Wednesday, August 15, 2012

An Open Letter to my Gay Friends

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.


Aunt V said...

well said

Anonymous said...

Please keep in mind that to a minority group the "ugly vocal few" sound like a thunderous hoard. If we seem to over-react to acts of this nature it's because of the hardship and abusive comments we've heard over a lifetime. There is no one to stand up for us - we are alone - having been abandon by the "mainstream church". I certainly believe if Christ were here in living form today He'd have more than a few things to say. And, if He had as negative view of homosexuality as many in the Church I think He would have included more on that topic in the Bible. Funny that greed and gluttony are mentioned so many times in the bible as a sins and yet so many lead greedy gluttonous lives with little being said about them when the Bible so clearly condemns that behavior, repeatedly. So, yes things like this do make us feel picked on, bullied, and singled out unfairly. You ask for grace - an unconditional pardon - and my response is...maybe after the wounds heal. So I ask you, are you ready to support healing - unconditionally?

GJK said...

Oh, I have no doubt Christ would have a LOT to say to the church today (some of which I expect to say in my next post). And the reaction to the church's failure to love is quite understandable. I'm not trying to excuse it -- I'm trying to explain it. Grace may be easier to give when you understand the reasons for the failure, and that they are NOT rooted in hatred.