How to interact with those dealing with same sex attraction who embraced a traditional biblical belief about homosexuality and then switched to an affirmation of monogamous gay relationships, has been a consideration of mine recently.
In the past I’ve not done it particularly well, but hopefully I’ve matured to the point where I can be healthier in these interactions (or lack of interaction).
This is my manifesto of sorts, but perhaps others will find it helpful for their thinking as well. It’s broader than simply tips for what to do and encompasses the attitudes necessary to maintain hope as more and more people embrace the idea that God sanctions same-sex partnerships.
The idea of the ‘happy warrior’ comes from a poem by William Wordsmith. My interpretation of this concept is that people doing their duty for powerful reasons find happiness focusing on God and those reasons rather than getting too caught up in what others are doing. They are able to be ‘happy’ as they deal with the pain of life due to this.
A happy warrior is trusting: There’s a reason you’re not getting a boyfriend and ultimately it’s because you trust that God is good. That he created in the world to work in a certain way and that your response when it doesn’t is to seek restoration rather than capitulation. You trust God that it’s a good thing for you to follow Him and His ways rather than the worlds. You trust God that he means this life for your good and eternal life for your joy and reward.
A happy warrior is joyful: Our God is awesome. His ways are beyond us sometimes. But He is good. How joyful are those who submit to the ways of a good God. Sure it hurts sometimes, but we can be joyful knowing that He is for us and we are seeking to serve Him. ‘What joy, what joy for those whose hope is in the name of the Lord! What peace, what peace for those whose hope is in him alone!’
A happy warrior is confident: It can feel like ‘everyone’ has changed to the affirming side and this can cause some doubt, but ultimately a happy warrior is confident that because God is true and trustworthy, their personal faithfulness to God and His ways is important.
A happy warrior is a long-term example: It’s probable the best way you can be a representative of God to your affirming friends is over the long run. It took them a long time to come to that position and they aren’t going to change back overnight. Perhaps at some dark night of the soul in 10 years’ time they’ll read a status or tweet you post (or whatever people do then) and it will open up communication and you can talk about your faithfulness over the years.
A happy warrior is prayerful: God changes people. We don’t. It’s not on us whether people stick with a traditional interpretation of the Bible. It’s up to God. We pray and serve and work, and ultimately He does.
A happy warrior is not alone: While many have become affirming; many have not. The happy warrior is glad to be part of a group of faithful men who in turn are supported by churches. This encourages the warrior to persevere and provides a place for support and encouragement, and a place to support and encourage.
A happy warrior is treated unfairly: A happy warrior does not become bitter or angry when they are treated unfairly or held to differing standards. The happy warrior trusts God and not men and so they accept unfair treatment.
A happy warrior is not clingy: It is not your role as someone who is non-affirming to continually offer yourself to someone who becomes affirming for conversation or catch-ups. In my experience I’m usually keener to maintain contact than those who switch sides and I need to learn to let them go. If they don’t respond to an email/text/call/fb message, there really is no point sending another one a couple of weeks or a month later. You tried; it’s okay to go your own way. Maybe in a few years’ time it will be nice to check in on them, but that’s a few years away. (Obviously if they are happy to continue communicating, you shouldn’t cut it off.)
A happy warrior is not mean and argumentative: When your affirming friend posts a status or similar celebrating their escape from oppressive Christianity or promotes gay marriage, you really don’t need to say anything. At all. The happy warrior’s confidence is in their God not in their ability to think they are right. Remember, most affirming people used to be non-affirming. They know what you think. They used to think that too. Also if they did actually want to know what personally you think, they’d send you a message or email.
A happy warrior is not jealous: When someone becomes affirming, it’s likely they’ll experience a sort of freedom and enter a new social circle and feel excited and thus this will make them happy. Probably happier than you feel. When they get a hot boyfriend and pose for shirtless pics at the beach, they are probably happier than you are. But the happy warrior does not get jealous. They know Whom they are following and trusting in. There’s a reason and there’s a good God. Think about that and not that tanned and toned chest of the significant other.
A happy warrior is not a quitter: Ultimately, you need to persevere. Life is hard. This is hard. But God is good and heaven is sure. Keep going. Look to Him and not to what others are doing.