I remember the day I was sitting next to an incredibly nice gay guy, enjoying a really good conversation when he dropped the ultimate conversation-killer.
“What do you do for a living?”
I hate that question. I hate that question because people can’t help but size you up when they hear the answer. I hate that question because we’re already prone to think of ourselves as human doings instead of human beings. I hate that question because of what it does to people when they find out what I do.
I’ve often tried to find ways around the question. I’ve told people I work with non-profit organizations (this is true). I’ve told people that I write (this is true). I’ve even told people that I am a spiritual guru that assists people in opening their third eye (I really like this one). For whatever reason, on that day, I just cut to the chase. ”I work as a pastor of a church.”
Everything changed. His next words went something like this:
Listen, I’m gay and I’m content with who I am. I’m sure you are going to say that I was not born this way, and I won’t argue the point. For a significant part of my childhood I was violated by a neighbor and then an uncle. Did that play a role in my sexual orientation? Possibly. I also know many people that had a trouble-free childhood and they turned out very happily gay. Regardless of how it occurred, this is who I am now and I make no apologies for the man I have become. If God has a problem with a man who tries to be true to himself, then I have a problem with a God that allows these kinds of things to happen to kids like me in the first place.
I kept thinking how much easier it would have been if I said I was a writer.
Fortunately, Jesus has a way of showing up in the middle of conversations just like these, and on that day He did not disappoint. My friend shared his heart, and I shared mine. I’ve never seen people change via argument, which is why I prefer to help people taste and see that the Lord is good.
This is where Christians tend to blow it.
They taste really bad. They serve up some really Biblical truth in some really nauseating ways. They major on minors and minor on majors. They tend to be extremely unaware of their pride, and pride is like bad breath – everybody knows you have it, except for you. It’s always easy to scream the loudest about sins you do not personally struggle with.
So why are we yelling?
I’m still not sure why Christians are so militant in their opposition of homosexual immorality while they seem to go so mild with their opposition of heterosexual immorality. I hear the concern about homosexuality and the catch phrase is often family values: Imagine how much it will mess up a child who is being raised by two women, the reasoning goes. A kid needs both a father and a mother, we say. Yet the gays I speak with often wonder how the church can talk about family values when 50-60% of Christian couples divorce. Talk about family values. So a community of people that do not stay married is trying to talk to us about marital morality. How ironic.
In light of the fact that Christians have just as much pre-marital sex … and watch just as much porn … and divorce just as frequently … why aren’t we more embarrassed to speak out on the issue of homosexual sin? Good question.
One guy said, “It’s funny how you can claim the grace of God to cover heterosexual sin while saying that homosexual sin is beyond the reach of God’s grace.”
That brings me to all the Chick–fil-A drama.
I get why Chick-fil-A day looked so annoying to so many people yesterday. I understand why people have planned a kiss-in this Friday. And I can see why people shake their heads when they read yet another homophobic Facebook post.
Church people ask, why won’t our culture repent? My answer: because repentance is a learned behavior. Someone has to model it. I tell parents that it’s silly to expect a child to repent when they have never seen a parent repent. And it’s futile to wait for a culture to repent when a culture has never seen the Church repent.
Is the real problem with our culture the unrepentant gay community? No. It’s an unrepentant Church.
I am so sorry today for all the hatred that Christians have dished out toward gays. I am so sorry for all of the homophobic sarcasm that has come from the pulpits of Christian ministers. I am so sorry for the way we pick and choose which sins to condemn. I am so sorry that we have claimed to follow Jesus while we neglected widows and orphans, and then engaged in gossip and gluttony. I am so sorry that we have provided such a bad example for the rest of society to follow. I’m embarrassed, I’m ashamed, and I repent. I’m serious. I repent.
Yet I’m also concerned that when our culture most needs to hear truth, Christians don’t know how to tell it.
We’ve come to a dangerous moment in culture, and Christians are ill-equipped to handle it. We have reached the point where disagreement is now seen as hatred. I read an article today where a woman was appealing to Christians to recognize their hateful crimes against the homosexual community. I nodded in agreement, but decided to keep reading to see how she itemized these crimes. Paragraph after paragraph described the hurt and rejection resulting from these offenses, but it took a while to get to the actual crime: Christians claim that homosexuality is a sin. I was stunned. Disagreement was equated with hate.
Christians have a substantial challenge on their hands because every generation and every culture is going to disagree with God’s truth at some point. How interesting that our USAmerican culture considers Christianity to be closed-minded on the issue of sexual morality, while the majority of world religions are in agreement in opposition to the USA position on sexuality. Is USA culture not closed-minded for claiming that all these other religions are wrong? Is it not hypocrisy to say that we will be tolerant with everybody – except the people we consider intolerant. Closed-mindedness is not just a religious thing, it’s a human thing.
If ever Christians needed some good breath, it is now.
Because we have to kiss this world with the truth of God.
The problem is, no matter how good your kiss, your breath can ruin the whole experience. And no matter how much truth we bring, if it does not drip with grace and humility, it always falls flat.
I’m not asking Christians to stop telling the truth, I’m asking them to brush their teeth.
What does that look like? The apostle Paul said to “speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy towards all people.” (Titus 3:2)
Can you imagine what would happen if an entire chunk of Christians decided to embrace the Titus 3:2 approach? Will people be staging protests and kiss-ins to protest Chick-fil-A? Maybe. But the way of Jesus is to “speak evil of no one”. Has Chick-fil-A been bullied? Yes. But the kingdom of Jesus response is to “avoid quarreling.” Is there more drama to come as our culture becomes increasingly polarized? Of course. But if God is our Father, then we have to start showing the family resemblance, being gentle and showing “perfect courtesy”. This should have an effect on the way we post our thoughts on Facebook. Or talk to angry people at work. Or wait in line at Chick-fil-A.
You see, we can’t shrink back on truth-telling or we dishonor the very Gospel. But when we bring the truth of Jesus we have to do it in the Spirit of Jesus.
Or stop being surprised when our culture doesn’t want a kiss.
Want to read more? Check out Chick-fil-A Part 2 here