Some days I really miss my Conservative Christian Ghetto. That place where no one admitted to smoking or drinking, divorce was unforgivable, people with same sex attraction were sick and twisted, and the goal of everything was to lead people to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
I'm not romanticizing that place. . . but everything made so much sense there. The black and whites of "never do anything that might possibly cause anyone to stumble," "love the sinner and viciously condemn the sin," and "you have a responsibility to share the Gospel with everyone you meet" are difficult to carry out, but simple in conception.
I don't know when I left it forever. It could have been the day a left-leaning Episcopalian priest's daughter became one of my best friends. Perhaps it was the day I enrolled in college as a biology major. Maybe it was the day the guy with whom I danced my last dance at senior prom hung himself.
Somewhere along the way I left it, and there's no going back to easy answers. Soon, I will be receiving my first lesbian wedding invitation, from someone who has been a dear friend for twenty years. She has very different ideas than I do about how to interpret Scripture, and she and the woman she'll be spending her life with are both very committed Christians, active in their church. On occasion I get 3 AM phone calls, as a friend leaves the gay bar he works at to drive home to his boyfriend. I listen to his questions- which are so often the same as mine. "If God wants me to love Him, shouldn't He make it easier?" "Why should I believe that God is more than a Cosmic Sadist?" "Why did God allow sin, injustice, torture, Why doesn't He rescue the innocent and powerless?" This friend is asking questions again, after a season of being satisfied with Richard Dawkins and vodka. I'm proud of him, and I can't say that I would bother, after tragically losing a marriage and being "turned over to Satan" by a church.
Jesus not only loved sinners, he let sinners love him. These two have certainly loved me, during some of the toughest days of my life.
So when I'm handed information about GLBQT issues and health disparities, I can't just let it wash over me. It matters that men who have sex with men have a higher rate of HIV infection...and it matters that African American women (thanks to the men who have sex with women and men phenomenon) have ridiculously high rates of new HIV infections compared to the rest of the US population. And it matters that lesbian women have higher rates of cervical cancer. It also matters a heck of a lot that people who are involved in homosexual activity (probably not the current/correct phrasing) fear "coming out" to their healthcare providers. I am an evangelical who takes Romans 1 at face value. However, that doesn't trump my conviction that everyone should get adequate (well, ideally. excellent medical care).
How do I be Christlike in engaging homosexuality as an individual, with those I love (and love me)?
How do I be Christlike in engaging homosexuality as a public health proffessional?
(and that's just one of the "how do I go about being a Christian in public health?" questions)