I confess I have sinned against you in thought, word and deed;
By what I have done and by what I have left undone.
I have not loved you with my whole heart.
I have not loved my neighbor as my self.
Holy Week invites us to engage intensely in examination of our actions—known in Christian tradition as confession of sin—more than any other moment in the church year. Our hosannas on Palm Sunday give way to our somber confession on Good Friday, captured in the Good Friday hymn “Ah Holy Jesus, how hast Thou offended?” This meditative song always stirs my soul, especially in the second verse:
‘Twas I, Lord Jesus, I it was denied thee;
I crucified thee.
How have I denied Christ by action or inaction? What is mine to confess during these climactic days heading to the cross and tomb?
During the course of this past year, I have become especially aware of the straight privilege I am granted—even though I am bisexual.
I identify as bisexual because I know I am able to love people of my own gender and of a gender different from me. I’m not straight, but I can pass as straight because I am married to a man. We will celebrate our 33rd wedding anniversary a few days after Easter.
It is important to examine and confess my own willingness to hide behind the assumption that I am straight for several reasons. When I lay low, I am essentially sinning by omission. I deny my whole, authentic mysterious being, made by God, known by God in my mother’s womb, declared by God to be good and so loved by God in Christ that He suffered and died for me. Peter denied Christ, and I join him when I deny any part of God’s precious gift of this life.
I cannot love God with my whole heart when I am keeping a central aspect of my self—my soul and body—hidden from both myself and from others. This is what made coming out as bisexual so energizing: my heart became way more harmonious than it had been before.
Whenever I pass as straight, I do not love God as fully as I am able.
I also deny Christ’s love for me, the bi person. This is my sin, for which I seek forgiveness from God and from all those who risk so much more than I when coming out.
I pray You, of Your mercy,
Forgive what I have been,
Amend what I am,
Direct what I shall be,
That I may delight in Your will and walk in Your way
To the glory of Your Holy Name.
I love the way this traditional prayer reminds us that forgiveness is just the beginning. Praying for forgiveness is good. I trust God’s assurance of that forgiveness through Christ’s sacrificial love for me. Then come the amends.
As I see it, amends around the straight privilege I am given go in two directions.
First, by sharing my story, I hope to help break stereotypes about bisexuals. I want my experience to help us all broaden our understanding of human diversity. Expanding our minds beyond our dualistic perspective is a form of amends.
Secondly, my amends here take the form of standing squarely with the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. Because I am so solidly protected by being in a marriage with a man, this very protection compels me to speak up for those whose voices have long been silenced and whose sense of self or livelihood is still regularly threatened by the church.
Straight people do not face the constant stress that LGBT people do. Straight people need not wonder with each new encounter how they will be received. I use my protected situation to be a voice for the Gospel of God’s love for all. I have tried, and will continue to work for love and justice for God’s LGBT children in church and society. I see this as a kind of amends.
I am sure there are other ways to use this straight privilege for good that I have not yet seen.
I continue to watch for God’s direction. Perhaps you have a suggestion. Perhaps your thought will be a word from God, pointing me to what God desires of me. I keep my eyes open, as I already know such delight in following the way God has set before me so far.
Thank you for receiving my confession. May Christ comfort you this Holy Week.
Image credit: Rev. Dr. Janet Edwards