Yesterday afternoon a friend of ours who's a gifted carpenter came by, vehicle loaded with an impressive array of power tools, to help us in our ongoing garage renovations -- to finish a window and doorways, to cut down a workbench to a reasonable height.
Our friend has just gotten out of a disastrous relationship -- controlling behavior, passive aggression, belittling/patronizing, lying and, it turns out, infidelity.
"I just want to find someone nice," our friend said, sadly. "Why is that so hard?"
Making things worse was the other party's wearing of religion on her sleeve: Her sending her kids to parochial schools; two previous relationships sanctified in a church setting; her disapproval of our friend for "not wanting to talk about faith stuff."
"I have a whole new perspective on the kind of people who go to church," our friend muttered.
This type of behavior -- in the lesbian community and in the Christian community alike -- disheartens me. I hate the idea that someone who is not a part of the faith community can be hurt so badly by a fruitcake Christian; someone who doesn't get the idea that, as Christians, our relationships need to be grounded in mutual, self-giving respect and love. I also hate the idea of involving minor children -- and they will be involved, no matter what school they go to or how many weekends they're sent to the non-custodial parent or how platonic their parent attempts to paint her or his latest love interest -- in serial relationships.
Yes, we all sin and fall short of the glory of God. Yes, church is a hospital for sinners, not a hotel for saints. No, we don't always live up to our reputations as followers of Christ. No, we don't always treat other people, including our loved ones, the way we wish to be treated. But you know what? First we need to get honest about that, and then we make an effort to change the behaviors we know hurt other people and keep us from our own potential as persons who help mend the broken places in the world. We make ourselves accountable to something other than our own inclinations at any given moment.
It seems to me, in my currently peevish frame of mind, that 12-Step programs seem to do a better job at this than most churches. But even then, "First you need to admit that you have a problem."