Monday, March 12, 2007

"Normalizing" gay relationships

A Christian reader writes in:

This weekend I spent time with a lesbian couple that I just loved. It was hard to reconcile how loving, supportive, and wonderful they were to each other with the idea that they're these horrible people that the church often claims they are . . .

I honestly had never been an up close witness to a lesbian relationship, and I guess it was a little surprising if I'm being totally honest. It was just so...normal I guess is the word. They weren't trying to prove anything; they weren't defensive or aggressive about their sexuality. It amazed me the stereotypes I held once I was confronted with the reality, and I have been praying to be free of those now that I'm so aware of them.

Yep. I also remember the shock when I was first confronted with the contrast between the image of homosexual people I was presented with in my church culture, versus the real people I actually met for myself.

One of the big complaints that leaders in my former denomination had against my writings was that I was seeking to "normalize" homosexual relationships. This accusation has troubled me and I believe I finally understand why. It's not so much that I'm seeking to normalize homosexual relationships. It's that I view homosexual people themselves as normal people. I think they are no different than anyone else except, for whatever reason, they have found themselves to be homosexual and are dealing with that reality in the best way they know how.

But problems apparently arise when such people seek out relationships and their normalcy spills over so that now their relationships become normalized too. In the minds of some Christian leaders this simply cannot be, and they expect me to answer for this outrage.

I don't know about how "normal" gay relationships are "supposed" to be. But frankly, when I picture a gay couple living together in a committed relationship, I do think their life is probably not much different from any other marriage. Sitting at the breakfast table reading the newspaper over coffee. Taking turns walking the dog. Griping when the other person hogs the computer. Asking about the long distance call that showed up on the phone bill. Gelling on the couch together watching the eleven o'clock news, until someone finally gets up and mumbles something about having to wake up early the next day.

I'm afraid I really don't know how to answer for such normalcy. But I do think it would be helpful if, in the church, we acknowledged that this is probably how things really are. That way we could at least avoid discrediting ourselves when people discover the vast difference between the sterotypes we set up about gay relationships and the ones they encounter in the real world.