Which is more toxic: “Gay” or “But They Said”


We seem to strive on these pages after that spiritual connection of Love. That eternity of Love. That simplicity of Love. Of God. Of One-ness of and with.

And in the process suffer what I call the “make it complicated to find simplicity” routine:

In a recent conversation with another “make it complicated to find simplicity” friend, the discussion revolved around complexity. How we can talk “our own language” of complexity with ease.  The language of gently dissecting words apart, the language of imagery and meaning, the value of words, the importance of words, the translation of communion into sharing, all that good stuff.  All chasing the essence of “one-ness”. By wrapping it up in confusion and complexity in order to convince ourselves of the simplicity there all the time.

And it struck me then – and now: we writers, we bloggers, we thinkers, we “wordsmiths” … we run as much risk of alienating God’s sacred children as those we castigate.

I was going to add examples – but “castigating” it seems to me infiltrates every area of life, of living, of thought and God. That other word we avoid using – because we try not to – that less popular word: “judgement.” But to some, that may well be a simpler verdict on “what we do here”.

It seems to me that this can take on many forms in many different ways: our loving support of others, our constructive criticism with judgement, our helpful advice, our gentle urging of a particular point of view, our loving explanation of an insight, our endless questioning, our eternal making things complicated. All chasing this universal and eternal one-ness of and with God and each other. Sharing His Love. It can be taken as quite judgmental by others.

I drive my wife nuts with this when we talk. Or to be more accurate – she thinks I am nuts when I talk like this. For her faith is simple. God is Love. And then she gets on with living.

This recent conversation around “complexity” included an observation. That after Jesus came and taught, preached, healed, touched, loved and walked … his listeners went home. The majority went home. Only a few stayed. Yet that does not mean that only the few were saved. Not does it mean the majority of those who went home and carried on living were not saved.

For me it means this. One-ness runs so deep and counter to our shallow understanding. That one-ness is at the atom-ic level. Not the human-ic level. One-ness is at the God level. And the God level is beyond my understanding.

Yet for others there is no interest is atom-ic, human-ic, one-ness, going home, staying, following, making disciples, whether church is good or bad, whether praying is a job or a joy, whether ,,,, maybe ,,,, if ,,,,, should ,,,, could ,,,,

And all to often that “simplicity” is viewed as the Lost World. Rather than the “childlike” we all like to think we will eventually understand enough to master and become (might that involve “earning it” for ourselves?).

The childlike acceptance that God is God. He understands so I don’t have to. He is too big to flail me. And He probably does judge me – but hey, He loves me enough to understand.

And I wonder …

I wonder if that is why he asked me to write and publish that databurst: “Why not you” (https://justmebeingcurious.com/2014/04/02/why-not-you/).

It carried that toxic word. So toxic that few want to be associated in even acknowledging they have read the piece (or indeed any piece of writing that uses this word as a theme). Avoiding any association with it because it is infectious. That one word “gay.” And there seems to be just one simple reason for that standing back (there is no polite way I can find to say these next few words): it might damage “my reputation” and standing.

Yet if you go back there and read the gorgeous comments below, there was a wonderful courage on display by those commenters. There was huge pain on display by some commenters. And there was a compete absence of fear of that word “gay”. There was a blindness to that “toxic” word.

What did register was “But They Said”. Those brave and “gay-blind” commenters saw “But they said” as the core of that piece. Not gay. Gay seems to have been the lord having his usual fun. Inviting that toxic word to repel. Repel away from the core message. The really toxic phrase.

“But They Said.”

And as the days between that databurst pass, I think it was the “but they said” I think He wanted to highlight. The absolute toxicity of that phrase. The “acceptance” of that phrase by us “one-ness chasers” the blindness to that phrase in ourselves and others.  How “universal” that is. How damaging that is. How hurtful that is. How un one-ness that is.

And I sit here typing. More words. More “but they said” to someone else. There are times I think my wife is right. That I am nuts for seeking complexity simply to find simplicity. Yet she also says she is proud of me. Proud of how I live my life. Live my faith. Live my life.

That is one-ness.

And it is something I need to remember as I sit here typing. As my words become another potential “but they said” to another.

How about you?


10 thoughts on “Which is more toxic: “Gay” or “But They Said”

  1. Paul,
    My darling brother Patrick and I spent most of our childhood joined at the hip. One year apart. The other six had a big enough age span apart from us that my mother took to calling the two of us her second family. He was funny. God was he funny. We sang danced fought played talked and loved each other. I found out he was gay when i was 23 and he 24. I had no clue. It never crossed my mind. It wasnt a part of why we loved each other. And now hes been gone since 2005. Hit by a landscaping truck crossing the street. The only thing i have ever cared about or that mattered was that he was my brother. Not my gay brother. And id be willing to bet he was welcomed into Gods loving embrace as Gods son. Not Gods gay son.

    • Katie,

      In the vein of “but they said” I am guessing both your Patrick and our lord are both looking at you and smiling with such love.

      “It wasn’t a part of why we loved each other” – I can imagine that being the most often used phrase when we all meet again in eternity. Love is. And God is.

      And you have touched such a gentle place with your love and your loss. You are one of the lord’s true wordsmiths. “But Katie said” what God tries so very hard for us all to get.

      Thank you.


  2. I am more simplistic like your wife. Proof – I had to read both posts twice to follow you. It is very odd that many have elevated one thing above others in their sin hierarchy. God loves all and we are need to likewise. If I read it correctly, I am compelled to make every effort.

    • Mark, both posts twice is impressive! I love your phrase “sin hierarchy” – it describes so simply the sense I was left with. That we are indeed all equal – no matter how much we might squirm.

      As I read these blogs more and more, I am curious about what seems to be “ring fenced” or welcomed. By some I read with awe, others I read with a smile, and some I too have to slow down and think hard. Almost without exception there is a holding back on key phrases and topics. Makes me wonder if the “but they said” (and the equally pervasive “but they might say”) thinking and your sin hierarchy go hand in hand.

      Thank you (and my wife will usually sum up ten minutes of my confusion in one short sentence – followed by my “lightbulb” moment. 🙂

      • I applaud your diligence. I don’t mind a dissenting opinion, but I don’t have time for a pharisaical approach to sin. Too many planks looking for specks.
        I admit that I stop reading that pretty quickly – or maybe I just don’t understand it. Either way, saves me some heartburn.

      • And a big fat yes to those words. Love your phrase: planks .. specks! Simply puzzles me why having been forgiven (blank cheque – if we wish), some choose to penny-pinch.

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