“I thought she was a Christian,” I hear my mother say disdainfully from the living room on the subject of Robin Roberts who bravely came out as gay in a recent Facebook post. Anger boils within me and in that moment I want to say so many things to her. But I don’t, because I love, fear, and respect my mom, even though I don’t respect or agree with her beliefs. I thought she was a Christian. I repeat this phrase over and over again in my head, dissecting it. What does it mean to be a Christian? What does my mother think it means to be a Christian? After living with two Christian parents for 22 years, I have a pretty good idea of what it means to be a Christian. It means praying before you eat- but only when you’re in public or at a family gathering. It means having a diverse group of Christian friends- all of whom are white, conservative and straight and some who make racially derogatory remarks. It means speaking up about the things you feel strongly about- by scoffing every time gay marriage is mentioned on television. It means defending comments stemming from racism and bigotry made by people like Paula Deen and Phil Robertson. It means condemning sin, but mainly only the “sin” of loving a person of the same sex.
The church taught me that all sin is equal in God‘s eyes and that if you dislike a person, it’s the same as committing murder in your heart. And yet most people at my church, my parents included, dislike gay people. They will use the mask “love the sinner, hate the sin,” but does that really apply if the only thing you know about these people is their sexual orientation? To my parents and members of my church, gay people are only gay. They are their so-called “sin.” They’re not people who have parents and children and friends and jobs who do good things for their communities and care about the environment and dance and travel and sing and read and live. They are people who have sex with the wrong people and are therefore deviant and wrong. If my parents knew that I’m not a virgin, they’d be disappointed, but they’d understand. They would not change their definition of me from daughter to sinner or sexual deviant or unchristian the way my mother completely dismissed the amazing Robin Roberts who has done so many good things and who my mother loved a half hour ago, before she knew. What’s the difference? Robin isn’t going to stop being gay, but I’m not going to stop being sexually active, and I don’t plan on getting married anytime soon, if ever. It makes me so sad and disappointed that once the “gay” or “lesbian” or “bisexual” (or anything other than “straight”) label is placed on a person, “Christians” who are supposed to love everyone unconditionally, automatically develop a hate in their hearts for that person. And why? Because they were raised to believe it. I was raised to believe it, but somewhere along the way, I developed something great: the ability to think for myself and to form my own beliefs and opinions. The ability to question things that I’ve heard all my life from authority figures and even my parents. I no longer accept the things that I hear from people who are older and supposedly wiser than I am. There are thousands of religions all around the world and most Christians were born into Christian families and raised that way. My parents didn’t read about and study other religions and then make an educated and informed decision to be Southern Baptist. And yet they disregard every other religion as false and have even called religions like Islam “cults.” It’s time that people began opening their eyes and thinking for themselves rather than remaining in ignorance. Because ignorance is not bliss and mother does not always know best.