Since becoming a defender, advocate, and voice for the LGBT community, I have been the toilet in which many have squatted their negative feedback. There is nothing like a good online, comment-section spanking. Or, walking through a local store only to bump into the disapproving glares of those who were once friends.
Yet, my experience, just four months into this gay-affirming, homosexual-loving journey as a pastor, dwarfs in comparison to what the LGBT community endures every moment of every day.
Sadly, the emotional, spiritual, and even physical carnage caused to supporters and members of the homosexual community is almost exclusively generated by Christians. Go figure.
Even more disturbing is the glaring reality that Christians who take a condemning posture against homosexuals and homosexuality, often have little to no personal, relational connection with people in this demographic. They harbor great energy and willingness to condemn homosexuality intellectually and biblically, but distance themselves from any personal interaction of meaning and journey with homosexual people. Keeping everything in the comfortable and familiar confines of debate land.
This is a deeply troubling reality. Ideas, creeds, perspectives, and alike are all very important. Yet, in my experience, debate is primarily used by those who simply want to assert opinions and convince themselves they have position over another. It is the mind games of small minds. Loaded with information, lacking in transformation. Debate is an effective way of dealing with the issues without the issues dealing with you.
Nowhere is this more evident than with homosexuality. Hiding behind laptop screens. Endless circular arguments. Statistics, studies, and biblical texts, keeping the heart at a comfortable, sterile distance. Church committee task forces, Sunday sermons bent on defending long-held positions. All requiring little to no soul process, faith, and receptivity to the Spirit. As Jesus admonished, one can diligently search the scriptures, debate issues of the mind, defend human, hermeneutic tradition and completely miss the heart of Christ at same time.
Perhaps that’s the whole idea. Heaven forbid Jesus gets in the way of our ignorance, bigotry and misguided theologies.
In fact, I’ve come to a place in my own ministry where with some people who want to criticize and debate me in regards to homosexuality, I enforce what I call “The Rule of Six.” Before I am willing to take one step further in debating the mere six bible passages relating to homosexuality, I suggest the person first develop genuine, meaningful relationships with six homosexual people. There’s a revolutionary concept. As those relationships emerge, there is a much better chance we can come back to the biblical texts with an open mind and heart, ready to consider afresh the Spirit of God on this matter. No, it’s not a hard and fast rule, but the idea is extremely important.
Until you have a truly genuine, open-hearted relational connection to homosexual people, you disqualify yourself from the debate, and from a position of criticism and condemnation of gay people and their supporters.
Don’t homophobe me if you don’t know me.
Have you taken the journey of a homosexual? No.
Have you taken the journey of a person who has become a gay-affirming, homosexual loving pastor? No.
Have you truly immersed your heart into the stories and experiences of people who are homosexual? Probably not.
Have you thoroughly studied out the issue of homosexuality, openly listening to voices that speak directly against your anti-gay stance and biblical interpretations? Probably not.
Chances are, you don’t know homosexuals, you don’t me, and you really don’t know this issue. You may know of them, you may know of me, you may know of this issue. But you do not know, because you do not know.
The longest distance between two points is a shortcut. And try as we may, there are no shortcuts with homosexuality.
The truth is, it’s only when we humbly connect with homosexuals and homosexuality at a personal level that minds begin to change from the heart outward. Only then, do we become willing to rethink long-held thoughts. Only then, do we start looking for ways to affirm instead of ways to condemn. Only then, will what we see and hear in front of us, through the stories and journeys of living, breathing gay people, show itself to be nothing like our spoon-fed biblical view of homosexuality.
I know, you can’t wait to write in the comment section below that it’s not necessary to look at other vantage points, nor engage in meaningful relationships with homosexual people for you to know God’s heart on the matter. It’s all so clear to you, and such things are below you.
Maybe you should pump the brakes a bit, because that’s what Paul, the biblical writer thought. In the limited landscape of his perspective and experience, at one point, he had determined that it was “unnatural” for the Gentiles to be included in the Kingdom. However, upon further information and personal experience, he later determined otherwise. Completely changing his view. He realized, he was wrong. Thank God, because guess what? We’re the Gentiles.
See, it’s easy to take shots at people we aren’t willing to sit down with. Condemn things we don’t fully understand, and reject that which challenges the very foundations of our spirituality, humanity, and theology.
There are a lot of string attached and a lot at stake. The costs of being a gay-affirming, homosexual loving person can be great.
Yet, at the end of the day, at least have the integrity to study the issue out, going far beyond the intellectual all the way to seeing through the eyes and heart of homosexual people and the LGBT community.
I double-dog dare you. Walk a mile or two in their shoes. Open your soul, humble your mind, build some relationships for crying out loud. Then, and only then, wherever you land at any given point, you do so from a genuine, humble journey of listening, relating, considering, and experiencing the issues as openly and fully as possible. Heart to heart, hand to hand.
Until then, don’t homophobe me if you don’t know me.
Not me, not my gay friends, not the gay community.
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