I had a loved one invite me over for Christmas. I offered to introduce them to Dan, the guy I have been dating since mid-November. They kindly declined the offer ending with the, “I’m still working on adjusting to your lifestyle” statement. On that note, it would be easy to get argumentative, but this loved one and I didn’t argue. Instead, they decided to do other things, and I will do my thing with Dan and friends. But, there is one “thing” that transcends all of this. More on that in a minute.
To be sure, I can empathize with how easy it would be to see it, the “lifestyle” label, as dismissive and insulting when it is applied to those of us who are LGBT. Reducing us to the highly charged stigmatized cultural catch-all “lifestyle” word is problematic. At best, it short-circuits in-depth dialog. At worst, it reinforces negative stereotypes that could lead to unhealthy behavior and unnecessary relational hardship and conflict.
However, even coming from that perspective, I didn’t feel mad or upset at all with this loved one. Instead of focussing on the word “lifestyle” I am choosing to concentrate on the words “I’m still working on adjusting to…” <–That is exciting to me and is light years from where we have been in the past.
But as I was thinking about my loved one’s beliefs and the realities of my life, I believe the Spirit reminded me that one of the miracles of Christmas is that this holiday transcends all of that. In truth, if there is a “lifestyle” to be mindful of this Christmas Sunday, it would be the life of Christ. A life marked by:
- Humility: The Eternal Creator of everything reduced Himself to human form, a crying poopy baby in a manger and lived 33 years in this wacky, weird world. He is one of us.
- Simplicity: When it came to resources, Jesus lived a life mainly of function and acts of service. He taught intentional contentment, personal responsibility and celebrated gratefulness. He didn’t earn a bunch of initials after His name or brag about being a Prophet, Pastor or Preacher. He had no need for an expensive marketing plan with strategic 1-3-5 year goals. He lived simply, taught simply, led simply… and revolutionized the earth for eternity.
- Compassion and Love: Jesus literally fed thousands without turning away any culturally defined “Sinner” in the name of “religious freedom or conscience.” He stood up to the religious extremists seeking to murder in the name of godliness. He called out and confronted religious bullies trying to disenfranchise and oppress others through unnecessary burdens being passed off as the will of God. Jesus prayed for people, taught people, wept for entire cities, suffered through humiliation and the Atonement to rise from the dead; all out of His core of love and compassion.
- Selflessness: Our Creator could have made a world of simple instinctual creatures or robots to serve and entertain Him. Instead, He divested of Himself by allowing us to bear His Image, to reflect back to Him, or not, free will and relationship. He’s not in this for what He can get from us. He is in this for what He did for us. We are the gleam in His eye, the beat of His heart, the catch in His Breath. I don’t believe God has ever needed or wanted to look in a mirror. His gaze is only toward you/us and His creation. He looks on us with joyous infinite love, not pity or anger. I truly believe this.
- Sacrifice: God knew His wayward creation needed to be reconciled, but knew we would never find The Way on our own. While other paths are for others to explain and consider, I believe He brought me Home to Himself through Christ’s sacrifice and atonement in the starkest and ultimate of ways. He did this all for the hope of us choosing to look away from ourselves, our mirrors, and to Him with a spiritually energized heart and responsive love lighting up our own eyes.
Now, after reading the above bullet points… do you even remember what I started writing about at the beginning of this post? Maybe. Or perhaps, if you are like me, the start of this post is necessary to face and process but should not distract from the main point of Christmas for those of us who are Christ followers.
Christmas is a time to examine, reflect and meditate on the beauty of Christ’s life, not have to defend our own.
So yes, my loved one and I are going to do different things this Christmas because I am gay and want to spend time with a great dude named Dan. But for those of us who seek to love, treasure, and appreciate the Life of our Creator, it will be a wonderful Christmas.