Have I ever mentioned how obsessed I am with reading? It is ridiculous. I have to have a book to read at all times. I cannot go to bed at night without reading first. And if I don't have a new book, I'll just re-read one of my old ones. I've probably read each of my books at least 5 times, some many more.
I'm such a nerd.
Last May, when NC was voting about adding Amendment One to our constitution (banning any union other than a marriage between a man and a woman), I somehow came across a blog: Crumbs from the Communion Table. This guy is a Christian. And he's gay. And his name is Justin. His words during that emotionally-charged time were full of grace. He posted a response after the Amendment passed (here's the link) that I wanted to send to everyone I know. I'm pretty sure I excitedly told my husband all about him and said something to the effect of "I guess you never expected me to come to you and tell you how much I love a gay man." Bless his heart. Or mine, I don't know. And Justin was writing a book and you could pre-order it. Remember that book addiction I have? Oh yeah, I ordered his book back in May. And it came about two weeks ago. And it's great.
Justin's book is TORN: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays versus Christians Debate. It's his story: how he discovered he is gay and how he has struggled to reconcile this with the fact that he also loves Jesus and wants nothing but God's will for his life. It is beautifully written and his only agenda is that we need to listen to one another in love; and disagree with one another in love. And today I'm joining in his Synchroblog for Sanity: a call for more reasonable, respectful dialogue about this issue.
In this culture, especially in the South where I live, it is pretty obvious that we have a battle going on: Gays vs. Christians.
And that is so sad.
So I'm going to be honest, publicly, about how I feel about the issue. It breaks my heart that people who say they love Jesus are so outwardly hateful towards gay people. It breaks my heart when I hear the rhetoric that Christians often use to talk about gay people and how very unwelcome gay people feel when they come to church. Especially when we turn a blind eye to about a bazillion "internal" sins. The whole sex thing kills me: our churches are FILLED with straight unmarried couples having sex and straight married men who watch pornography. I'm fairly certain those behaviors aren't healthy for marriage and families but I don't see Christians leading any crusades against them under the banner of protecting marriage and families or trying to create policies and laws to stop them. And I don't know anyone who thinks setting them up to be the enemy would be the Christ-like way to deal with their behavior. Why is it that Christians act as if gay people are the main problem undermining the fabric of society and harming families? I'm sorry, but I do not believe there is a gay agenda.
And all of the anti-gay actions done in the name of Jesus are not causing gay people to decide "wow - I really love that Jesus guy. I want to be one of his followers."
I very openly identify myself as a Christian but when it comes to the issue of sexual orientation, I am often ashamed to claim that name. As a Christian, I want to apologize for hateful behavior, for anything that has been said or done that did the opposite of showing the love of Christ. I promise not all Christians hate gay people.
I say this a lot, but I don't think the purpose of the Bible is to find all the rules we're supposed to follow. It is the story of God and his revelation to us about who he is and what he has done. As we seek to be more like him, he works to change our hearts. What he is working on in my heart right now might not be the same thing he's working on in yours. And it is not up to me to tell you what he should be changing in your heart. Most importantly, you don't need to change ANYTHING for his love. Not a single thing.
Yes, God doesn't like sin. Sin is anything that moves me away from the heart of God. It's also something I do every single day no matter how hard I try. Thankfully, Jesus died a long time ago and paid that price - no matter how much I fail. And not all Christians agree on exactly what qualifies as a sin. Alcohol is an example. I think it's okay to have a drink now & again. Some Christians believe we should never have a drink. We need to have grace with each other and understand that sometimes we are going to see things differently.
There are people who believe in what the Bible says and are earnestly seeking after the heart of God who think that having a same-sex relationship is a sin AND there are people who believe in what the Bible says and who are earnestly seeking after the heart of God who think that it is not.
It is okay that we disagree. Unity doesn't mean agreeing on every single issue. There is room for all of us at the foot of the cross. What we must agree on is that the grace and peace of Christ is enough for all of us.
So here's the deal. Regardless of whether you believe gay sex is a sin, Jesus loves people who are gay. And some people who love Jesus are gay. Gay people can be Christians. And right now, the church is missing out on showing the love of Christ to an entire section of our population. Our actions are pushing them away. Away from Jesus. They think we hate them. And some of "them" are some of "us" and they're getting that message too. That all makes me want to cry.
We still don't know what causes sexual orientation, but an overwhelming number of people who are gay say they were born that way. And a good deal of research is pointing to genetic or hormonal influence. What is becoming very clear is that people are not choosing to be gay. I am not going to judge someone for a choice they did not make.
As part of the Synchroblog for Sanity, I'm asking for a kinder debate on this subject. Leave a comment today and I will post it (as long as it is not hateful) regardless of whether you agree or disagree with me. If you know me in real life, talk to me about it. We need thoughtful, grace-filled dialogue on this issue. And if nothing else, I hope you will consider reading Justin's book. It is thought-provoking, kind, and graceful. Unless you actually hate gay people and want to stay that way. In that case, you probably won't like it. Everyone else on all ends of the spectrum of thought on this issue: read it please!
And just to make it easy for you to get the book, here it is.
|Click to buy it on amazon.|