Friday, December 29, 2006

Followup to Yesterday


A further word about yesterday's post. Anonymous was disappointed that I would include a "gay" character in my book, but if you define "gay" as someone who practices the lifestyle (I would), then if a person is not practicing, you are left with a person, period. He may be attracted to people of the same gender without committing sexual sin.
(People who are married may find themselves attracted to someone else, but if they don't pursue it, they haven't committed adultery. As someone once said, "I can't stop a thought from flying through my head. I can prevent it from making a nest.")


My Fairlawn character is a young man who loves the Lord and also loves to do hair and makeup. And I've known quite a few men who fit that description, and not all of them would call themselves gay.


I've often puzzled over the following scripture (Matt. 19:8-12):


8 Jesus replied, “Moses permitted divorce only as a concession to your hard hearts, but it was not what God had originally intended. 9 And I tell you this, whoever divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery—unless his wife has been unfaithful.*”
10 Jesus’ disciples then said to him, “If this is the case, it is better not to marry!”
11 “Not everyone can accept this statement,” Jesus said. “Only those whom God helps. 12 Some are born as eunuchs, some have been made eunuchs by others, and some choose not to marry
* for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.”
* Some manuscripts add And anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery. Compare Matt 5:32.
* Greek and some make themselves eunuchs.
Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible : New Living Translation., "Text edition"--Spine., 2nd ed., Mt 19:8 (Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers, 2004).


And I have come to agree with the following interpretation:


The Lord Jesus explained that there are three types of eunuchs. Some men are eunuchs because they were born without the power of reproduction. Others are so because they were castrated by men; oriental rulers often subjected the harem attendants to surgery to make them eunuchs. But Jesus especially had in mind those who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. These men could be married, and they have no physical impairment. Yet in dedication to the King and His kingdom, they willingly forego marriage in order to give themselves to the cause of Christ without distraction. As Paul wrote later, “He who is unmarried cares for the things of the Lord—how he may please the Lord” (1 Cor. 7:32). Their celibacy is not physical but a matter of voluntary abstinence.
Not all men can live such a life; only those divinely empowered: “But each one has his own gift from God, one in this manner and another in that” (1 Cor. 7:7).

William MacDonald and Arthur Farstad, Believer's Bible Commentary : Old and New Testaments, Mt 19:12 (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997, c1995).


My Fairlawn character would fall into that third group. Here's the scene from my book. Jennifer, the POV character, has just met Ryan, who surprised and startled her in the kitchen of the funeral home she's just inherited. After he leaves, she speaks to Gerald, the mortician, about him:


I wait until I hear the front door slam, then I collapse into a kitchen chair. I’m not sure which has unnerved me more—the stranger in the kitchen, the talk of corpses settling, or Ryan Evans himself.


I press my hand to my forehead. “He scared me to death, Gerald.”

“Apparently the reaction was mutual.”

“And . . . I don’t know how to say this, but he still scares me.”

“Ryan? He’s harmless.”

Has the man no eyes? No gaydar? “Gerald—” I lean forward and peer up at his face—“I don’t want that young man around my sons. There’s enough gender confusion in this world without guys like Ryan adding to the mix.”

Gerald looks at me, his eyes clear and direct, and in that instant I realize he understands exactly what I’m trying to say. “You’re new in town,” he says, his voice cool and inflectionless, “so I don’t suppose you could know Ryan as well as I do.”

“Of course not, but I know an effeminate man when I see one. My boys, Gerald, aren’t going to be seeing much of their father this year and—”

“We haven’t really talked about this,” he interrupts, “but are you a follower of Christ?”

The question steals my breath away. I stare at him in a paroxysm of wonder, shame, and indignation. “I—of course I am.”

He lifts a brow. “That’s good. Then you should know that Ryan is one of your spiritual brothers. He’s a Christian, too.”

“That doesn’t mean—”

“He lives in an apartment in the Biddle house. Because he loves the Lord, Ryan lives as chaste a life as Miss Biddle herself, and that’s saying something.”

“I’m not implying that he—would—could—” Because my words are tumbling over each other, I pause and draw a deep breath. I’m so confused I don’t know what I’m saying or not saying.
I wish I hadn’t said anything at all. I wish Gerald hadn’t felt it necessary to ask about my spiritual life.

I wish I didn’t feel so far away from the Lord.

I prop my elbow on the table, then drop my throbbing head to my hand. “I’m sorry.”

“Apology accepted . . . on Ryan’s behalf.”

Gerald sips his coffee as I scoop up the pieces of the broken mug, toss them into the trash, and attack the coffee spill with the mop.

I’m so glad we won’t have to stay here. How could I expect my boys to form a proper masculine self-image if they shared a house with two women, an old man, a male makeup artist, and the occasional corpse?


*****


Jennifer comes to realize that in judging another, she is actually judging herself . . . and she's found lacking.


~~Angie

4 comments:

Nick said...

The concern I have as an editor is that authors who want to have a "gay" character in one of their novels, may fall prey to creating a stereotype. I'd rather see the character as an auto mechanic or the manager of a restaurant than as a florist, hairdresser, or some such predictable occupation.

Additionally the problem of mannerisms is tricky. Why give the character any distinctly "gay" mannerisms at all? Most gays are virtually indistinguishable. Ted Haggard is a good example.

Angie, I appreciated that verse and commentary from William MacDonald. He's a wonderful teacher and if memory serves, he's nearly 90 and is single. He's taken that very verse to heart.

eileen said...

I've never seen that commentary. Thanks for sharing. Seems like once again you are taking a risk and doing it well.

Anonymous said...

Angie--and all who have weighed in on this discussion--thanks for the open forum for us to express our views. Even though we may disagree, I'm glad we can hear each other out as brothers and sisters in Christ, and disagree agreeably!

Nick has voiced my concern exactly. Even in Christian fiction, gay characters are usually portrayed as stereotypically "swishy". If we are going to read another gay character, can he at least be a serious, thinking person and not a "Will and Grace" clone? I think that in doing so, you would help many of us to rethink our position on this subject.

Honestly, I'm still not totally comfortable, but this discussion has prompted me to further thought and study. I also look forward to reading your book, Angie, and seeing where that takes me.

Catherine said...

Yesterday, I was listening to the radio in the van and a woman who is the mother of a man who practiced homosexuality for a number of years until the Lord rescued him was sharing about that time in their lives. A pastor who had called upon her for help with a project to help those with HIV said that he had gone to his board of elders and that one of them objected. "Then we will have those gays coming into the church." He responded, "Good. They can sit next to the adulters, liars, gluttons and sinners."
I have to agree with Angie on this one. A person should not be defined by their "sexual orientation" or their sin. People are people. We all have sin and for you, Angie to write about everyday people gives real authenticity to your writing.