I want so badly to like my theology professor, if only because she identifies as a pacifist and feminist, which are two of my favorite words when it comes to things that end in “ist.” I hesitate though, hang back and watch silently, as I find myself doing so frequently these days, made cautious by the readings I skipped ahead to that were assigned for our upcoming class discussion of sexuality. The lingering idealist in me wants to believe that our outspoken pacifist/feminist professor will refute and not support the author’s “eloquent” theological argument explaining why he cannot “condone” the “lifestyle” of his gay friend because: “Under the power of the cross, we are not subject to our pasts, to our psychology, or to our biology.” Oh, really? That’s news to me. Here I am, paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for an integrative Christian education in psychology, and apparently psychology is erased by the power of the cross. I wonder if the news has made it to my psych professors yet, who have dedicated their lives to this very field? We better pass the message along to all the doctors and scientists too, since biology is a bust as well. Oh, and do you want to be the one to tell the little girl I know who was raped by her father when she was five, and by a whole string of foster parents after that, that she isn’t subject to her past, or should I?

And the really fantastic thing about reading this whole article was that when I started talking about it to my best friend of six years, as a sort of trial run to see if I was ready to talk to her about my own struggles with sexuality, she cut me off with: “Well, you really can’t limit God, I mean, what’s the point of believing in Him if you don’t think He can do anything.” Ok, sure, I’m no theologian, and frankly, I don’t want to get into an argument about the theology of God’s omnipotence. What I do want to get into a discussion about it how the author’s argument and my friend’s argument in support of it sound to me a lot like saying: “God has the power to make you a _____ (fill in the blank here with male, basketball star, etc) , so then if you wake up tomorrow still female, clumsy and athletically challenged, etc, then it’s somehow your fault…. probably because you didn’t trust in God’s sovereignty or something. Sure, I’ll admit that there are some holes in my argument and probably some big theological words I need to insert in key places… but you get the idea. Needless to say, love her deeply though I may, she and I will not be having any confessional, revealing conversations any time soon.

So anyway, where I was actually headed with all of this wasn’t in any of these directions, but was more towards the enlightening conversation we had in my theology class this morning about abortion. I’ll spare you the details, since I’m sure you’ve all heard both prepackaged sides of the argument regurgitated more times than is healthy for anyone’s fragile psyche, and instead I’ll fast-forward to the part where we are talking about some complexities of the loaded statements “right to life” and “right to choice”, and the blond guy in the back row raises his Ralph Lauren enrobed arm and says something along the lines of: I don’t really think rights are important here, as Christians we don’t have any rights, we just serve Christ. Is that a fact? I am twitching in my seat with the raging heat of my unvoiced words, silently shouting at him: As a white, straight, upper-middle class, highly-educated, American male, you are honestly going to sit there and tell me that you don’t have any rights? And please, I’d love to know which one of those adjectives has given you so much personal experience in the absence of rights that you now have the authority to speak to us from your enlightened understanding of just how unimportant rights are?

Maybe, instead of answering that one, he’d like to ask the fifty year old black preacher in the row ahead of him what he thinks about rights. Or he could ask the handful of women in the room who have only recently been allowed to even occupy space in this once exclusively male seminary- so recently, in fact, that the women’s bathroom just outside our classroom is nothing more than a small section that was partitioned off of the men’s bathroom a few years back. Or perhaps, if I one day find the courage to tell him and others like him, whether he asks or not, I’ll share with him what it means to me to be sitting there, in a room filled with the fellow believers of my faith tradition, contemplating the whole array of rights that I have watched evaporate before my very eyes over the past year as I begin to honestly face my own sexuality…. the right to a wedding and a marriage, to the adoption of some of those children we are all hypothetically debating about bringing into the world, and then conveniently forgetting about once they arrive into the over-crowded arms of a terrifyingly destructive foster-care system. Or even, the right to speak honestly about what I am currently experiencing within the walls of this “academic Christian community,” without risking being pointed in the direction of the section of the student handbook that labels me someone who falls outside the biblical will of God, and then provides a phone number where people who suspect me of homosexual behavior can call to report their “suspicions”.

I don’t want to “play the victim” here, to use a phrase that makes my skin crawl for a whole myriad of reasons, nor do I want to claim to be any sort of expert on what it feels like to be marginalized when I myself partake daily of so many privileges that are denied to others around the world and within my own community. But what I do want to ask quietly, insistently, is…. are you listening? Do you hear the voices that are not your own, whispering, singing, sobbing, silently mouthing, shouting, humming the lines of their unwritten stories? I am just now starting to catch fragments of their many, varied voices. I am just now starting to find my own. I pray that you are listening… that we are all listening.