I’ve pretty much finished up Jesus, The Bible, and Homosexuality, and when I get a chance, I’ll share the major points writer Jack Rogers make. I wanted to provide a couple more perspectives on the issue I’ve read the last few days. First, from Joy at A Deeper Story:
Tuesday of Holy Week, I decided I needed to spend the rest of the week away from Facebook and Twitter. I needed to do some heart work on myself, and I knew my tendency to hide from soul-searching on social media.
Before I left, I changed my Facebook profile photo to show support for those arguing against California’s Prop 8 in front of the Supreme Court. I also shared a link to a book released that week by Jeff Chu, a man who I respect both as an incredible writer and as a Christian. His book is called “Does Jesus Really Love Me? A Gay Christian’s Pilgrimage in Search of God in America,” and I knew that he could use all the encouraging positive support he could get. Then I signed off Facebook until after Easter.
So much for Internet fasting and soul-searching during Holy Week. The emails and private messages began pouring in almost immediately. I didn’t expect my one little link and profile picture to capture so much attention in the flood of angry posts that day. I was wrong. All day, my phone buzzed and my heart ached as I watched the people of God debating laws and creating slippery slopes and toppling straw men and prophesying dire consequences for this thing or that thing.
Once again, I didn’t know what to say. I don’t want to argue these things. At several points I asked myself what compels me to make such public statements. Why do I do this to myself?
But then other messages reached my inbox, messages from friends who needed a safe person to confide in. And I wondered, how many of the loud and angry received messages like this? Who do I choose when I need to confess something and ask for help? Jesus-followers should be the safest people on earth, yet they are often the ones I hide from the most. They are some of the ones with whom I’m most afraid to be me.
The soul-work I need to do is slowly getting done, in spite of myself. I stumbled across some posts and videos on vulnerability, gratitude, and joy. One friend sends daily prayers that move me to tears. Another shared a story about the kind of undeniable personal transformation only God can do. A writer sent an entire book about Christians being misunderstood, judged, and rejected by other Christians the same way Jesus was and reminding me that in the midst of my own weakness and failures, that’s when God does amazing things.
Then I found a story Rob Bell shared in his new book “What We Talk About When We Talk About God,” about how a visit to an AA meeting changed his life.
Our need to control how others see us is like a god we’ve been bowing down to for so long we don’t even realize it. But in an AA meeting, no one has energy left for that sort of thing. You come face-to-face with yourself as you truly are.
And now here’s the twist,
The unexpected truth about admitting that takes us back to the counterintuitive power of gospel:
When you come to the end of yourself, you are at that exact moment in the kind of place where you can fully experience the God who is for you.
So many pieces, falling into place…. I need to come to the end of myself, even though it is terrifying and embarrassing. I need to help make safe places where others can do the same.
And that’s when I finally realized why I say the things I say and post the things I post. We all need a person we can trust to sit with us and hear our story, to ache with us, and to who we are underneath all the ways we’ve screwed up. We need a person to wrap their arms around us and whisper in our ear that God loves us just the way we are, and that they do too. This is my call: to be that safe person, that maker of safe places.
I can definitely relate to wanting to be a safe place for people. Sometimes, actually, all too often, Christians can jump straight to chastisement. Last week, Melissa admitted, with much consternation, that she smokes. In the over a year that she’s been coming to my home to administer the IVIG treatment, I had no clue. There are no giveaways, like yellow teeth, bad breath, smokey scented hair. She didn’t want to tell me because she thought I’d get mad. I laughed. “What? My brother smokes, too! It’s hella hard to stop… but why would I get mad?” Of course it’s a nasty little habit, and one she has tried to quit in the past. What really caught me off guard is less that she smokes, but that she was honestly afraid to tell me. Yes, I want to be a safe place for the people I love. I really hope that comes through to them.
The second post I want to share is from Ryan at Miller Time, passed on to me by my buddy Marc. Ryan, it should be noted, took great pains in writing this post. It’s obvious he cares very deeply for people and loves Christ and really seeks to be truthful and loving, which I really dig. If you get a chance, do read the whole thing. Anyway, here’s an excerpt:
I know that I’m not the first one to say this, but this next statement is my best attempt of being like Jesus living in 21st Century America. Here goes…If we were to divest the states of the authority to marry, giving them only power over civil unions (regardless of same sex or “traditional” marriage), even a large healthy section of “conservatives” would actually support a move including same-sex couples. This might sound crazy and will take time and patience, as I know not everyone likes this particular move, but I believe the wind of change is here. We can literally co-exist in tangible love regardless of our beliefs on all sides of the spectrum. This would allow everyone to really land on liberty and equality for all people as an American within a Jesus centered mindset that can say, “Give to Caesar what is Caeser’s and to G-d’s what is G-d’s…” model! And, others who are not Christian will actually respect the fact that we live in country that doesn’t force a “particular Christian” theology upon another person’s way of life!Why can’t we let local churches and couples (gay or straight) decide for themselves what marriage means to each of them? If a straight man and woman or a homosexual couple wants to engage in a marriage ritual to affirm that publicly in their sacred gathering… GREAT! Plenty of people would do that today!!! That’s why I love the autonomy of the local church. We would be allowing each local church or religious/denominational establishment to decide with any couple that walks in their doors what their marriage ceremony would look like. People could be free to love their partner and celebrate the joy of their union as a free couple.This is an act of real compassion as a Christian. I stand firmly as one who believes this would be the right move for all parties, politically, theologically and socially. This move would be an act of real love and grace, in my opinion. This treats Muslims, Jews, atheists, Christians and everyone else as true equals.In the meantime, let’s hope our government will be civil and just amongst all humanity. Last week, the heat began to rise in the court as our country’s leaders began to speak on this relevant issue that will affect 40,000 children in California alone.Sonia Sotomayor stated, “Outside of the marriage context, can you think of any other rational basis . . . for a state using sexual orientation as a factor in denying homosexuals benefits or imposing burdens on them? ... Denying them a job, not granting them benefits of some sort, any other decision?”Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, expressed his opinion saying, “There are some 40,000 children in California” who “want their parents to have full recognition and full status. The voice of those children is important in this case, don’t you think?”Think about it!This is about treating humans like humans. Rather than quarrel over the specific definition of what “marriage” actually means, as an American citizen I am more concerned about the ongoing INHUMANE DENIAL of equal rights to millions in our country in the meantime. Just because I am married to a woman doesn’t mean that I should have more rights than my friend who happens to be gay. My politics rooted in my psyche on this issues simple screams, “INHUMANE!” And, as a Christian pastor, my support for gay partnerships in our country is due to an outcry of injustice I see within many circles. It’s an outcry due to our country’s attempt to squash another man or woman’s freedom. Every human being should be given the right to live and live well! As a pastor who loves Jesus and his fellow neighbor, my loving response to my homosexual friend is to say, “Be free as I am free!”If I lose “fans” or “followers” because I got “too political” or I didn’t take “your side,” I still love you. We are all on the same team… we are all beautiful, fearfully made humans made in the image of G-d regardless of where we stand on a heated issue. I simply need to express what I think is both just and gracious! In closing, let me end with some timeless, revolutionary words from M.LK. Jr. yet again followed with a word from our good Rabbi Jesus…“We must work for peace, for racial justice, for economic justice, and for brotherhood the world over. We have inherited a big house, a great world house in which we have to live together – black and white, Easterners and Westerners, Gentiles and Jews, Protestants and Catholics, Moslem and Hindu. If we all learn to do this we, in a real sense, will remain awake through a great revolution.” – Martin Luther King Jr.“Love your neighbor as yourself!” – Jesus
As usual, comments are welcome.