*Disclaimer: Sorry for the snark. I think.
Yesterday, I read that Christian Grammy-winner Mandisa decided to stay home from the Grammy awards ceremony, last weekend. She accepted her award in silence, in sweatpants, from behind her computer screen. (*round of applause*) I also read that another Christian Grammy-winner, Natalie Grant, dramatically walked out of the ceremony during Mackelmore & Ryan Lewis’ “Same Love” performance where 34 straight and gay weddings were performed, officiated by Queen Latifah and accented by a westernwear-clad Madonna high-fiving everyone. (*round of applause for Natalie*) A couple of days ago, Kirk Cameron posted on his Facebook page, “How did you like the Grammys’ all-out assault on the traditional family?” He then proceeded to promote his current film project called Mercy Rule, where he and his wife play husband and wife (so awesome, huh?!) and the kids in the movie play baseball and it’s always Summertime. I proceeded to unfollow his page. That kind of divisiveness and self-promotion from those who oppose homosexuality as well as those who support it irritates me to death. I don’t want any part of those types of exchanges.
Homosexuality is such a polarizing topic in Christian circles. It’s really not a polarizing topic in mainstream culture, though. So bear with me while I try to sort through some of my thoughts on this stuff, while carefully wading through the fear of everyone ripping me to shreds for talking about it at all.
If Christians could, I wonder if there would be some type of mass straight (“traditional?”) wedding ceremony that could be televised, maybe at the opening of the Olympic Games, officiated by Kirk Cameron (who gives everyone a copy of the Fireproof DVD and couples’ devotional journal as a wedding gift), with a reception led by Tobymac, with a special message from Joel Osteen and his wife. The ceremony would be held out of spite and pride and no one but Christians would watch. And Christians would be pleased with the fact that only Christians were watching. Because they’re comfortable in their Family Christian Stores/Christian Radio/Family-Friendly Conference filled life. Separate from society. On the high road. Staring up and ahead. (Ok. I’m done being snarky…I think.)
Since college I’ve had a deep, deep struggle with the issue of homosexuality as it relates to Christianity and how we a) present the truths, wisdom and promises of God, b) don’t act like aliens in popular culture and c) stop being divisive when we talk about polarizing issues. It’s HARD. I’ve been blessed to know some incredible gay people in my life. And I prayed about my friendships with them. In the end, my only instinct was to love them however possible and to make sure they felt loved by God. Whatever it took, I wanted to make it clear to them that they are LOVED by their Creator. I know what the Bible says about homosexuality. Trust me. Not only have I studied it at length on my own, but it’s been shoved down my throat by Christians I’ve met who want to be SURE I’ll let the gays in my life know that their behavior is sinful. (I also know what the Bible says about a lot of other sinful behaviors, too.)
When I started to hear how Christians responded to this performance at the Grammys, my heart hurt. How is anyone EVER going to hear about Jesus if we wall ourselves off because we disagree? What person in their right mind is going to see Jesus in a Christian person who publicly condemns people’s personhood? Now I know some Christians will jump on me here and say that homosexuality is not someone’s personhood, but I’m going to go ahead and disagree with you. Of every gay person I’ve ever known, it IS. It’s who they’ve always been. It’s much more than a sexual preference. It’s part of their personality and they can’t explain it. It’s been apparent since childhood. I can’t make sense of that, so I just don’t think it’s my place to point at them and tell them God doesn’t love them or that they’re somehow less-than as a person. I mean, really.
Yesterday, I read a comment on an article that stated, “Is it bad if I can’t help but think Jesus would’ve gone backstage with everyone after the performance and just hung out?” No. I don’t think that’s bad. It’s probably true. Even if he disagrees with someone’s behavior, he still treats them with love. Sometimes the truth hurts, but it’s ALWAYS delivered by God in LOVE. Think about how Jesus treated the woman at the well. Completely outcast by society. She was a slutty, slutty prostitute who lied directly to her God’s face. First, he called her out on her behavior. But then, he blessed her and he INSISTED on loving her. INSISTED. Until she knew she was loved. Until she felt it deep down in her soul.
I don’t know how Christians can approach this topic differently. I’m not offering any solutions here. (sorry) I’m not even really talking about rights of gay people, or marriage equality, just the way we interact with gay people. Maybe it’s that we talk with them instead of about them? Some are doing this. But they’re the minority. (In my perception)
There seems to be a separatist mentality between Christians and the gay community. Of course, much of the gay community has been scarred by things Christians have said and done. So it’s not like many gay people event WANT our acceptance or approval. I know a gay man personally who was shunned from his church as a teenager, when he finally admitted what everyone already knew- he was gay. Church leaders asked him to sit in his family’s vehicle during church services while his parents were allowed to stay. UNBELIEVABLE, you guys. ABSOLUTELY ABHORRENT. While at the same time, there was a gay couple in my small, Southern, Lutheran church, growing up. I always knew they were together. I’d see them go up to the altar to take communion and one would place his hand on the other’s back. I remember feeling funny about it, like I didn’t understand it, but I never felt hatred or anything negative toward them. They just WERE. And I just WAS. Kneeling next to them and taking communion. I didn’t high-five them or organize a parade in their honor. We were just friendly and loving and exchanged smiles and existed together.
The way this has gone so far just isn’t ok. Have we forgotten that we’re all brothers and sisters? We all come from the same place…I think it’s absolutely possible for us to LOVE each other while peacefully saying, “I love you friend, even though I don’t totally agree with how you’re living your life. I can’t make sense of it, but I hope you understand I’m just trying to do my best to understand God’s wisdom and truths. You know?” And when we speak in love like that, my hope is that a homosexual person can respond by loving us back, “I totally get it. I am who I am in the same way you are who you are. I can’t make sense of why you’re not gay and I am. But in the same way that my homosexual personhood cuts to the core of me, I understand that your Christian faith cuts to the core of who you are. And I think we can love and respect each other, while sitting in disagreement about certain things.” Say there was a woman who repeatedly got abortions. She wasn’t apologetic about it, just considered it part of her life. Would she be treated the same way that a Christian today would treat an unapologetic homosexual? I have to think no–she’d get a lot more grace and mercy and pursuance. Why is that?
One of the most freeing experiences I’ve had in my Christian experience was to become friends with a gay person, and have them treat ME with love and respect because that’s what I gave him. He didn’t look down on me for being a Christian. He knew what I believe about homosexuality and he still gave me a chance. And that felt so amazing.
Infiltrating culture (which includes this branch of popular culture that aggressively supports homosexuality and demeans Christians who disagree with it publicly) is our responsibility. Bubbling ourselves off is a sad, sad thing. Maybe if there were more unity and love present in this conversation, there wouldn’t be a desire for things like the Mackelmore and Ryan Lewis performance to take place, where the issue feels shoved down our throats. If it just exists, and if Christians just exist, IN LOVE, knowing and respecting each other’s differences…who knows what could happen. Your church doesn’t have to start flying rainbow flags outside their doors, and you don’t have to attend next Summer’s gay pride parade. But you can be authentic, genuine, loving and welcoming. Not separatist or divisive. LOVING.
I so badly want to change the framework around this. To make it possible to live somewhere in the middle. Rather than violently clinging to one side or the other, living in LOVE. Without having to condemn, take a side, be separatist, judge or scream scripture in people’s faces. To welcome everyone in and let God do the rest. Is it possible? I hope so.