With Boy Scouts of America's recent landmark decision now is as good a time as any to tackle a completely benign topic.*
Our church recently engaged in a highly transparent discussion on the issue of same-sex couples and the Church; A conversation more congregations would do well to have, and one I believe will help our church maneuver an unprecedented social issue. While we are not the first generation of churchgoers to address homosexuality, we most certainly are the first generation to navigate the choppy waters of integrating sound doctrine and inclusion of gays on a wide scale.
The maiden voyage is not going well. The flame of The Lighthouse is barely discernible.
Most of us have probably not shared a pew with an openly gay individual. However, there is a high probability we have sat next to someone who is grappling with their own sexual identity, but they sure as Hades aren't going to divulge such information during "sharing time". Why? As the nuclear family disintegrated we fabricated a new unpardonable sin. And oh the attention was fierce-some. We have bared our teeth, displayed impressive hackles and emitted guttural growls so as to leave no one unsure of our stance.
Well done, Church. Bravo.
Now that we've marked our territory, can we please move beyond snapping at each other? May I suggest we consider a new old approach? It's got a pretty good track record. I think it's worth a shot.
Love. It's a word so foreign to our tongues as we hoist our heterosexual banners higher into the air, but isn't it possible to simply love? No agenda, no judgment, no fear? Not only is it possible, but we have an excellent example in the unexpected friendship of Shane L. Windmeyer and Dan Cathy. If you haven't read this article, go. Read. Be challenged.
For it seems all chance of civility (let alone love) fly out the window as soon as "gay" enters the equation. It's as if all common ground hinges upon sexual orientation. You're gay. I'm a Christian. I guess we can't be friends after all. We have adopted such a polarizing "Us versus Them" mentality and it's horrifyingly toxic within and outside the Church. It's time to shrug off our condescension and disgraceful judgement and instead "Above all, put on love—the perfect bond of unity."**
When we put on love, we cease to identify sin as the common denominator. There is a fundamental flaw in our dialogue when we conspiratorially admit "You know what? I sin too". "Huh. You don't say..." (accompanied by stony expressions and thin-pressed lips). We're attempting to have a point of connection, but this is not it. This is a faulty premise that undermines a central part of a homosexual's identity. A handy common denominator is that, as humans, we all happen to need love. A simple "I may not agree, but I'm sorry for how poorly the Church (and Christians therein) have handled this issue. I'm hoping you will give me a chance."
When we put on love, we cease to make conversion to heterosexuality our #1 goal. Most likely the majority of gay people I talk to are not going to sway from their opinions, and I know that I am not either. That's OK. Attempts to convert individuals to a heterosexual lifestyle will rarely end well. In the end, Christ's name is what ultimately gets dragged through the mud and we forfeit the greater battle. To turn the tables, I imagine very few of us have been (seriously) proselytized by someone gay.*** Therefore, it baffles me as to why Christians act suspicious as though gays are lurking in the shadows, waiting to pick off the weak heteros in the herd.
When we put on love, it does not mean our position is altered. Welcoming friendships with the gay community does not indicate a soft stance on homosexuality; It indicates a gracious and humble stance. All of the studies we've read and statistics we've heard from the pulpit are no less valuable and insightful. However, they are just as potent on the back burner. Let's let them simmer until they are savory and instead allow love to burn brightly in the foreground.
We can yet be the generation to turn the tide.
Eyes On The Lighthouse,
*That whole "Don't talk religion or politics" advice was before the dawn of the blogosphere. Game changer.
***And sober. One too many drinks doesn't count.