I’m afraid to write this post.
I’m usually pretty honest on this blog. It’s not too hard for me to lay the things I’m struggling with out on the table for you, mostly because I know I’ll be met with the heavenly “me too” chorus that I love so much. Your voices confirm for me that I’m not alone over and over and over again.
But this post scares me. It scares me because it isn’t really about my struggle. It’s a post about a struggle that belongs to people I love, people I know, people I cherish. And it’s about an issue that I know you, small sample of the world who read these words, are divided on. So I’m asking you to read with grace. I’m going to do what I can to address this topic with a lot of love, and I’m asking you to read it with love. I’m not perfect, and I have anger and sin here – read it like you know me, and if you have questions for me, ask them. Read it knowing that I don’t know all the answers, that I want to learn from you, and that I am so grateful for your opinions in my life.
You should also know that this is a particularly Bible-y blog, and if you’re new to that sort of thing or not into that sort of thing, it might not be your fave. I won’t be offended if you take the day off. Honest. Love your faces.
Shane Claiborne came to speak at Imago last week. Shane is a bit of a hero in my life, and one of my favorite humans, because his life is a constant source of inspiration, challenge, and revelation for me. Shane is a Christian dude who walks the walk, and humbles the heck out of me. You should check him out.
In his talk, Shane referenced a book called UnChristian. You can read all about it on the site, but in short, it’s a study on the evolution of public opinion of Christians over the last decade or so. I haven’t read it. I plan to, because the findings Shane quoted broke my heart.
Here goes: most common impression that non-Christian folks have of Christian folks in America, according to UnChristian? That we’re anti-homosexual.
Top of the list, most agreed upon truth, most wide-spread opinion. We’re anti-homosexual. Right up there with our being hypocritical and judgmental, both of which I honestly find considerably easier to swallow. I’m not sure I’ve ever been so stung by a statistic.
Don’t get me wrong – I don’t live under a rock. I know all about the media circus battle over gay marriage, and I’m not blind to the way things have intensified in recent years. I just, I don’t know, I wouldn’t have imagined that would be the first thing people thought of. I didn’t realize that, to those looking in, the go-to definition of Christian = Anti-Homosexual. Judgmental I’ve heard all my life, sure, hypocritical, well, obviously, but to hear that they’ve been trumped by our apparent hatred for a particular act, one that the world identifies as a particular people group? Could we have screwed this up any more royally than that?
Whatever happened to “they will know you by your love?”
If you want my opinions on homosexuality, I’m happy to share them with you. But not right now. Because right now I don’t care how my opinion differs from yours, I don’t care who’s right and who’s wrong, I don’t care about politics and I don’t care about the defense of whatever. Right now, I’m simply horrified.
Shouldn’t we be horrified? Am I wrong to be horrified? Am I wrong to be embarrassed that we’ve made such a fantastically terrible impression on the people to whom we’re supposed to be representing Jesus? How is it that we’ve invested enough of our time and energy into waging a war against homosexuality that it’s become the thing by which our belief system is defined? What happened to the gospel? Do we honestly believe that homosexuality is the problem with the world, or do we believe that the world needs Jesus? If we successfully defeat the “gay agenda” by alienating, defending, bashing, accusing, and enforcing, will we have accomplished something huge for the kingdom of God?
I don’t know how not to be angry about this. As someone with a significant number of close friends who are gay, and beautiful, and wildly different from each other, and hugely loved by the God who created them, I don’t know how not to be angry at the way they are treated by people who share my faith. I don’t know how not to judge Christians. Which makes me judgmental, and a hypocrite. I’d love it if you’d pray for me on that.
I think we can all agree that Christian: Anti-Homosexual is an unacceptable definition. If that’s the primary way the world sees us, then we are hugely missing the mark and the point. Something has got to give.
If I speak with the tongues of men and angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging symbol.
I am not writing you a new command, but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them… There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
A very brave soul approached the open mic after Shane Claiborne finished speaking last Thursday night. In tears, she confessed that she’s more afraid of Christians than anything else, that she fears the way they’ll look at her when she admits that she’s gay, that she wants to know God but doesn’t want to go to church because she feels hated.
How we have failed her.
It doesn’t matter if you or I think she’s right or wrong. It matters that we’ve made her feel hated instead of loved, no matter what we intended, no matter how much we were trying to “hate the sin” or whatever. The way we have made her feel matters. The way we’ve made her feel has kept her from getting closer to Jesus. She’s not a casualty of war or a spy or a demon or a means to an end. She’s a child of God, and we’ve made her feel hated instead of loved.
I’m not a Bible scholar, or a prophet, or a pastor, or even a very good person a good chunk of the time. But I think it’s obvious that we, the Church with a capitol C, need to do better. You and I, we need to wage our war against the pain that we have caused here. Because if we aren’t known for our love, then we aren’t living as we’re called to live. We have some serious loving to do.
Because you and I are abominable. But our God loved us enough to die that we might be forgiven, and our Savior invites all of us, gay or straight or somewhere in between, to come as we are to the foot of the cross. That’s the whole story, isn’t it?
Since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.