Welcome to “Ask Ada,” a weekly series in which we answer all those burning questions you’d rather not share aloud. Buckle up for some brutally honest advice.
My friend recently came out to me as gay. As a Christian, I told him that I couldn’t support his lifestyle, and that it wasn’t cool with me. He said thank you and then went home.
Last week, I reached out and asked him to hang out. He said “No thanks.” I reached out a few days later. He said no again. I told him that we could hang if he just didn’t bring up the gay thing. He appreciates my effort but doesn’t want to spend time with me.
How do I help him see that it’s not him I’m objecting to? How do I get him to talk to me again? Is there no compromise?
I’d like to talk about safe spaces today. I know that for most people, the words conjure up images of triggered SJW snowflakes, but since you’re Christian, I think you will appreciate a little discussion on sanctuaries and their importance.
For centuries, churches served as sanctuaries for the poor, the sick, the exiled, and the persecuted. In fact, holy places served as asylums until quite recently. Your religion (and mine, if we get technical) is built around the notion of “turning the other cheek” and random acts of kindness. Through these charitable acts, we continue the work of our Lord here on Earth. (Or… you know… we practice basic human fucking decency, whichever definition you prefer.)
Sanctuary, therefore, is important.
But a sanctuary isn’t just a physical space.
Just like you don’t stop being Christian when you leave the building, we can provide others sanctuary within our hearts. We create this safe space for both friends and strangers, and they are free to share their true selves in our presence. By being an emotionally safe person, we offer our friends a chance to speak the truth of their hearts and lay down the heavy burden of hiding in a scary, unsafe world.
When you told your gay friend that you disapproved of his “lifestyle,” you essentially denied him spiritual sanctuary. No wonder he’s not seeking out your company.
I’m not interested in debating whether being gay is okay here (a cursory glance at my byline will tell you my thoughts on the matter). I’m trying to answer your question, and my answer is this: There’s no compromise here. You can accept your friend for who he is or expect to spend a lot less time with him or even let go of this friendship.
Were you wrong to speak your true thoughts and feelings? No. Frankly, it’s better for your friend to know where you stand so that he can make an informed decision on who he spends his time with. You told him your boundaries when you said that you cannot support him. He’s telling you his boundaries by refusing your invitations to hang out.
This is a healthy way to do relationships. If you are so fundamentally incompatible, then it’s better to go your separate ways.
I know there is more to him than his sexuality. You must like him on his own merit, otherwise you wouldn’t be inviting him to hang out despite your disapproval of the people he loves. But let me tell you something: There is nothing he can say or do to help you learn the lesson God is teaching you right now.
That’s your journey to make.
Right now, you demand compromises, but this is just slowing down the learning process. So, stop and sit with your feelings. Talk to your pastor, your youth counsellor, or whoever else provides you spiritual sanctuary. Ask yourself the difficult questions that God is putting in front of you because they won’t stop. They will linger—as you plug your ears and beg for a return to blissful ignorance—until you have no choice but answering them.
I know it’s hard. But ultimately, we grow when we stop looking for what is comfortable and start listening to the pain instead.
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