All of you know me and know I love you. I sincerely hope you read this in the spirit in which it is intended. This whole Chik-fil-A thing clearly poured salt on some open wounds and requires some post-mortem analysis, I think. For those of you associating ugliness from that day with the evangelical church, let me try to explain some things.
You know that Christians are not always Christ-like. Most of you, my gay friends, are Christians, and you know you’re not always Christ-like either.
The vast majority of evangelical Christians do not hate you. They are not afraid of you, as that ridiculously over-used term “homophobic” implies. They don’t sit around smugly thinking, “Well, you asked for it,” when they hear of the pain you experience. Most of them feel genuine grief over the pain you experience. In fact, “grief” probably sums up their feelings about your situation. They believe God has better for you, and they’re so sad that you’re not experiencing that.
But that’s only how they feel about the whole sexuality thing. That’s not how they feel about YOU. They define YOU by more than your sexuality . . . or they try to. Sometimes that’s hard if it seems like it’s all you define yourself by. Some of you, my personal gay friends, have told me how frustrated you are also when gays do that.
I’ll admit, many Christians may question whether or not you’re genuinely saved. But don’t you question whether or not some of them are genuinely saved? That’s not productive behavior for any of us.
I’ll admit, a lot of them are uncomfortable around you. In some cases, that’s because they’ve cocooned themselves away from the world as much as possible, looking for a safe, easy life from the safe, easy god they’ve created in their mind – and you represent an unwelcome invasion of real life into their cocoon. Don’t judge them too harshly. History is replete with examples of people surrounding themselves with “their own kind” to affirm who they are. It's an instinct, one tough to fight.
In other cases, though, it’s because, frankly, they don’t know what to do with you. This ideal of hating sin but loving the sinner is one that only Jesus was able to perfect. They likely feel the same way about you as they feel about their cousin who is living with his girlfriend, or their neighbor who slyly admits to using pornography, or the elder at their church who clearly has too much love for his wealth.
They LOVE that cousin, that neighbor, that elder. And they’re afraid for that person. They’re afraid to keep their mouth shut and allow the sin to continue and grow and fester and hurt the person they love and damage the faith community. But they’re also afraid to speak up and be castigated for doing so, labeled intolerant and hateful. And they're afraid of their own sins being cast in their face in retribution. And they’re also afraid of being totally wrong in their assessment of the situation.
So, often only the callous have the courage to speak up, and they don’t speak well. And the fearful who don’t speak up are too fearful to try to fix the mistakes of the callous. And because it all comes out badly, the gay community believes bad things about the church as a whole . . . and the few Christians who get it right are put in the bad camp without a proper hearing.
It’s all kind of a mess, and it all makes me very sad. I’m sorry it got this way. Jesus said his disciples would be known by their love, and we are not. The church is made up of sinful human beings (like yourselves) and a whole lot of us are, unfortunately, not as dedicated to Jesus as we are to our own self-drawn picture of Christianity and a Christian nation. I ask you to give us some grace. And I ask you not to judge us by the ugly vocal few – just as you don’t want to be judged by the ugly vocal few. And when that handful of us get this love thing close to right, please also give us a fair hearing.