While now known to arise from various factors related to biology, genetics, environment and personal preference, this non-conforming identity has historically been associated with the devil in the Bible, witchcraft among the pious, blasphemy by world religions, deviance, incorrigibility and perversion. And through the years, those forced to conform have performed more poorly in school and work; suffered physical, mental and emotional illness; and endured the distress of social stigma from family, friends and the wider community.
These dynamics were once related to a non-conforming identity known as left-handedness, which gratefully today is largely accepted and affirmed within mainstream American social norms. And now similar dynamics are at play for non-conforming sexual and gender identities.
So for the sake of caring for our neighbors and strengthening community, let’s do all we can to accept and affirm those too, especially given the tone of much public discourse on the topic these days. Those non-conforming identities are, in essence, no less normal than being left or right-handed.
Next February I will be leading a Sunday School conversation for youth and adults on “Sexuality, Gender and the Church.” If you are interested, please watch for details and join the dialog.