On my recent trip to the UK I met Trish (not her real name) who is married to Trevor (not his real name). She is straight; he is gay. They knew before they married, but they married anyway. She is black and he is white. Not your average English couple.
Perhaps there was an ex-gay attempt at one point in their relationship, but now they embrace the reality of their relationship, still love each other, own a business together, are raising two children and have been married over 20 years. He still identifies as gay, not bi or ex-gay, but gay. This works for them because of their love to each other and their commitment to integrity. As far as I know they are monogamous and faithful to each other. Fellow church members and friends look at them puzzled at the complexity of a mixed-marriage.
One of Trish’s church friends recently remarked to Trish, “You really do live an alternative lifestyle!”
Trish, with a bit a cheek and much insight, replied,
“As Christians we are called to live alternative lifestyles.”
Exactly. Alternative Lifestyles comes loaded with negative connotations that suggest an evil, bent, unnatural, unspiritual way of living, but for Christians and Quakers and all sorts of spiritually minded and ethical people, alternative lifestyles only make sense.
Early Quaker men (and some modern ones too) refused to take off their hats when greeting people of higher classes and when entering buildings–even houses of worship. They only removed their hats when they addressed God. They refused to bow and scrape to any person or man-made institution and only bowed to God as they understood God.
Unlike the vast majority of their Christian counterparts, many 7th Day Adventists in the US and UK eat exclusively vegetarian or vegan diets. They do so as part of their commitment to their understanding of scripture. As a vegan, I know that many people consider that an alternative lifestyle.
Lots of conservative Church leaders seem to suggest that the “god of this world” imposes on us a vast liberal agenda designed to open the floodgate for homosexuals to be fully accepted by society. But those of us who are LGBTIQ know that in most places in the world (and most places of worship), we are not welcome because of our queerness.
Churches that boldly accept LGBTIQ people do so in opposition to the mainstream attitude of the world, a mindset that has infiltrated much of the conservative church. These liberal churches promote an alternative view of acceptance and understanding that conservative leaders and non-believing bigots both reject.
And looking at the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry–with his funky way of wandering around without a normal job, and his habit of hanging out with all manner of questionable folks, and his commitment to stir up the powers that be–I take it as a compliment when someone judges me as living an alternative lifestyle.