Thursday, November 22, 2007

A Gift

In reading the blogs over the past week, I've encountered some, hmm, interesting ways of characterizing same-sex relationships. I've encountered once again the speculation that since same-sex attraction will vanish in the next life, I'll be left with a partner I can't and won't possibly want to be in a relationship with, and so I'll have nothing and be lonely for all eternity. I've made note of the ever popular comparison of my relationship with my partner to bestiality and child-molesting. And the related characterization of same-sex sexuality as an abomination deserving only God's inevitable wrath. And of course the suggestion that while same-sex orientation is OK, same-sex relationships are evil and society is going to hell for tolerating them and for considering the legalization of same-sex marriage.

I want to argue. It is true. But what basis is there to argue? And the only real purpose in arguing, I have realized, is to cover up my own insecurity, my own residual, nagging fear that maybe those characterizations are true. That's why I argue. To make something right. To convince myself I am right, by trying to convince someone else. Except that arguing never convinces anyone. I've never seen an argument end in which the arguers weren't afterwards each more entrenched in their arguments than they were before. Well, more entrenched in their insecurities as well. More angry that the idiot they were trying to convince can't see the clear, obvious truth of their position. (Except if it were so clear and obvious, they would have been convinced, wouldn't they?)

So there is only one way to move forward in the face of such nagging fear. Not by fighting the fear. Not by arguing with it. Not by getting angry. Rather, by moving into the fear. By opening oneself up. By listening. So this means having to go through life learning to accept a certain level of ambiguity. Accepting that I might be wrong. Living with the possibility that if I want to be happy, I might need to reevaluate, I might need to make changes. Not fighting, listening.

So that's where I was earlier this afternoon. Eternal mismatches. Bestiality. Child-molestation. Abomination. Evil. Is homosexuality really like that? Could I be so blind? Can there be truth in that? They're troubling thoughts.

Those thoughts were still there in the background of my mind, leaving me slightly depressed as I went about my business at work. Then after work, I had other, practical things to attend to. A birthday! Göran is turning 43 next Tuesday. There's a particularly special gift I'd been thinking of getting him for some time. I went shopping and managed to find it. I probably spent a little bit more on it than I should have, but all I could think of was the look I knew I would see on his face when he opened it.

And then I bought him something else special, to celebrate a new reality in our lives. The reality that after an eight-year-long search, we have finally found his birth certificate, and now he can apply for a passport, and we now know the names of his parents. He can be a citizen of the U.S., a citizen of the world, and he now has a place, ancestors, a history... After the new year, he's planning to contact his biological father (and his grandfather, who is apparently still alive!). I bought him something simple as a token of this altered reality. Nothing expensive, just a little book. And then before wrapping everything, I inscribed it. I sat down and thought about it, and about him, and then I wrote something in the cover that expressed what I feel for him.

And as I wrote, I realized something wonderful. This shared life I have with him, this relationship we have built, this interweaving of our lives, this love... This is real. Not the fear. Not the language of abomination and evil and hate. This love, this is truth. This is what we live life for. The Spirit was present again. I felt peace. Tears came to my eyes. This is real. This is eternal.

And I found this without anger. Without argument. Without even the least hint of bitterness toward those who used those words and made those characterizations. Only joy, peace, and the wish that, whatever paths others are pursuing, they might find wholeness and happiness as complete as what I have experienced on my own path. So in a strange way, that is a gift I received from them, and the only gift I wish to offer back.

If I live my life with an open heart, that will happen every once in a while. Someone will say something that provokes, that hurts, that dredges up all the old fears and anxieties. That's the nature of life. But that is the incredible thing about love. True love swallows all that up, and turns it into beauty. That is what the atonement was: taking in hate, anger, death, and returning for it love, peace and life. That is God's gift to us, the greatest gift of all.


Peter said...

I hope you know how much courage you give me.

I also have had to deal with a lot of difficult opposition this week, including the whole homosexuality is like pedophilia business. It's even more complicated and more personal in my situation.

In the end, I am discovering what is beautiful. Arguments aren't. But if I chose the life free from arguments, my life wouldn't have any beauty at all.

Chris said...


Yesterday morning, before my mother and daughter arrived from Wisconsin and Utah respectively to spend Thanksgiving with Jed and me, I had a moment where I was able to embrace him, look into his beautiful eyes, and tell him that I love him and am grateful and thankful for him in my life. What a gift! And it's a gift no theological speculating or "pro-family" politicking can touch.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and Goran.

David said...

I, for one, look up to you and the relationship you've built. Hopefully I can have something like that someday.

Mr. Fob said...

So as I was reading this I was thinking, "Yeah, he's right, those people who get in those pointless arguments are just insecure." I was feeling pretty righteous. And then I remembered that I, um, have been known to pursue pointless arguments.

Thanks for the perspective, John. Next time I get riled up by something someone says, I'll stop and remember this insight.

draco said...

*Grinning ear to ear-
I think this is the best post I've read since I joined the blogging world :)
Thank you.

ProudMamaBlogga said...

This really is beautiful. I needed these words, so I'm glad I stumbled across your blog tonight. The thing I argue to defend is different than yours, but I notice that I do it for the same reason. I need to stop arguing and embrace my ambiguity.

J G-W said...

ProudMamaBlogga - I am amazed at the things I have learned, when I have stilled my soul and embraced the contradictions. Thank you so much!