I have been out and about for the last few weeks and I asked for a friend of mine to write a post for me. Unfortunately, because of the state of the church I have chosen not to reveal my guest name but I will say that shamefully, this is my bravest post yet. Please take a few minutes and read some of the bravest and honest post I have read in a while and then lets please begin this conversation. I look forward to your comments below.
My father sits across from me. He points at me, and his voice makes it clear that he can’t imagine the possibility, even as a joke. “You’d better not be one.”
He doesn’t know.
Two older men in church, whom I respect greatly, nod in solidarity. “I wouldn’t allow those people as members.”
They don’t know.
A dear, kind woman looks at me in shock. “You don’t believe in that, do you?”
She doesn’t know.
My own convention expresses its ‘continued opposition to and disappointment in’ the Boy Scouts for allowing boys like I used to be membership.
They also act with great care to declare their love in Christ for people like me… regardless of ‘perceived’ sexual orientation.
They don’t know, but now you do. I’m a firm follower of Christ, and I’m also a homosexual man. I’d like to talk about how I feel in the church, and why I believe the church should be doing better.
A few years ago, in response to an increasing number of homosexual teens committing suicide, the “It Gets Better” campaign was started. The message was a simple one: offering hope, in the form of promises that the pain those teens were going through was temporary, and that life got better. It was a tremendous success, and that phrase has become a byword for anyone facing bullying and rejection.
Contrast this to my experience with some parts of the Christian community. Shame seems to be the dialogue objective, focusing exclusively on that one facet of life. With the usual combination of selective Scriptural sniping and heated argumentation, the Christian seems to desire driving away the listener, rather than drawing them closer to Christ.
Christians have forgotten that sin can’t be shamed out of someone. They have confused changing behavior for changing hearts, and the disapprobation of the Church with the conviction of the Spirit.
The world offers pride and celebration, the church shame and rejection.
We have to change that. We have to be a place where anyone can show their imperfections and temptations.
It works. Despite the above conversations, there have been those, like my pastors, who have welcomed me in church, who honor the difficult choices I’m being asked to make, and who will be there when times are rough. Their love in Christ is based on who I am, not who I am perceived to be.
Let’s start there.