I don’t know what it’s like to be gay. I imagine it’s something like being a Christian in a secular culture. You know people hate you and everything you stand for. So, you have to almost be undercover and wait for the opportune time to reveal yourself. Then you gauge their reaction, and if it’s “safe,” you can let down your guard. If not, then you tuck it away.
This is how I saw it work with a guy I worked with. I’ll call him Mark. In his early twenties, Mark was everything you would expect from a millennial gay guy. Lisp, theatre major, freelance graphic designer, giggling over “dick pics,” and the occasional soliloquy on why people can’t decorate their Christmas trees properly. I’m so clueless. I still wasn’t sure.
It took him casually telling a story about making out with another guy before I was finally convinced. I took it all in stride, not missing a beat or even raising an eyebrow. So, it wasn’t long before he felt comfortable with me and even introduced me to his latest crush. I was never quite sure how to respond to all of this. I knew the polite way, the politically correct way.
But what was the God way? How would Jesus have responded? I came and went out of this guy’s life, without making a single impact on him. As a matter of fact, that was deliberate. I so badly didn’t want to offend him, or make him feel judged. I even felt uncomfortable mentioning my own faith, because of the anti-gay stereotypes Christians are known to have.
Of course, Jesus would have responded in love. Show the guy love. Acceptance. But, Jesus would have left him with something more. He would have left him changed. But how?
How do we love people where they are, and yet love them too much to let them stay that way? Especially with something so politically and emotionally charged as sexuality? Obviously, my brief co-worker relationship with Mark never reached that depth.
But, as I am thinking about the Supreme Court’s ruling, I am reminded of Mark. I think the modern church has a strong, “Hate the sin, love the sinner,” approach. And despite what the news media would like to have people believe, most churches have a pretty good handle on that concept.
But the truth is, legalized gay marriage was inevitable. As much as people might want to fight it, it was an idea whose time had come. The battle for same sex marriage was won the second it was paralleled it to the Civil Rights movement. It just took about a decade for ‘Murica to come around. And largely they have.
It wasn’t hard for most people to see the parallel. No one wants to be the redneck southern restaurateur who stands in the doorway, drawling, “No hippies, no Injuns, no coloreds.” History frowns upon that guy. And everyone would like to think they are much more enlightened, much more advanced than that.
I have heard a lot of arguments against gay marriage….The Bible is clear that it’s sin. It creates lopsided families. It creates hazy discrimination scenarios for wedding/marriage related professions. It’s part of a larger plan to degenderize our culture. Historically, open homosexuality has been the beginning of the end for a culture. Homosexuality is built upon pedophilia.
I don’t know how I feel about any of those. But, on the other hand, I have seen many people come into the church, plagued with guilt and sexual preferences they can’t control. Some of them have been prominent people on playing their conflict out on the main stage of Christian culture (Jennifer Knapp, Ray Boltz etc).
And yet, with all the King’s horses, and all the King’s men, we couldn’t seem to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. Even when Humpty Dumpty was a multi-platinum selling recording artist who made the entire church cry with a super sappy song about children’s church volunteers and overseas missionaries. We liked that guy. We needed him to stick around.
And yet, the best answer we have is tucking your sexuality away, or deliverance prayer sessions that quite honestly don’t seem to work. I’ve even heard that God gives “celibate grace,” to gay people. None of this seems to be the answer either.
I think if the church wants to take a stand against homosexuality, we need to find a better way to respond. We are largely silent on the topic of homosexuality, other than to say, “it’s wrong.” But, much like my encounter with Mark, we don’t know where to go from there.
If we claim we are people who have the answers, the way, the truth and the life, then we need to have them. If we can’t find the answer, then why are we upset that the culture and the law have provided one?
The Supreme Court ruling is an indictment on the modern church’s silence. The only “Christian” voice culture hears, is a backwoods nut job version of the church, with their “God hates fags,” protests. We know that’s wrong, too.
God loves my friend Mark. God’s heart passionately longs for a relationship with him. There is a part of God’s heart that only Mark can fill. And God watches Mark, and laughs when he laughs, and smiles when Mark does right, or loves well. God is actively at work in Mark’s life. And yet, I can’t shake the feeling, that my brief moment in Mark’s life was for a reason. Did I fulfill it? Was my response to uncomfortably laugh at pornographic texts and shake his boyfriend’s hand, all part of God’s plan to reconcile himself to Mark?
Maybe. But I doubt it. If we don’t know how to impact these people, if we don’t know what to do beyond accepting them, if we don’t have our theology together, then how should we then live?