will even do justice to what I want to express. It’s like cursing in a native language vs. cursing in a foreign language. I can string together the curses in the foreign language because I haven’t internalized that those foreign curse words really mean something “as weighty” as the ones in my native language do.
Yet, it’s not like cursing at all. Society never taught me this. My parents never did anything to lead to this. I cannot even imagine even attempting to find something that anyone could consciously do that could even touch this.
That’s what I think of when I think about sexual orientation. Things like race don’t really do that for me. (And how could race do that? What things could race even impact in that way? Watermelon and chicken aside, I don’t even know.)
So…what I’m trying to say is…even supposing that I could change my sexual orientation — or you, or anyone else — what it would mean is that I would lose one poetry and (maybe) gain another. I would lose one academic detachment and gain another. But all of this exchange of tit for tat, this for that, would fundamentally change who I am.
And so I tweeted: do people who push for change understand this?
I fear that few do, but what I fear more is that of those few, some view such a fundamental change as positive.
And this gets into one of my big problems with Christianity.
In Matthew 10:39, Jesus notes:
He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.
In some sense, the entire point is to hope that one day, you will be fundamentally changed. Those who are not willing to lose their lives, to take up the cross and follow Christ, have issues of pride, people will say. Pride? So if we want to keep ourselves and the integrity of who we are, then we are just too prideful?
I don’t even know how to respond. Maybe I’m afraid. I’m afraid that if I lose my life, or lose that which makes me me, then it won’t be *me* who is reaping whatever in hell benefits there are in heaven. It will be Me Prime, who is probably a great guy to be around and all, but not me.
This comparison is extremely uncomfortable for me, because it forces me to ask myself if I have unsound biases, if my assertions are as unpalatable as I think the Deaf ones are, etc.,
I mean, I can understand the comparison. I can understand the appeal of Deaf communities and Deaf pride. But maybe it is because I am one of the hearing, and I “feel” like deafness is a deficiency in a way homosexuality is not (unsound bias?) This comparison forces me to ask myself: is homosexuality (or should homosexuality be) regarded similarly to deafness? Are gay people (and deaf people) too “proud” to seek to overcome a deficiency, or do they even have a deficiency at all?
Regardless of those uncomfortable questions, I like the thrust of the comments — there are communities (capital D Deaf as the commenter seems to denote) because there is a very different way one interacts with the world as a result of the circumstances. I can understand britt’s tension:
I warble between wondering why someone wouldn’t want to hear!! and wondering if very dear characteristics I value in them would be healed away.
I go back and forth…from over here where I sit…of course we want Jesus to heal us..but on such a personal level what does that mean?
What is the hope? How is Christianity a comfort?