In an effort to try to “just blog” thoughts about life and ministry, here are some thoughts I jotted down in answering a question posed by a friend. The other day, Kevin asked me, “In regards to the Phil Robertson debate, where do we, as the church, go from this point as far as opening a dialogue to the LGBT community? How do we use this to show the love of Christ?” I think these are great questions to be asking and wrestling with as the body of Christ. And we need to answer them; these questions are not optional.
Here’s what I wrote back to Kevin:
Hey Kevin, Sorry this is a bit late. Don’t have internet connection at our new house yet. So I had to wait till I got to church. Anyways … some thoughts about your blog post:
Where do we go, as the Church, from this point forward, in regards to the LGBT community? That’s a great question. While some churches have made a sufficient stride in bridging gaps between both communities, the Church as a whole has a long way to go. One aspect (with the Phil Robertson episode) that really irked me, was that straight conservative Christians didn’t understand why people like GLADD were upset with his comments. For many of them, they looked at the issue in two lenses: Phil was being scolded for his Biblical views on homosexuality, and this was yet another attack on Christians and their beliefs. Basically, people couldn’t see the issue beyond themselves – and that’s extremely dangerous.
What I tried to communicate in my blog post, was that, as Christians, we need to learn the art of listening and being silent. And this is hard, even when we know we are correct in our said belief. For too long, the church has been trying to shout louder than the other sides (gay community, atheist, evolution, etc). Those sides want to get us in a screaming match, because they know in such a match we tend to fall apart within ourselves. Any they’re right, we do. So what if we learned how to process things through listening, first. What if we took time to hear the stories of those who disagree with us, instead of reacting right from the start. I’m wiling to bet we’d find a different conversation happening.
Some will refute this and say, “Well Jesus never backed down,” or “Well Jesus never apologized for speaking the truth.” And while He didn’t apologize for the truth He spoke, Christ did know how to communicate with people. When speaking to others, Jesus saw the person for who they there – people in need of Himself. He spoke value over them, showing people that they were more than an issue, a sin, and a lesser person of society. Jesus brought equality. He taught us to see and love people for who they were.
When He left, Christ commissioned us to go and do likewise. As representatives of Christ, we must do better in living as imitators of Christ.
This isn’t to say we ignore truth and we remain silent as people and culture pass by us. Rather, it’s a challenge to change the conversations and interactions we’re having. Silence is good at times. We need to listen. We need to be slow to speak. Sometimes it’s more important that people see our faith being lived out, rather than hearing us through a megaphone. In a practical sense, sometimes we need to hug tightly a gay man or woman, and remind them that Jesus loves them. That He was born for them, and that He died for them. And not only does Jesus love them, but so do we. Sometimes we need to apologize, if for no other reason but to ease up the tension between us. In times like this past week, the church needs to remember that there is no “us vs them.” It’s only “us and Him.” We are in this world together, and we are on this journey towards Christ together.
In the end, it’s a challenge to be set a part for God, and to be agents of God’s work within this world. The church is called to be different – in how we interact with one another, in how we talk, in how we love, in how we live, in how we argue, in how we value people, and in how we live out the faith we profess to believe. My heart is to make this a reality within the global body of Christ – instead of just words on a page.
I know these thoughts may be scattered, but I hope things make sense.