When my sister and I were young teenagers we found ourselves watching Barbra Streisand on the TV at our grandparents’ house. Our grandfather started to rebuke us for liking that ‘alley cat’. He then proceeded to tell us we shouldn’t support her by buying her albums, etc. because then we are supporting her immoral lifestyle. One of us replied with, “Well then you shouldn’t be supporting Jim Nabors. (His favorite singer.) He is gay, you know.” My grandfather went up like a flame! I never saw him so angry – neither before nor after that. He was furious that we would ‘besmirch’ Mr. Nabors! When he left the room in a huff, my sister and I exchanged looks like ‘Whoa!’
That was almost 40 years ago in the middle of Kansas. And at that time, ‘gay’ was synonymous with an ‘alley cat’ who sleeps with people of the same sex – ie always promiscuous. Every time I think about that conversation, though, I hear Jesus’ reply to the men who dragged the woman ‘caught in adultery’ to him for judgement:
“He who is without sin may cast the first stone.”
The interesting thing about that comment is that Jesus was the only one there without sin! He was basically saying it was HIS right to cast the first stone, and he chose not to.
I still enjoy listening to Barbra and Jim. Their presence in the world has only blessed me. As have the many friends I have gathered who are themselves in same-sex relationships. Our gay pastor regularly feeds me with encouraging sermons, serves at the soup kitchen alongside catholic nuns and his own lovely daughter, delivers clothes and food to asylum seekers and cared for his partner as he lost his battle with cancer. Throughout my life I have been working on emptying my bag of stones. If Jesus wasn’t willing to cast one, I certainly shouldn’t be!