“Do you have ‘tendencies?’”
“You do like men, right?”
“So…are you, you know, a lesbian?”
As Executive Director of LOVEboldly, I am sometimes mistaken for a lesbian, and these are all questions I have been asked (directly or indirectly) in the past several months. It seems logical for most people to assume I at least have “tendencies” (their word, not mine) towards the same sex because of the work I do. Adding to the “suspicions” could be the fact that I’m single and I just happen to live with my very best friend (another female) and, the two of us are very open about our very platonic, but deep, love and appreciation for one another.
For the last few years I have had numerous conversations with folks who have inquired about my sexuality and have even had to assure a man or two that yes indeed, I do like men and no, he is not about to accidentally get caught dating a lesbian if he takes me out. I like men. It just so happens that muscles, testosterone, five o’clock shadows, and foot-in-mouth syndrome all really do it for me apparently.
There is one reason alone that causes me to really, truly, deeply despise being mistaken for a lesbian and it has nothing to do with a misguided sense of pride in my heterosexuality nor a fearing that my femininity, morality, or character is being called into question. I hate being mistaken for a lesbian because those who do so demonstrate a very sad truth: that we have become so terribly self-consumed, self-interested, and self-protecting that we must assume that anyone interested in helping someone is doing so for their own personal gain.
No, I’m not a lesbian. I just love Jesus, and I love those whom he loves.
Every time someone mistakes me for a lesbian because of the work that I do, I am reminded that the world has grown to believe that true self-giving, sacrificial love that doesn’t serve a personal gain just doesn’t exist anymore. So, of course, I must be a lesbian or else, why would I do this work? True compassion and goodness towards others has become an outlandish notion in our hedonistic, self-absorbed culture. I see it held within the disbelieving eyes of all who struggle to believe that I really am straight.
Sacrificial love is exactly the kind that Christ demonstrated for us, and it’s exactly the kind we are called to. When people ask me why I do this work as a straight Christian my answer is always the same: I do it for love of God. He loved me sacrificially, so also must I love others sacrificially, and lay down my life for them. The man who washed Judas’ feet stood nothing to gain save further humiliating himself in front of his betrayer – yet he did it anyway for love of God and love of his neighbor, even his enemy. This is how we are called to live. We do what he modeled not because of what we gain, but because He has done it for us first.
Someday perhaps people will be familiar enough with this kind of bold love that they won’t automatically assume that I have ‘tendencies’ anymore. Until then, I suppose I’ll just smile to myself every time I have to reassure someone that muscles, testosterone, five o’clock shadows, and foot-in-mouth syndrome still really do it for me.
Who is it, what people group is it, that you hold nothing in common with, yet towards whom you can seize the opportunity to selflessly serve this week? This is what bold love means: serving others because we are called to obedience, no matter whether we anticipate gaining a stitch of self-reward from it or not.