21 September 2011

THT: I love you, but

Can we modify love? I feel like it is something that is there or it is not. "I love you, but..." pretty much means that it isn't there. That there is some limitation on that love... and if it is limited, can it be love? I mean real love. Isn't love limitless? Isn't God love?

I have been so lucky to have a supportive family. My immediate family has been wonderful. Obviously there are certain bumps in the road that cause some friction, but for the most part- things have been great. My extended family has also been really good about continuing to include me. I do feel though that many of them are of this "I love you, but" mindset.

One relative said, "I love you, but I don't agree with your choices." On the surface, a statement like this seems fair... but it has some pretty negative effects on the person to which the statement is directed.

Imagine this: As a man, you fall in love with this girl. She is the world to you. She brings meaning to your life. She's the reason you wake up. Now say you want to marry this girl. You go to your parents and tell them your thoughts and they say, "We love you, but we don't agree with your choice. It is a bad choice and we will not support it. But we love you." What do you do at this point? Do you break it off with the girl and tell her, "sorry, but my loving parents don't like my decision?" NO! You would marry that girl despite your parent's disagreements. Why? Because you LOVE her! Because you know that what you feel is REAL and MEANINGFUL and that it fills your world with color and excitement you never thought possible. Now fast forward. You bring the girl to family gatherings, but your family makes no attempt to recognize her as your wife. They continue to hold the opinion that you made a bad decision, but they always let you know they love you and welcome YOU as always. On the other hand they just love your sister's husband. Would you feel loved? Is that love? Let me ask this instead.... would you continue to go to those gatherings? NO. Why? Because you would feel unequal. You would feel like your decision on who you love is unrecognized. You would not feel welcome and loved because you are connected to your wife. She is a part of you and you of her.

Alright, perhaps now you may begin to see what it is like for a gay individual whose family (immediate and/or extended), friends, church, and communities insist on these "we love you, but" ideas. "We love you, but we don't agree with your choices." What does that mean? That you don't agree with their love? That their love is somehow illegitimate? That what they feel is not as real as the love you feel? What is there to disagree about? Is it any wonder that gay individuals don't feel welcomed, don't feel included, don't feel equal, and don't feel loved by the people who should love them most? Why are people so insistent on not recognizing love between two men or two women? Could you imagine someone not only telling you that the love you feel for your spouse isn't real love, but then making it so that you couldn't possibly legitimize that love and be recognized by society as a couple who shares a loving bond and commitment? Are gay people wrong to feel unequal? And yet it is God who is blamed for the reason society is so instant on making gays inferior. God, whose love is endless and everlasting and without any kind of modifier. Jesus did not say, "thou shalt love thy neighbor, but don't include them lest they feel their actions are condoned."