I was riding the subway the other day, crammed like a human sardine during rush hour traffic. I was trying very hard to ignore the couple hundred other people squished uncomfortably close in the car with me when an attractive woman in her early twenties turned toward me and said “How are you doing today?” with a beaming white smile.
I almost didn’t hear her over the music playing in my I-pod, but blinking in surprise I pulled out my ear bud and smiled back. “Pretty good. How are you?” My mind started racing. I must confess that young attractive female strangers talking to me is not something that happens very often and so my mind began spinning. “Do I know her? Where from?”
We chit chatted for the next minute about the crowdedness, the weather, and such and I was starting to relax and enjoy the conversation.
Just as we pulled away from the station the conversation took a turn.
“You know I find it so comforting to know that in the uncertainties of life that I always have the teachings of the Prophet and the elders to guide me…”
My eyes flashed down and for the first time noticed a detail I had missed with her crowded so close. A name tag that declared her to be a part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
And then it occurred to me. She wasn’t interested in ME. She wasn’t talking to me because she wanted to be my friend. She wasn’t talking to me because of my good looks or charm, or out of any real interest in who I am.
Don’t you hate it when that happens?
Now think of your gay neighbour. Do you really want to be their friend? I have had many non-Christian friends tell me about the frustration of befriending Christians who seemed to deeply care about them until they realized that they weren’t interested in converting. You see being friends with someone isn’t about what you will get from them, or how you will change them…its about genuinely caring about them whether they change to be more like you or not.
There is a world of difference between being filled with God’s love so that we want to love others, including our gay neighbours, and an entirely different thing to be friendly toward people to get our way. One is what we are called to as Christians, the other is patronizing.