I Feel Ashamed of Demonstrating Love?!
For the last year or so, I’ve been following the comments section on a particular post in a blog I follow regularly. For the most part, I’d just been absorbing what people were saying about this issue, and thinking about how I would respond to them. The title of the blog post is catchy; I’m sure you’ll want to click the link:
A couple months ago, I replied to someone’s comment for the first time. Before I knew it I found myself wrapped up in an intense debate, not about the sinfulness of homosexuality, but about the Church. Many of the comment forum’s participants—many of whom were gay—seemed to think that the very belief that homosexuality is a sin is not just harmful, but homophobic, and that anyone holding those beliefs is capable of nothing more than pity for LGBT folk, let alone love!
So I advocated for my fellow evangelicals, and tried to tell them they were wrong about us—some of us, that is. It didn’t really work.
Then, something happened. I shared my own doubts about the Bible’s inerrancy and the correctness of its statements about homosexuality. And the tone suddenly changed. Knowing what I believed (or in this case, that I was doubting my beliefs) flipped everything around, and suddenly the other commenters were so much more courteous, and we made baby steps of progress here and there.
In the process of this, though, I said some things. Some examples:
“mending the hurts I and my fellow Christians have caused starts with first, acknowledging that we fundamentalists have got a WHOLE lot wrong about our approach to LGBTs,”
“I don’t blame you for throwing in the towel on the Church. It’s horrible to say, but I’m tempted to do the same sometimes, even though I’ve been accepted by the churches I’ve attended my whole life!!”
“I wholly believe that gay Christians are in a very unique and special position, especially those who grew up in a church. They can offer a perspective no one else can. Celibate gays ought to be commended and admired for choosing the hard life that they have…The same goes for those gay Christians who believe God supports same-sex relationships. They have the ability to model romantic love that is Christ-centered even though it is not straight, and open the Church’s eyes to the assumptions they have that may be wrong.”
Stuff like that. Stuff that I felt was true, and created a bridge between me and the person I was conversing with. He appreciated me for the first time, because I identified with his struggles and affirmed how flippin’ HARD it must be to be a gay Christian.
Now to my point. When I go through and reread some of the things I said on that comment forum, I feel ashamed. What would the church think of me?! I’m not propagating a constructive image of them here! I should be speaking the truth to these people more, telling them more often how wrong they are to assume all the evangelical churches across the United States are chock-full of homophobes! I should be pointing them to the Bible—not the clobber passages, but the passages about loving your enemies and withholding judgment and so forth. But instead I’m agreeing with them!!
Then it hit me. Not to toot my own horn (but I guess that’s sort of allowed in my own space), but perhaps, just perhaps, the ways I was communicating in that forum showed love to these people. It helped them to know that some evangelicals out there get it, and aren’t ignorant of their suffering. Maybe…just maybe…I was doing what Jesus would have done: abandoning what my church would think, what my religious upbringing says, and creating healthy, positive dialogue with people who are oppressed for being who they are.
I should not be ashamed of the things I said, because I truly believe they were my best attempt at agape love. I should stand by those words, and do everything in my power to fight the wrong thinking and wrong words of the church. But dang, that’s a scary prospect!