I’m in a unique group of people. I’m left handed. Only roughly 10% of the world’s population is left handed. Growing up, I loved being left handed. I recognized its differentness and it fit my quest to be unique in the world. I loved it, even though it does come with some setbacks. Luckily I grew up in an era that was just coming to terms with the fact that some people are just born left handed. You can’t really correct it. It’s not a defect. It’s not something wrong. It’s just different. For hundreds, if not thousands of years, it was considered everything from odd to defective, to downright evil and sinister. Here are some “fun” facts about being left handed:
In Latin, the word for left is “sinister”.
While I benefitted from the era of it being “OK” to be left handed, there were small hiccups in writing, using pens, my handwriting, my pencil lead being smeared across the page, my hand constantly bumping up against the spiral wiring of my notebook, my red, deeply dented thumb from hours of elementary school cutting with right-handed scissors. Nothing terrible, but not really things right-handed people ever think about. Most doors, equipment, utensils, etc are all set up to be used by right handers. We lefties adapt. I’m a lefty that is very strongly left handed although I still wear my watch on my left hand, use a computer mouse with my right hand, and so on.
The other day my wife and I were wrapping last-minute Christmas presents. I tossed her a pair of scissors and after she used it for a few seconds she showed me her thumb where it was red and dented. “What is wrong with those scissors!?” I started laughing out loud. “Those are left handed scissors. Welcome to my entire childhood, babe.”
The only other hassle with being a lefty is not having many people be able to teach me how to throw a ball, knit, sew, or play certain sports. When I was little I joined a softball league. It took the coaches a few weeks to figure out why I had such a terrible throwing arm. Finally one of them asked me if I were by chance left handed. “Yes!” I replied, but had been using my sister’s right handed glove the whole time, thus being forced to throw with my right hand.
I believe there were times when I was “forced” to use my right hand (by teachers, coaches, instructors), until it became quite clear that I was left handed and there was no way I wasn’t. Thankfully now we know that people are just born that way. While it isn’t the majority, there isn’t much we can do to change that fact. There’s lots of science behind it, and there’s strong evidence that it’s been consistent throughout time. Nothing has happened to make people more or less left handed. There was a point in history where we thought it wasn’t acceptable and tried to change it.
You can probably guess where I’m going with this.
I had a conversation the other day, where I heard a common point of view. I was discussing the idea that gay people are actually “born that way” and it’s not really a choice. We moved from the discussion of how there is some, but not that much choice, and what does it mean for the Christian community if indeed people were actually born gay. If it isn’t really a choice, that means we are created to be straight or gay. My counterpart admitted he could not wrap his mind around the idea that God would “create” someone gay on purpose. I have several arguments to that idea but I’ll stick with this one: God created me left handed, even though most people are created right. God created my daughter to have a mirror image heart even though it’s a one-in-a-million kind of thing. There are many parallels to being left handed and being gay. Even the percent of the population that’s left handed or gay is roughly the same. It’s just who I am. I guess I do want to delve into that comment even more. Who is man to even begin to WRESTLE with the idea (let alone decide on a position) of what God is or isn’t capable, able, or willing to create? Who is man to even begin to go down this path? Even IF (I am NOT saying that it is) being gay was a glitch in DNA, did not God create every one of us, still? Would we say this about any other glitch? And what if it’s not a glitch? What if it’s just part of normal? Like the 10% of left handers? Philosophically this argument goes downhill really fast.
Truthfully? There’s just as much “choice” in the two as well. I could have been forced, or forced myself, to become “right handed”. I could spend my life re-training my brain to use my right hand more. But it would NEVER change the fact that I am right-brain dominant (yes, your right brain controls your left side). I would use my left hand when no one was looking. I would always know that I was left handed, even if those around me didn’t. I wouldn’t be as good at many things if I could only use my right hand. I may make more mistakes, which could easily lead to those around me being hurt. My coordination would always be off. I wouldn’t be as accurate. But to force someone to be right handed does seem absurd, doesn’t it? Why? It seems like an exercise in making one’s life more difficult just to make it more difficult. What’s the point? And, you quickly can assume that it wasn’t left-handers that decided everyone should be right handed.
Time for an even more embarrassing story than my childhood softball throwing arm, although it’s about the same thing. Picture my company summer picnic. Everyone wants to play softball. I inwardly groan, flashing back to childhood. They beg/force me to play, and toss me a right hander’s glove. My colleagues are excited to have me on their team, figuring I’m a natural athlete (true, but not with team sports!). It doesn’t take long for the ball to come to me in deep left field and I’m forced to go after it and attempt to throw it with my right hand. I THROW IT BACKWARDS. In front of my entire office. Yep. I threw it backwards. I was being forced to be something I was not. I was not right handed. I lost the game for our team, and mortified myself in the meantime.
It’s a silly comparison, but bear with me. We as a culture, especially the church, make the mistake of forcing the “choice” of being straight. Most Christians believe that it really is a choice, and the right choice is to grin and bear it. To go ahead and find a good man, get married, start a family, and suppress who you really are. Clearly, it can be done. You can choose every day of your life to continue down this path. Some succeed in this “choice”. But more often than not, one day, something happens. You can’t suppress who you are any more. You fall in love with your best friend, even though you have a wonderful life and family. Someone sees you using your left hand. You realize life would be easier or better if you simply switched hands. But, perhaps the sin of it all, the worst part of this sin, isn’t that you eventually just want to be who you were created to be. Perhaps the biggest sin is selling the idea that it’s all a choice and life would be best for everyone if you just choose the right handed path. Maybe the sin is forcing this choice of this path. Then, inevitably, it all blows up one day. And, people are hurt. People that you love and never wanted to hurt. But it happened because of the idea that “choosing” the straight path is the best choice for everyone. Perhaps the church is actually forcing a real sin in trying to avoid a perceived one. Perhaps these complications and pain in life can be avoided once we can wrap our minds around the fact that God indeed can create people to be gay. Just like he created those of us that are left handed.
So far, all of our kids are solidly right handed. However, our #4 is just now beginning to use writing utensils and has been interestingly ambidextrous, trying out both hands. The other day I saw him trace a cookie cutter with his right hand on the right side, only to fluidly switch hands to finish tracing the left side. I had a moment of pride that maybe he would be my one left hander. I realized then that it’s a special thing to be in the minority, and that if one of my children is gay, I would be proud of their unique creation as well.