Love and Loving Unconditionally
I’ve heard it a thousand times. “I will love the person, but hate the sin.” I truly believe that most Christians who make use of this popular phrase truly mean well. I also think that they’ve heard it so many times that they don’t consider how conditional that makes their claim of “unconditional” love. First, there’s the idea of homosexuality as a sin. I find it very difficult to believe that a God, who first claimed unconditional love, would ever find real love in any form to be wrong. Now, I know it’s popular opinion among most Christians that being gay is a choice. But really, what is a choice?
Waking up everyday and deciding what you’re going to wear that day? That’s a choice. Coke or Pepsi? That’s a choice. Cooking dinner or eating out? That’s a choice. Now, what do all of these “choices” have in common? Options. All of the above situations can reasonably be considered choices, because there are options. You can select one or the other by making a conscious decision to “choose” one of the two options instead of the other.
Now let’s look at Love: Emotions, feelings, attractions. Let’s assume for a moment that you’re straight, which you may very well be. Now let’s also assume that you chose to be straight. When did you make that choice? What year? What month? What day? What was that pivotal moment that made you choose being straight over being gay? I’ve heard a lot of Christians defend that question with “Well, that’s what I chose, because the Bible says homosexuality is a sin.” I’m sorry, but that doesn’t fly. Let me tell you why. Puberty. Seems bizarre, right? How does puberty debunk the “Bible” defense of choosing to be straight over being gay?
Attractions that come along as a result of puberty start at a young age. Most of the time around middle school, actually. How many people can claim that they knew that much about the Bible and homosexuality then? Now let’s look at attraction itself. Assuming you “chose” to be attracted to the opposite sex: when was that? Could you make the other choice now? Notice, I didn’t ask “would you?” I asked “could you?” Can you honestly tell me that you could find someone of the same sex and fall head over heels in love with him or her? Could you spend the rest of your life with that person? Would you do anything, give anything, for that person? Would you die for this person that you “chose” to become gay for?
I would bet that most straight people, or all if answering honestly, would have to say no to that question. I doubt there’s a straight person out there in the world that could honestly fall in love with someone of the same sex and spend the rest of their life with that person in perfect happiness. Why? Because you aren’t attracted to the same sex. It’s not physically or emotionally possible for a straight person to feel that way toward someone of the same gender. Let’s flip it around now. In the same way that you, as a straight person, could never “love” someone of the same sex, I, as a gay person, could never love someone of the opposite sex. Trust me, I’ve tried. There’s nothing going on there.
I began having feelings for guys around the same time you began having feelings for men if you’re a straight woman or women if you’re a straight man. The only difference between you and me is that I hid what I felt, ashamed of my attractions, because they weren’t like everyone else’s. Looking back on everything, it definitely wasn’t wrong for me to have those feelings; it was just different. As I got older, those ashamed feelings were reinforced by what I was being taught in Church. It wasn’t until grad school that I started doing my own research on what the Bible really has to say on the subject. Those in favor of the choice theory, beware: the results of my findings were not in your favor.
You didn’t just wake up one day and decide to be straight. In the same regard, I didn’t wake up one day and decide to be gay. Why would I? I know there are some really masochistic people out there, but I’m not one of them. I try to avoid as much self-inflicted pain, or pain in general, as possible. Why would I wake up and decide to live my life outside of the norm? Decide to be hated? To be ridiculed? To be told that I chose to go against what was right and expected? To go against the will of God? There are so many reasons not to choose being gay if it were actually an option. That’s the issue, though. It’s not a choice, and I didn’t get to choose. Looking back on everything that’s held meback from being myself for so long, I wouldn’t change that fact either. I’m perfectly amazed with who I am as a person. The only thing I would change is the fact that I waited so long to embrace that part of who I am.
And for those of you out there that are preachers who are standing at your pulpit on Sunday claiming that homosexuality is a choice? Shame on you. Stop it. It must be incredibly easy to stand up in front of the Church on Sunday and claim that my life as a homosexual was a choice when in the eyes of almost everyone staring back at you, you’ve already made the right choice and so have they. You know that they’ll trust what you have to say, because they believe that they’ve somehow made the right choice too. The only catch is that no one seems to be able to determine exactly when it was that they made this pivotal life choice. I mean, isn’t that kind of a big deal? You “chose” your sexuality, so shouldn’t you remember when you made that choice?
Enough about choices, though. This is really about what loving unconditionally means. I kind of got off on a slight tangent (alright, so it was a large tangent…). I’ll start with the meaning of unconditional. The “un” in front of conditional has a purpose. Conditional means that as long as one thing happens, another thing will happen as well. “As long as you clean your room, you can go to the movies on Friday with your friends.” Whether or not you clean your room or not determines whether you’ll be going to the movie on Friday with your friends. The condition of your room is keeping you from having fun with your friends.
The “un” changes everything, though. It changes the meaning to “without” conditions. So, claims of unconditional love are supposed to mean “regardless of every other factor, I will love you.” So, going back to how I opened this post, it is impossible to unconditionally love a person while hating the “gay” part of who they are. You can’t “love the person and hate the sin.” Being gay is part of who they are. A part they can’t, and shouldn’t have to, change. You can’t unconditionally love someone while hating part of what makes them who they are.
Which brings me to the next question: How can you love someone conditionally? It kind of defeats itself and doesn’t make any sense. “As long as you’re straight, I’ll love you.” That’s basically what you’re saying. Regardless of what you actually say, that’s how it comes across. There’s not a whole lot of meaning in telling someone, “I love you, but I don’t approve of you being gay.” Who asked for your approval? I didn’t choose to be gay, and how can you really love me if you hate who I am as a person? Sure, being gay isn’t the only part of who I am. But it’s a huge part of who I am. Humans were not made to be alone. We were made for each other.
If you’re married, how did you get to that point? You fell in love. Where did that love come from? Attractions that turned into feelings for that person. Those feelings allowed you to become emotionally attached to that person and in turn to fall in love with that person. No one steps out into a crowd of people, points at someone, and says “You’ll do. Let’s get married.”
While it’s true that love doesn’t just happen overnight and it takes time to develop, it’s also true that love can’t be forced out of nothing. When you try to say that being gay is a choice and that gay people can choose to be straight and fall in love with someone of the opposite sex, it’s like telling them that they can force themselves to fall in love with someone. Sorry, it’s not going to happen.
Live your life and be happy. Be with the one that you can’t live without. Remain true to who you were meant to be, no matter what society tries to tell you. Embrace everything about who you are. Real love is unconditional, and love has no idea what gender is. Most importantly, love is never wrong.