When I wrote that phrase some time ago and as I write this post today I'm thinking of you who believe there's no such thing as a "Christian lesbian." You consider the term to be a contradiction of terms but more than that, you regard it an offense to the Gospel. You believe if someone identifies as a Christian they would seek repentance from homosexuality and would do all they could to change and short of change they would at least commit to not "practicing" homosexuality.
I also have those of you in mind who, even while doubting such a thing as a "Christian lesbian" exists have haltingly admitted to yourself that while you love Christ and are committed to the Christian life, your desire for an intimate and loving relationship is with another woman. Because of this apparent conflict you feel as though there's a choice you'll have to eventually make, to either walk away from your faith in God or deny, reject, or attempt to change your attraction to other women.
Whether paragraph one or paragraph two best describes where you stand, I'm writing as someone who knows your position because at one time I was you. For much of my life I believed homosexuality was a sin that led good people astray from a true faith in God. I watched Christian talk shows and gave thanks for the those who shared stories of deliverance from the "homosexual lifestyle." I didn't hesitate to share my beliefs with college friends who opened up with me about their own struggles with sexuality because I loved them and didn't want to see them go down a road that would take them so far from where I believed God desired for them to be.
A few years later (1994) I was the one engaged in an internal conflict like I'd never known before and that I could never have imagined. My faith in Christ meant everything to me and my greatest longing was to live in a way that brought honor to God but suddenly I recognized my lifelong unnamed feelings as being the very thing that would bring the most disappointment to the heart of God. My fear and shame were so great I told no one and spent my evening hours crying out to God in prayers full of promise. I will change. I will do whatever it takes. I will never do anything to disgrace you. I will die before I do. And prayers of pleading. Please forgive me for whatever I did to make this happen. Change me. Help me. Don't leave me. Please don't hate me. In that moment I looked down the path of my future and saw nothing good.
I really have been there. I really have said and done and felt that but no longer does paragraph one or paragraph two represent who I am or what I believe. I stand in another place about both pieces of my life, as one who is a Christian and a lesbian.
1. I am a Christian.
There was a time in my life when I made the intentional decision to say yes to a relationship with God through Christ by recognizing that it was through Jesus' life, death and resurrection that God's saving presence entered into the world. I was a child when I first said yes and even though on my best day I live out my yes imperfectly I choose again and again to say yes each day of my life. Yes, I love God above all else. Yes, I will follow after God's will. Yes, I will seek to love others as Christ loved. Yes, I will be the grace of God in the world.
I'm not a Christian out of my own righteousness but by the righteousness of God and the completed work of Christ given freely to all. (John 11:25, John 5:24, John 20:31, Romans 1:16, Ephesians 2:8,9 and Colossians 1:21-23). Salvation hinges on nothing else; not adherence to church tradition or believing in doctrines or creeds. The assurance of my faith is grounded in Christ and Christ alone and to add conditions or requirements onto that reality is to imply that the death and resurrection of Jesus was insufficient, that Jesus was wrong when he said from the cross "It is finished." While a church might say "Believe as we believe and do as we do and you may join us here" Jesus welcomes all based on nothing other than the love and grace of God.
2. I am a lesbian.
While I remember the very place and time when at the age of five I became a Christian, there was never a single moment when I made a conscious choice to be a lesbian and I always take it with a mix of mild amusement and irritation that some people will argue it was a choice. It's amazing and yes, exasperating at times, that people who don't know me or other GLBTQ people personally would be so presumptuous as to assume they know the reality of our lives more than we do.
My Beloved and I have been together for nearly nine years. We were married in a church filled with friends and in the presence of God. There's nothing about our life together that would look strange or odd were the one I love a man and our relationship heterosexual. I cook breakfast. She makes the bed. We shower, dress and go to work. During the day we call each other to express our love or to remind the other to pick up more milk on the way home. After the dinner dishes are put away, we watch television or play with the kittens or putter around the house until bedtime when we fall asleep beside the other. There's nothing bizarre about our life. Nothing unusual. While some would even consider our lives boring I treasure each day as an amazing and joyful blessing.
And yet, there's something very different about being a lesbian in this world. Being lesbian means knowing that in certain parts of the world you can't hold your partner's hand in public as straight couples do without risking being ridiculed, physically assaulted, or imprisoned. Being lesbian means picking up the paper every morning or watching the news every night to hear about some new legislation that's being debated that if passed would negatively impact your life. Being lesbian means listening to false stereotypes being painted about you and the people you love every Sunday morning by television evangelists, all in the name of God. Being lesbian means trying to explain the nonexistence of the homosexual lifestyle and the gay agenda to strangers.
But being lesbian means even more. Being lesbian means celebrating the joy of being a woman. Being lesbian means giving full expression to the depth of the love within you. Being lesbian means living confidently with God's approval rather than with the approval of others. Being a lesbian means standing in solidarity with others who stand on the outside whether they be the poor, the sick, the elderly, or any among God's creation deemed not acceptable by the majority. Being lesbian means finding your courage and living boldly. Being lesbian means experiencing another woman's courage when she takes your hand in a roomful of strangers or shows her wedding ring proudly without embarrassment or thought to what others will think.
I am a Christian. That's my faith. I am a lesbian. That's my sexual orientation. I make no apology for being either and if after all is said and done I remain a contradiction to some folks then that's the way it will be. I can't prevent someone from rejecting the presence of God in my life, or calling the love between my partner and I perverted, or even denying the sufficiency of salvation through faith by requiring I be heterosexual to receive it. In the same way no one has the power to remove the confidence I have in God, or diminish the quality of love I've been graced to share with my Beloved, or say or do anything that will separate me from the love of God I have in Christ Jesus.
I love being a Christian and I love being a lesbian because for me it's about living a life of wholeness and gratitude for all that God has done through Christ and for all that God is doing in me.