“Choose you this day whom ye will serve; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15
I am a college graduate. It’s weird to think about, but a month ago, I walked across the stage and officially became an alumnus of the SEC school that I love so much. I had looked forward to that day for years. But it was far from what I had always hoped it would be.
In my perfect world (before my parents found out their daughter was a lesbian), graduation was supposed to be a joining of two worlds. My family would be there and they would be proud of me. My friends would be there, and though they would hate the idea of me “leaving” them, they would be insanely happy that I somehow managed to make it. The two worlds, the two groups of people that I cared about most, would unite and I would have one huge group picture to prove it and post all over social media.
After graduation concluded, the two groups did indeed join. But, my parents had, for some unknown reason, assumed that my girlfriend would not attend my graduation ceremony. She did. While they have never met or spoken to her, one could see instant recognition and disgust on their faces when she approached with my friends. A friend took one family picture for me in which my father looks uncomfortably angry and my mother is on the verge of tears. My father audibly stated that “this makes me sick” and my family opted to leave the graduation ceremony and meet me afterwards for a quick lunch. I proceeded to take photos with the friends (and yes, the girlfriend) who had come to support me and then I joined my family. Then began the uncomfortable graduation dinner at which my father did not speak to me and my mother informed me that she had not bought me a graduation card because she “couldn’t find one that said what I wanted it to say”. I exchanged hugs with everyone, my father informed me that I had made some horrible mistakes, and I left.
I cried. I crawled in bed with my girlfriend and my best friend and they held me as I cried. My heart was broken. For weeks leading up to my graduation, my mother had repeatedly told me that I didn’t love her. I was told that if I truly loved my siblings, I wouldn’t force them to bear the reproach of having a lesbian for a sister. I couldn’t say, “I love you” without hearing a “No, you don’t” in return. But I had hoped that graduation would be different. That some part of them would be happy for me, proud of me. Instead, I felt like they had given me an impossible choice to make – I could love them and be with them, or I could love her and be with her.
My parents will always believe that homosexuality is a sin. They will always believe that it is a choice. I have accepted that. But Church, listen to me – make your own choice. Choose to serve your God, follow in His footsteps, and do His will. Preach the hope of Christ to those who have lost all hope, exemplify His grace and mercy to those who are thirsting for it, and offer His love to those who have no one else. But in choosing to serve Him, choose to love as He loved and to love whom He loved.
When Christ died, He didn’t pause to consider His people’s sexual orientation. Instead, He chose to save all who believed. He didn’t command that a certain type of sinner receive a lesser portion of His love or grace. He loved all and, 2000 years later, continues to love all that will have Him. Deeming a soul unable to love or unworthy of your love isn’t Christ-like. The redeemed are called to choose to serve their God. But forcing someone to “choose” whom he or she will love is not our calling.
If you are struggling with a child’s, a sibling’s, or a friend’s sexuality – pray. Pray for guidance, pray for light. If they tell you that they love you, believe them and make sure that they know you love them too. And for God’s sake, if you’re going to sit through a never-ending college graduation, at least act happy for them afterwards.