Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Those 'Loving and Safe' Christians

“I believe in loving my neighbor, but part of that love means not condoning detrimental personal and social behavior. I believe that by boldly proclaiming the Truth, hurts will be halted, hearts will be healed, and lives will be saved.”

Ah, the soothing words of the second greatest commandment ... "Love your neighbor as yourself, but..."

I found a lovely article from CBN that said this quote was written on the T-shirt of Christian students who wore it on campus for "A Day of Truth", the day after another group of students held "A Day of Silence" on April 13th. "A Day of Silence" marked a day when "students will stay silent the whole day, to show what they call the silencing experienced by the homosexual community."

I know. That pisses me off too.

Silencing. To be unheard. To be unacknowledged, devalued, misunderstood. Fear kept me silent. It still does in some contexts. Why would I want anyone to know that I was gay? The fear of hostility, rejection, and possibly harm is enough to keep any fragile, struggling, and confused teenager (or adult) silent. Even on a "Day of Silence" to shout out loud about the experience of being gay on campus, the Bible is stuffed down their throats as a demonstration of love (and mockery).

If you can stomach it, read the article and notice the loving and "safe" tone of the article. Is it possible to say the words "I love you" while slapping the person in the face? Can a person really say that he or she is a good and righteous person who knows the "Truth" and the "Way" while ignoring and even mocking the pain of those they're preaching to? With an unsafe and hostile tone, the article mocks the efforts of GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network) for promoting "No-Name Calling Week" and for designating "safe places" in schools where "students can go in private to talk about same-sex feelings". As if it's bad to tell students not to call each other names? As if it's bad to have a place for students (who don't have a safe place in their own homes or churches) to go to talk about confusing feelings.

Is it any wonder why there are so many people in the homosexual community that have been burned like this by those "loving and safe" Christians? I used to be like that. One of my closest and life-long friends is a lesbian. We went through high school together. We went through college together. We joined a co-ed fraternity together. I was a Christian. She became involved with a transgender individual (excuse me if I'm using the terminology wrong). She didn't know I was gay. She was essentially telling me and the world that she loved this woman who considered herself to be a man. Fearful of "outing" myself to my closest friend, I fell back to my Christian foundation - "It's wrong."

It's wrong to love like that. If you "love" the wrong way, then it must not be love and it certainly isn't right, n'est pas?

No.

Something came between us after that. I came between us. Me and my righteous faith. Since then, she's always had a hard time with the concept of God - that loving Creator who wants to save her.

We're good now though. Still friends. She knows I'm gay but the last she heard, I was way in the closet and pretty much in denial. She was sad for me. She knew the conflict that I experienced between my faith and my same sex persuasion. She knew how much it tore me up. She doesn't yet know about the recent journey i'm on or about the gay-friendly church that i've been a part of the past month and a half. She'd love it actually and it'd be a great way for her to meet a God that truly loves her that isn't represented by those other "loving and safe" Christians.

It's tough to be afraid of Christians. Being a Christian myself, it's tough knowing that people are afraid of Christians. It's hard for me to approach one that I know is hostile to anything "homosexual". Even if he or she doesn't know about me, the hesitation comes in knowing that this person doesn't love a part of me. And that comes between us. This person will always have a limit as to how much of Christ's image he or she can reflect towards me. Even if the intent is to "be a witness" to me, there's always so much that I can allow myself to receive. Is it pride on my part? Maybe, but that's not the point. The point is that he or she has a limit to his or her effectiveness in representing Christ to me because I doubt the person's sincerity of love. I'm already a Christian. How much more ineffective would this person be towards my life-long lesbian friend who's already been burned too many times by these "loving and safe" Christians?

A fellow blogger makes a post about this very issue regarding those Christian bumper sticker drivers.

What does it mean to be a truly loving and safe Christian? Is condemning someone in order to make sure that they don't get saved a part of the Great Commission that I missed? (Or perhaps it's a pseudo-Christian publicly endorsing the assassination of a world leader or his warning that Florida should watch out for hurricanes or terrorist bombs because of homosexuals - i know, i know, i couldn't get this far down the blog without making some kind of reference to Pat Robertson).

I believe in loving my neighbor, and demonstrating this love means being sensitive to those who want to love too. I believe that by boldy proclaiming the Truth that I don't know all of the truth except that Jesus loves me and us, hurts will be halted, hearts will be healed, and lives will be saved.

6 comments:

Brandon said...

*applauds*

Kelly said...

Eric,

I appreciate what you're saying... That kind of "ministry" frustrates me from believers. But I think you're not being quite fair. In light of your last post, do you believe it's possible for Christians who believe that anything homosexual is wrong to still love with God's love and be used by Him every bit as much as you can be, even though they're wrong about some things or don't understand some things?

Eric said...

Kelly,

Sure. I believe that there are many Christians that believe that anything homosexual is wrong but can still love with God's love and be used by Him effectively. In fact, there are gay Christians who don't properly love with God's love and are ineffective.

Please note that many times people will talk in general terms (ie. the Church, straight people, gay people, etc...) but of course not everyone falls into the category in context of the statement made. There are always exceptions to general statements regardless of the topic.

A very good straight friend of mine absolutely disagrees with homosexuality in general but is completely supportive of my journey. He tells me that because of knowing me and another friend of ours, he can no longer laugh at gay jokes because it's no longer funny. Knowing us makes him sensitive to 'the issue'. I don't group him or other Christians who are genuine into that category of people in context of this current post.

In this current post, I refer to those "loving and safe" Christians sarcastically making note of those particular ones on the extreme - especially referring to the ones in the article who are insensitive to people's pain.

I can appreciate that you are not one of them.

Observing the "bad fruit" in the Body should give us insight into how we can be more effective - examples of how "not" to be. I think whatever position we take in things - homosexuality, abortion, politics - I think that as Christians we need to rise above the issue and keep things in proper perspective - we are to love God, love others (without a 'but' statement as the article suggests), and make disciples who will do the same.

Thanks Kelly. You do challenge me. I appreciate that. My blog posts are generally pretty raw thoughts that I'm having at the time and so it's good for me to reprocess, reclarify, and revisit those thoughts. Blogging helps my process in that it allows me to think out loud and commenting allows me to assess those thoughts to see if i really believe it or if i'm just talking without merit. Hopefully, in this, others have the same opportunity to examine themselves as well.

Bless you!

JJ said...

Oh man, articles like that one make me livid... even more so because I can't help but think how wonderful it would have been to have a "safe place" when I was in high school... perhaps I could have avoided years and years of depression.

Of course, not all conservatives are like that, but having lived within the belly of the beast (my mom has been spearheading anti-gay-rights innitiatives for years)I have to say that most of them that I've encountered are.

Kelly said...

Eric, I totally understand the raw thoughts coming out thing. I do the same thing. Thanks for being willing to share them.

Karl said...

*applauds as well*