“I might be,” he says, “Would you still love me then?”
And I freeze.
Let me point out that I’m gonna love him no matter what. But you’ve got to understand what’s at stake here. Society doesn’t care if you’re gay or not, or at least it pretends not to. The church, on the other hand, says that it does, and that God does, and if you’re gay and you seek out a same-sex relationship, you’re going to hell.
That means that if my best friend is gay, he might just go to hell.
I don’t want him to go to hell.
“Do you think God hates gays?” I ask as we sit at my and mum’s kitchen table, trying to study.
“Do you think God hates injustice?”
“Huh – that’s in the bible somewhere, yeah?”
“I didn’t tell you Dad’s a pastor, did I? I know that thing back to front.”
“But your Dad’s -” I shut up.
“Getting divorced? Yeah.”
His mouth twists. For a couple of minutes, he’s engrossed in his textbook, and I try to do the same.
“Injustice, hatred… those things are all through the bible,” he says, looking up at me, “Gay sex? Hardly at all. Heard any sermons on being fair to your kids and wife lately?”
“So… you think God cares more about other stuff than sex?”
“I don’t know. It just seems weird that he’d tell people so much about love and looking after others, complete strangers even – and then hate people for doing something that does no harm. You know?”
I frown. I’ve got nothing. I know I believe being gay is bad, but for the life of me I can’t think why.
A knock on my bedroom door.
“Come in!” I yell, putting my bible down.
“Oh, this has to be a setup,” Mum says, laughing at me, “what were you really reading? Kama Sutra? Cosmo?”
“For once,” I say, trying to sound dignified, “I was actually reading this thing!” I frown, remembering why.
“Honey… is there something in particular you’re trying to work out?”
I sigh. Well, she always says she’s up for any discussion, right? I figure I might as well test the theory.
“Is being gay wrong?”
She sits on the bed and sighs.
“Wow, and I was only going to ask what you want for breakfast! No, being gay’s not wrong. Having sex with someone of the same sex is wrong.”
“Because God says so – and because it’s dirty, and can cause STDs.”
“But so can hetero sex!”
“Not if you’re monogamous.”
“What about if you’re gay and monogamous?”
She shakes her head.
“Doesn’t happen, love, or at least very rarely – that scene’s usually sex sex sex, with anyone anywhere,”
“But if it was?”
“Well, it’s still not what God made us for – one partner of the opposite sex, to help us understand the opposite sex, so we can procreate, like he wants.”
“World overpopulation, and God still wants us to procreate?”
She shrugs. “Bringing life into this world is an amazing thing, Maisy honey. It’s a chance to change the future long after you’re dead,”
“Honey? I’m sorry. I’m starving. Can we continue this over breakfast, at least?”
“Have you actually read what the bible says about being gay?”
She nods, distracted by cooking a pancake.
“Leviticus,” she says eventually.
“Yup! Along with commandments to avoid tattoos and women’s jeans and ESPECIALLY -” I pause for dramatic effect, “Using two substances to make your clothing. Like linen and wool, or polyester and cotton! Checked your wardrobe recently?”
She looks up at me and smiles ruefully.
“They’re old, superseded commands, love,”
“Isn’t the commandment against gay sex the same, then?”
“Nope, honey – Paul reiterated that one.”
“But Jesus didn’t, did he?”
“We don’t have a record of everything Jesus said.”
“But if it wasn’t important enough to write down…”
“I don’t know, honey. I think you want this to be OK, for whatever reason, that you’re willing to question what the church teaches – I think you need to be careful that you’re doing this in the right spirit. A rebellious spirit will always find a reason to rebel, you know?”
Well, damned if that doesn’t shut me right up.