This week has been one of the most heartbreaking, inspiring, challenging, convicting, angering, and frustrating weeks I have had in a very long time.
My heart is breaking for so many that I see who are consumed by the self-deceiving justification of accepting a less-than-the-best plan for their lives. My heart is also breaking because of the reaction they have received from so many in the church.
With the passing of Amendment One in North Carolina and the declaration of support for gay marriage from President Obama, political and moral opinions have been shared far and wide from every social media platform available. And the extent of the thoughtfulness has generally been “We win. You are idiots” from both sides of the debate.
From the right I hear, “Shameful,” and “Ridiculous,” and “Sinners,” and “We win,” and “That’ll show the world what America thinks about Sodomites,” and a whole host of other sound bites.
From the left I hear, “Bigots,” and “Idiots,” and “Persecutors,” and “Close minded,” and “Bullies.”
Lots of talking about one another. Very little talking with one another.
But what has bothered me the most has been the posts and comments and conversations from people who appear to otherwise be faithful, Jesus-loving Christians. Statements that hint at a victory over Public Enemy #1, gay people. Statements justifying hateful attitudes by saying, “We’re just taking a stand against sin,” and “God is going to judge America for the words of our President.”
For one, I’d rather hear Christians taking a stand for Christ than taking a stand against particular sins.
Because we generally only attack the temptations that don’t personally attack us as individuals. You don’t hear gluttonous people attacking the gluttons. Those who have experienced divorce don’t judge others in the same position. People who have overcome addiction usually aren’t heard judging the addict. Ever been in bankruptcy? I bet you don’t dog on people who are up to their eyeballs in debt.
Because they’ve been there. They understand what it’s like to be overwhelmed by that struggle and they know that it’s not enjoyable, no matter what kind of happy face one may apply.
Before you begin talking about the current gay marriage debate, take a moment and place yourself in the shoes of someone who struggles or has struggled with same sex attraction. Imagine an embarrassing or shameful part of your past being dissected on every news channel, social media platform and in many conversations you pass through during the day. The conversations generalize and talk about “those people” in harsh and insensitive terms (stereotypes are almost always harsh and insensitive, by the way).
Even if it’s something you no longer struggle with, part of your past that is long past, it still hurts. Because while that person you trusted isn’t talking about you specifically, you know that if you were still struggling, they would be talking about you that way.
And so it becomes personal.
I had the following text conversation Thursday morning with a young woman I once mentored through her journey with unwanted same-sex attraction:
“Bekah, is it bad that I got to the point of crying last night? This older guy at church was talking about the [gay] marriage thing… and he started more around the lines of bashing. I didn’t stay for church. But I did start crying… I just remember what it’s like on that side and hearing all the stuff. Then hearing it at church…IDK… Is it bad that I got upset?”
“No, it’s ok to be upset about injustice. It’s sad to hear people in the church who don’t understand grace.”
“Between them and people who I thought ‘got it’… it’s just… idk… I don’t understand people. Beyond that, I don’t understand Christians. It’s like they pick the parts of the Bible they like and agree with and ignore the rest. Last night reminded me why I never wanted to become a Christian.”
I hardly knew what to say to that. Except, “I understand, I also remember what it’s like on that side. When I see and hear the behavior of some who claim to speak for God, and sometimes I don’t want to be a Christian either.”
Remember some things before you speak about any sin or person entrapped in sin:
1. Sin easily entangles.
2. Satan is a liar and the father of lies. No one sins without first being deceived.
3. “But for the grace of God go I.” That person could be you.
4. The person you’re talking to may be the person you’re talking about. You just may not know it.
5. Pay attention to your conversations. Do you take stands against things or take stands for Jesus?
6. Jesus dined with sinners and prostitutes. He condemned religious Pharisees. I was once a Pharisee. Then God showed me just how much of a sinner I am. Now I add “Pharisee” to the list of self-loving sins I need to die to daily.
7. It’s possible to love sinners and also say, “Go and sin no more.” Jesus did it and so can we.
8. Jesus said the world would know we were His by our love for one another, not by the platforms we support or soapboxes we stand on.
9. Strive to be the type of Christian that never makes another Christian regret taking that name.
10. Know that you can disagree without destroying. Our battle is not against flesh and blood. Attacking people is equal to attacking your own Army’s POWs in a time of war.
Have you ever experienced an unintentional attack by someone speaking carelessly? How did it make you feel? How did you respond?
How does Scripture instruct us to interact with those with whom we disagree or do not understand?
For more information on grace-filled dialogue about the current gay marriage debate, check out the following links:
Tim Keller on how to treat homosexuals
How to Win the Public on Homosexuality by Collin Hansen
NC Amendment One and President Obama by Matt Emerson
good post Bekah.
Oh, the struggles and challenges that present themselves for those claiming both devotion to Christ and active citizenship in the U.S! The public square is weird place and it gets even fuzzier when there are issues that seem to cause division in advocating grace while still advocating Truth. Your perspectives though have proved to be quite helpful to this end.
I think your writing is courageous and I am encouraged by the grace all of these controversial topics and tagged are addressed in.I feel constantly tied in knots when it comes to the political questions of sexual ethic… but alas it is all anyone ever wants to dialogue about in sharing God’s redemptive work in and through SSA–
Grace, peace & Good Fighting!
Thanks for your kind words, Amelia! I’m certain that the issue of SSA will continue to become more heated, both in politics and in the church, in the coming months, but I’m praying it will provide the opportunity to openly talk about a struggle that has been misunderstood in the church for so long.
Blessings to you!
It is such a mess. Such a big, sticky, and strangely beautiful mess.
I think that even amidst all of the confusion, disappointment, and heartache surrounding the pastoral concerns of homosexuality and so on, the work of the Spirit happening within LGBT community is evident and inspiring.
It’s probably been told to you a number of times from people in every walk of life but there are so many parts of your own testimony that have resonated deeply with my own experiences. There is nothing like the affirmation that comes from having a picture of not just mere ‘surviving’ in the fight towards wholeness, but thriving.
I’m relatively new to this whole ‘open talk’ business but through the example of you and other writers and people willing to share the raw parts of wrestling with Truth I really cannot tell you how much I’ve been positively influenced.
If you don’t mind me asking though, have you found or run into any problems in having such a public voice in this aspect of church life?
Great question. I’ve learned that the biggest problems I’ve had have been my own fears. There have been a couple of people over the years who have stirred up problems by attempting to start “gossip mills” about me and my ministry. There is always dissension in ministry, and this one is no different. But I’ve learned that the more I trust the Lord to redeem my life for his glory, the more He has used my testimony for good. For every person who has responded negatively, either in the church or in the LGBT community, there have been at least a dozen like you who have been encouraged and empowered by it.
There is always that fear that I’m going to share my story with someone and they are going to openly reject me because of it, but I think that fear comes any time we are willing to step out and entrust our story to another person. Any objections people have they have kept to themselves or shared with people who think like them. The Lord has been gracious to ensure that the words I generally hear are supportive of me and faithful to Him.
I’m so glad that you have found your voice to begin sharing your story! God is faithful to redeem the ashes of our lives and make them beautiful when we entrust them to Him! Thanks so much for commenting; it was an encouragement to me!
Thank you for reposting Bekah. After reading your blog God has convicted, challenged, and encouraged me. I have been trying to put into words my thoughts but unfortunatly writing is not a gift I possess, so I will try and get straight to it.
Thank you for your statement, “we generally only attack the temptations that don’t personally attack us as individuals”. Wow, that hit home. It’s so very easy to point out and judge a sin when it is not a sin I deal with personally.
I have always thought of myself as someone that is accepting of other people, no matter the sin, background, religion, etc…but after thinking on this post I realized how very judgemental I actually am.
Growing up in ministry, all I ever wanted was acceptance and not to be judged and yet here I sit, in conviction for the very thing that I hated with such passion.
My head still hurts from the 2×4! Lol!
Thank you for challenging and encouraging me. My challenge is to be the kind of person that doesn’t make another Christian question or regret saying they are a Christian.