One of our social circles (as if there are so many) includes several gay friends. This is a circle we've become a part of within the last 5 years or so. We get together with this group maybe 3 or 4 times over the course of a year....sort of a seasonal thing as I think about it.
Anyway....I can honestly say that my dealings with homosexuality have taught me more about being Christ-like than any other single factor in my life.
Being married to a man who struggles with unwanted same sex attractions was my first experience with homosexuality which caused me to re-examine everything I believe about being a Christian. This ultimately inspired me to begin to actually live and make choices based on my beliefs, most notably when those choices go against the world's view of what the most practical, realistic thing to do might be in a given situation. Doing that put me on the fast-track toward growth in Christ. I'm not boasting, don't get me wrong, because there is absolutely nothing I've done that's within my own power and ability in all this. In fact, if I had a dollar for every time I've threatened to cut my losses and head on down the road, I wouldn't have to worry about helping my son get student loans for college. The bottom line is that the only way to deal effectively with being married to a man broken as my husband was/is, is to focus on my own brokenness and restore my own relationship with Christ to the place it should be.
The 2nd way that homosexuality has taught me what it looks like to be Christ-like has to do with these gay friends of ours. You see, I really love them. I've had to examine what it looks like to love them as Jesus loves. I've come to the conclusion that if I'm operating in a Christ-like spirit and with Jesus as Lord of my life, then any way that I love them is the same as the way He does. And so....what does that look like?
For me, it looks like someone being completely honest and yet not condemning or judgemental. Which I've found, actually can be done. These friends of ours know that we believe homosexuality is a sin. They don't agree with it, but they know it. Occasionally, one of these guys will keep me up talking ALL night about homosexuality and gay issues (like marriage). I always indulge him when he wants to do this because I love him. And it is quite an indulgence for me to stay up all night because it literally ruins the next day for me what with a large family and all. He, on the other hand, gets to catch up unencumbered by mouths to feed or household calamities to prevent (4 boys).
He seems most offended by the religious right and evangelical Christians. He wants me to explain how I can be associated and worship with these people who do nothing but condemn, judge, and limit his rights to happiness and freedom. It just almost makes him mad that I continue to "church" with people who are so offensive to him....and then I remind him that, if we are truly friends and care about each other, his tolerance of me and my choices should reflect my tolerance of him and his choices.
And that's pretty much how it works. I think every time we visit like that we each go away believing maybe we've made a crack or dent in the veneer of the other.
I'm basically still figuring it all out. The whole religious right political thing, that is. I'm very certain about my opinions on sexual brokenness but I do have a difficult time reconciling right wing politics with the love of Christ.
What I have no trouble reconciling is a love for my gay friends (and I mean love in a lay-down-my-life sort of way) with my Christianity. The two are one in the same.