Opening My Mind, Opening My Heart

My Christian friend posted a note on her Facebook page about homosexuality, challenging the assumption that homosexuality is a sin and is condemned in the Bible.

I was livid. How dare she support something so wrong—something the Bible clearly does condemn as a sin? Loving the LGBT community was one thing, but outrightly supporting their actions was unacceptable. Love the sinner, hate the sin. Isn’t that what Jesus taught?

I typed an angry response into the comment box where I argued, as calmly and carefully as I could, that being gay was a sin. I didn’t want to start a fight, so I deleted it before actually posting it. But inside, my stomach writhed. This was wrong. What could I do to stand up for the truth?

Little did I know I was the one on the wrong side of truth. I am a writer, and my fascination with characters drove me to want to develop a gay character. Even though I believed homosexuality was a sin, I wanted to write about someone who was gay and about how that person could live in harmony with someone who had opposing views. But I needed to do some more research. I didn’t know much about being gay, other than what my Bible classes had told me.

I got online and browsed through Amazon’s book collection until I hit on one I liked. Eric Marcus’ Is It A Choice? arrived in the mail not much later, and I read it eagerly. By that time, I was really struggling with the issue of homosexuality. Most of my Christian friends didn’t believe it was a sin, but my Psychology class at school had me do an entire exam on why homosexuality was wrong. I was torn. What was true?

As I read the book, my views began to shift. I had never—apart from what the Bible said—been able to articulate why homosexuality was wrong or harmful. In fact, the ones causing pain were often heterosexuals. I decided to step out of my viewpoint and into someone else’s—namely, Eric Marcus’. That was both scary and unsettling, but once I was able to look beyond my own view and see through someone else’s mind, everything clicked.

I struggled with depression for many years. I’ve been told it’s a choice or that it is the result of a sin. I knew what it felt like to be minimized and to have those who didn’t struggle with depression define for me what my depression was and what caused it. I knew I needed to stop that pattern; I wouldn’t do the same thing to others. I needed to truly listen to the ones who were directly experiencing what it meant to be gay, bisexual, or transgender.

And I did listen. It made sense. Homosexuality did not cause pain, because it wasn’t a sin. Reparative therapy caused so much damage because homosexuality cannot simply be changed. I listened to a sermon where a gay man spoke about the Bible verses on homosexuality. Everything came together for me. God didn’t hate homosexuality. He created everyone differently, and the real problem here, I decided, was heterosexuals, not homosexuals.

My view changed dramatically. For the first time ever, I was able to truly love those who were gay, bisexual, and transgender, instead of cringing at the wrongness of it. I am now extremely passionate about the LGBT community, even more so because I go to a school that forces these very people to live in hiding, afraid of the consequences for something they didn’t do and which they shouldn’t and cannot change. That is not what the Bible talks about. That is not how Jesus would treat the LGBT community.

I believe we need to use the Bible properly. In the past, it has been abused and caused much pain—the issue of slavery and women’s place in the home and in the church come to mind. Sometimes we need to understand that our interpretation of the Bible is wrong. We must test our understanding of it and look at general revelation for clues to discern truth. Imagine what would have happened if I had never opened my mind. My heart would have remained tightly shut—out of fear and ignorance. But accepting the LGBT community is nothing to be afraid of.

Now I’m the one posting LGBT-affirming messages on Facebook. And I wouldn’t go back and change anything.

[box type=”bio”]

REBECCA SCHARPF is a 21-year-old college senior at Biola University, working to get her BA in English, with an emphasis in Writing. She is just now trying to set foot in the publishing world, and is enjoying the journey. She also has a deep passion for the LGBT community and LGBT rights.