Over the past few weeks a lot has been happening around our world concerning the LGBTQ community. From huge things like the horrendous anti-gay legislation signed into law in Uganda and the Arizona bill that allows business owners to discriminate against the gay community to things such as the amount of undue criticism and flat out hatred that Jonathan Merritt and Kristen Powers have been receiving because of their recent post in The Daily Beast which called out the Evangelicals selective usage of Bible passages concerning the issue of Marriage Equality. These are tumultuous times and those of us who claim to represent Jesus Christ need to reexamine how we proceed forth on these types of issues, making absolutely certain that in everything we do, we are walking in the way of Jesus. Because any other posture we could possibly take will prove to be destructive in the end.
I firmly believe that you can be a conservative Evangelical and hold on to a traditional theology of homosexuality based on your sincere biblical convictions and not be homophobic. Conservative theology does not necessitate bigotry and discrimination. I speak as one who gladly takes on the label of Evangelical Christian but also dearly loves and supports my LGBTQ friends, Christian and not. Unfortunately, however, many Evangelicals seem to have continually taken a posture of, frankly, hatred in this debate. Hatred, not only of the LGBTQ community but also of any Christian who disagrees with your position politically or theologically on this issue. Now, I realize that hatred is a strong word. Whether that is, in fact, the actually feeling among this group of Evangelicals is unprovable. But whether these Christians actually hate the LGBTQ community and their supporters is irrelevant, because this is how most people on the receiving end of the rhetoric are feeling.
This is unacceptable and this has to change. I am well aware that one blog post isn’t going to change anyones mind, but the alarming amount of silence around this issue has propelled me to write. Those of us who claim the name of Christ, whether fundamentalist or mainline, have to change the way we engage in the world, especially on an issue as sensitive as LGBTQ equality and rights. We, as followers of Jesus, have a fundamental call to love every single human being and to acknowledge that they are beloved of God. Even when we disagree with them. Even if we’re convinced they are spewing heresy. The call of Jesus remains the same- love. Love means that we’re not going to take personal pot-shots at people on comment feeds. Love means that we’re not going to stereotype, judge, or condemn anyone, no matter how much we may “disagree with their lifestyle.” Love means being a gentle witness of God’s presence and grace to those who have only received condemnation, rejection, and hatred.
When it comes to the LGBTQ issue (or ANY issue for that matter), the only acceptable posture for a Christian to take is love. And despite the prevalent attitude among some Evangelicals, love does not, in fact, include making sure that person knows they’re a sinner. Love does not, in fact, include calling out the Christians we disagree with. Love does not, in fact, include putting out “Biblical values” first and legislating our Christianized version of morality. To the contrary:
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous, it does not brag, and it is not proud. Love is not rude, is not selfish, and does not get upset with others. Love does not count up wrongs that have been done. Love takes no pleasure in evil but rejoices over the truth. Love patiently accepts all things. It always trusts, always hopes, and always endures.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Love. That’s what’s needed most urgently today. Regardless of where you stand on this issue, our posture must be one of love. Because our flaming rhetoric cannot change a single persons perspective. You cannot produce positive change with anger, fury, and violence. Only through the power of loving those we disagree with in patience, selflessness, and grace can we become the channels through which God can flow and produce change in the world. The point of this piece is not to establish my political or theological position on the LGBTQ issue. While I believe this is one of the most urgent and important issue that my generation may face and while I am passionate about my perspective on these issues, for just one moment, I think it is vitally important to stop and reflect. To ask, “Am I loving (enter whatever person/perspective you disagree with here)?” “Is (person or perspective) experiencing Jesus Christ through me as I engage with this issue?” If the answer to these questions is negative, then we know that we have some work to do.
We cannot continue in hatred. Whether real or perceived, it is absolutely destructive. It’s time for all of us who claim to be followers of Jesus to begin to act like it. Especially in regards to how we interact with this issue. Because Jesus loves every single gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, queer, questioning, asexual, and straight person on the earth. Jesus loves every Republican, Democrat, Green Party, Tea Party, and Independent constituent. And he loves every person of every perspective. And because of that, those who represent him must follow in that same path. We have no excuse for the way that we have been representing ourselves on this issue. We are hurting the LGBTQ community, the thousands upon thousands of gay people sitting in our pews, and even our own brothers and sisters who share different perspectives on this issue. It’s unacceptable. It’s unloving. And ultimately, it’s unchristian.
May we all take the time to rethink the way we engage on this issue. And may we all have the humility to repent and seek forgiveness where we have hurt other people. We don’t have time to waste.