to my Christian friends who oppose same-sex marriage
To my Christian friends who oppose same-sex marriage,
First, let me just start by saying that I don’t think you’re a monster.
I don’t think you’re a bigot.
I think you’re my sister or brother.
Know that I love you deeply, and so does our good God.
I was where you are for so many years and I hated that people called me intolerant for merely teaching what I found the Bible to say.
This fight has a way of polarizing the two sides, making devils out of all of us – even the rhetoric each side uses to argue their agenda is strikingly exclusive (“defenders in the war on marriage” on one side and those “fighting for basic human rights and justice” on the other). Surely we can all admit that the conversation is more nuanced than we’d like it to be.
But I digress.
My friends, six months ago, I too got upset every time I heard about the intersection of Christianity and LGBT issues in the news.
I remember how I felt when everyone was protesting Louie Giglio speaking at the inauguration. I remember my confusion at the Chick-fil-A fracas before that. I remember my inner conflict as Rob Bell came out in support of same-sex relationships last week. I remember how upset I was at Alan Chambers of Exodus International for saying that gay people could possibly go to heaven before that. I too have ridden the waves of anger, frustration, shock, and indignant social media statuses that have accompanied each of these controversies.
I think I know where you’re at right now because a few months ago I too would have shaken my head at the misguided folks who jumped on society’s bandwagon and made their profile pictures a blasphemous pink and scarlet = sign. I would have been especially disgusted with those sharing the photo that said “this Christian supports marriage equality.”
I fear I may lose some of you here, but please stick with me: I believed that the Bible only had one view on homosexuality for many years, and that actually changed recently. I came to believe the whole conversation should be more complicated than the black and white discussion we’ve been having.
But that’s not what this post is about.
Right now, I’m not talking about whether or not Christians should approve of homosexuality. Whether or not you believe the Bible condemns committed, monogamous same-sex relationships is completely irrelevant in this discussion.
Hear me out: even if you are against the morality of gay relationships, please consider how your actions against same-sex marriage are being perceived by gays and lesbians in and outside the church.
Think about why the number one “trait” of Christianity, as reported by 16-29 year olds outside the church, is not “compassionate” or “forgiving” or “generous” but “anti-homosexual.”
That’s an enormous shift from the early church, groups of believers living in small communities and working to serve and love the city’s poor. That’s a far cry from Jesus Christ, who spent the majority of his time hanging out with society’s rejects. My friends, do not be deceived: are our communities bringing anyone to Christ by trying to legislate our personal convictions onto the lives of nonbelievers?
Back when polygamy was a common practice in the Mormon Church, we would not have wanted it written into federal law even if Mormons were the social majority. Islam forbids the consumption of alcohol, yet we should not support a contemporary law that moves to ban alcohol even if Muslims became the majority in this country.
How is this so different?
For does not Christianity spread by fascination, not coercion? By the movement of the Holy Spirit and acts of radical generosity and love, not by human law and legislation?
For the Law does not change hearts. Grace does.
Does Jesus call you to write your personal religious beliefs on marriage into a pagan society’s laws? Or does he call you to another empire, into living the reality of what he called “the Kingdom of Heaven” – a realm for the human and the broken that’s found right here in our midst.
I will close with this:
Even if your interpretation of the holy scriptures compels you to believe that homosexuality is “less than God’s best,” I plead with you to consider how showing love to our LGBTQ brothers and sisters might look.
Would the radical, Christlike love you are called to look like picket signs and dismissive Facebook statuses? Like bumper stickers and cruel blog posts?
Would it look anything like fighting a battle to forbid tax benefits, rights of visitation, power of attorney, and adoption privileges to gay couples?
I pray this is not your answer.
May such love instead look like you not dismissing but returning to the Bible and finding within it the call to truly put yourself last – and to love the last, the lost, and the least at least as much as you love yourself.