This was THE POST, entitled “the gay conversation” that got it all started. One church visit led to one article which led to one email exchange which led to a blog response which led to 300+ comments and counting. It is probably the one post I’d recommend sharing with others – not because of what I wrote – but because of the dialogue that ensued in the comments. It’s real, raw, and a glimpse of the conversation that rarely ever takes place.
This is certain. I am richer and deeper as a result of the conversation. It has led into a more continuous dialogue. Over the last two Wednesdays, I hosted an open forum as a follow up because several folks inquired about getting together for a face to face chat. Thus, the gay dialogue.
I had no idea what to expect but about 30 folks showed up each respective meeting – mostly different folks at each meeting. The first was understandably a little awkward but the second, for whatever reason, was incredibly engaging, challenging, dynamic and fluid. At least, I thought so…
Some of the thoughts amongst many that stuck out:
- Everyone has an agenda. Let’s be honest. The Church has an agenda and the Gay Community has an agenda. When people speak about the influence of Christians, consider the influence of the Gay Community. The example I gave: How many Asian males are represented in Hollywood currently [2 – Hero and Lost] and compare that to the number of gay characters. It’s neither good nor bad but a simple statement to say, “We all have an agenda.”
- The Church is guilty of hypocrisy but it does not mean that the Church can’t say anything about sexuality and sexual beauty and depravity. If no one but perfectly consistent people can say anything, who can say anything?
- The Church must apologize for many things. Many things.
- The Church must learn how to listen. We can hide in our churches, study diligently on our desks, and blog away but if we don’t know or learn how to listen, we can never even remotely come close to understanding the stories of others.
- The Bible does speak – ever so briefly – about homosexuality. But when it does, it speaks strongly. But, if we are honest about the Bible and what it says, it speaks contextually about homosexual behavior and not so much about identity which is what proponents of homosexuality often cite. And yes, it’s still confusing. But the Scriptures do speak about God’s ethics of His created order which is what shapes my convictions. I can write more here but I’ll refrain.
- This is a human issue. Simply meaning, let’s not forget that this involves people. Everyone that showed up to the “gay dialogue” knew someone – a parent, a child, a sibling, a friend, or a neighbhor that is gay. Couple gay people also were present and contributed much for many to ponder about.
- Let’s not underestimate the role and power of the Holy Spirit in one’s life. We can’t change people. We teach, communicate, lead, guide, shepherd, love, rebuke, edify, etc. but ultimately, the Holy Spirit is at work.
- The word I keep coming back to is “reconciliation.” Isn’t that the heart of what we are called to? To be ministers of reconciliation? What does that look like? It’s an immensely complex issue with many, many layers. Which leads me to the question, “Can folks still be in community together?”
As some may know, I entered this situation unwillingly. I am not afraid to engage it but it wasn’t my intent to have that engagement take place publicly. Behind the scenes, I’m now enjoying the one to one conversations and even what may appear to be friendships that are developing as a result of the conversations. In some ways, I feel a certain burden to convey to people who are on different sides of the issue that while perfect reconciliation may not be possible in our present realm, steps must be taken.
This is why I’m considering an offer to submit a book proposal with a large and reputable publisher. I’m not entirely sure if I want to or if I should, so your prayers for discernment are much appreciated. If I submit a book proposal and it gets accepted, I think I have a title for it. I never imagined that my first published book could be entitled, “The Gay Book.”
It’s been an intense couple months. There are times I’d just rather be on one side or the other. Would have been easier. Navigating the middle with grace has been extremely difficult because you take shots from both sides. “Welcoming But Not Affirming” is an attempt to navigate that middle with grace. Easier said than done. I am challenged, intrigued, and in reflection over a recommendation from a Quest congregant who suggested an alternative: “Welcoming and Respecting.”
Who knows…maybe it’ll come up in the book if I get around to it.