Today, a letter from a young woman (name changed) with a question to which EVERYONE should have a ready answer. Here is mine…
You may not remember me, but my name is Jocelyn. You gave me a free copy of your book Engendered when you came to speak at [a certain venue] and signed it on the condition that I would email you when I was done reading it.
Well, it took me a while to finish the book, but I never forgot my promise to email you. Your book helped me think more deeply than I ever had before about gender, encouraging me to discover for myself what gender is and why we should celebrate it. Though some things in the book were uncomfortable to think about or difficult to understand, it has given me a deeper understanding of something that is becoming more and more critical to understand in today’s culture.
I had a question for you: Recently, I found out that one of my friends has decided that she is gay. She just mentioned it in passing and I didn’t press the matter, but if it comes up again, how should I interact with her? I want to be a light to her, but I’m not completely sure how to do that. Is same-sex attraction (SSA) always a sign of “unfulfilled desire for womanhood”?
Hey, so good to hear from you. You are definitely a woman of your word in remembering to write to me. And I am impressed that you persevered through the book even though parts of it were challenging. These qualities are going to carry you far in life.
You ask some good questions, and ones that everyone needs to have an answer for in today’s world. Because if one hasn’t had a friend or relative make a mentioning like this, one will. No matter who you are.
So, as you ask, what can you assume about the cause of your friend’s SSA? And more importantly, how should you interact with her as a Christian, to be the light you wish to be?
Women’s monogendered relationships are different from men’s. This should not be surprising because men and women are different, right? So their steps to a decision to embrace a monogendered union are different. A grown man’s felt need for romantic union with another man usually presents as a viscerally physical desire, while very often women who engage in a monogendered union the first time don’t start seeking one out. They more often fall into it. It grows from an emotional connection that feels like the safe place that that woman craves. As men and women, we both have physical and emotional needs, but usually the felt need in each gender is more one than the other, and therefore more prominent in pursuing a monogendered union.
I say “usually” because our relationships and our sexuality are big and complex, and not everyone has the same story. I have counseled with a couple of women who simply had a strong physical, sexual desire for other women. That seemed to be it. But, again, that was only two women. Most of the time, though, there has been a traumatic experience with a man, and another caring woman is just easier to connect with, and so, why not? Lesbians have a much higher incidence of abuse from a man in their past history than does the general population. Much higher. That is not a statistic you will likely hear on T.V. but it is nonetheless the case. Other times, high school girls proclaim themselves gay because, in their circles, it is the cool thing to do.
The lesson here is that you shouldn’t assume what is up with your friend without talking to her. Sure, underneath there is a seeking for something about womanhood somehow and that seeking is outside of what God calls her to, but you don’t know the “somehow” yet.
So talk to her. And I wouldn’t wait for it just to come up again. If she told you, that means that she wants you to know. Asking “How did that come about…?” “For how long…?” “What brought you to that place…?” is the loving thing to do and will show your friend that you care. You don’t have to surrender your own convictions about gender in relationships to care about her.
In fact, the best way for you to be a light to her, as you desire, is to be someone who listens. God may then give you an opportunity at some point to express your own belief that monogendered unions are not God’s way for us. And that things could be different even for her. But that will be all the more powerful if she knows you haven’t rejected her for decisions she has made.
When God places someone challenging in our lives to love, it always works both ways. We learn and grow as we give love.
Yours in Truth,