I know I am late to the conversation, but I have been avoiding this like the plague. Even as I type away I am still uncertain if I should push publish once done. For the most part I have found myself avoiding giving any opinion on the topic publicly as I know no matter what I write, it would be unpopular with someone.
When discussing the topic of same-sex attraction and the debate on the topic of marriage, many extremists on both sides would have you unequivocally hold their position with no questions or debate or else feel the full force of their wrath. Not only is this polarized approach unrealistic, it is unhealthy.
I'm trying to figure out why taking a public stand on Noah or World Vision has become so important to so many people--myself included. I'm far from immune to such temptations, which annoys me almost as much as the incessant posturing that is currently "flooding" my Facebook feed. ...I can't help but feel that no matter what team I join, I'm in the wrong, because I shouldn't even be playing this game. Therefore, rather than take a stand, I'm going to seek to understand.
But with all the debates, arguments and hand grenades being thrown, I feel that something needs to be said--that I should add something to the conversation. But... I don't wish to add to the ongoing entrenched war that has been going on for far too long. I would like to take a whole different perspective on this conversation and maybe shine a light on something that has been lost. I hope you can hear my words with an open mind and understand the heart behind it. All I ask is that you put down your arms for just a moment and hear me out. Also, it is not my intent to offend or be disrespectful, as I hope you will see, it is quite the opposite. Well... here we go.
The thing that has been so concerning for me in everything that I have seen, heard and read is how this debate has dehumanized the conversation. With people on both sides so passionately holding their views, and with many opinions and debate circling around the question of if World Vision was right or wrong in either decision, I feel as though this whole debate has somehow become faceless.
It seems we have forgotten that real people's lives are involved in the conversation--real people are struggling, wrestling and making decisions about their opinions of Same-Sex attraction and the institution of marriage, their own same-sex attraction and the majority of this is forced to be done in secret.
When discussing the topic of same-sex attraction, both extremes would have you unequivocally hold their position with no questions or debate or else feel the full force of their wrath. Not only is this polarized approach unrealistic, it is unhealthy.
In my travels with people and my vocation as a pastor, I have met a lot of people who would not fit into either side of the debate and for the most part wouldn't be able to pick a side.
Think of the person who is in a Christian community, loves God and wishes to follow Jesus Christ, but struggles with a Same-Sex attraction and doesn't feel he can come out due to persecution and either never deals with these feelings and pushes them under the surface, which eventually manifest in self-destructive ways, or has to walk away from the community he wishes to call home, because he has no one to walk with him, or worse who choose to judge him as being less.
Or the person who is attracted to the same sex, yet due to her conviction does not act upon it, but she is faced with fitting in no where. The evangelical community sees her as untouchable while the LGTB community pressure her or worse attack her because they are unwilling to respect her personal conviction and demand she fit into their paradigm.
Or what about the person who calls them-self a Christian who is automatically seen as homophobic and hater of gays simply because he is lumped into a stereotype, or someone who struggles with what they believe on the matter while also feeling outraged with the hate that is shown towards her LGTB friends.
While we fight and argue and throw hand grenades at each other, real people, with real lives, real dreams, real struggles and real stories, are having to walk this out everyday, and what they need most is a friend, not simply an opinion.
All the stories above are real people with a real story, I know this because I know them all and so many more. And of course, these are unique stories and they don't always play out this way and don't have to be the general rule. In some cases, we see civility and open conversation--I have had many of those as well, and deeply appreciate that. But what has deeply saddened me about this whole debate is that it has been raging on for so long that in so many cases and what seems to be the overarching reality is we have forgotten that actual people are becoming the casualties to what has become a faceless war.
I doubt that this debate will be resolved anytime soon and we should wrestle this through with serious conversation, but, for goodness sake, let us not become people who diminish others in the process. Let's take the time to actually listen, learn, understand their story and journey and can I be so bold to say that we actively try to understand each other and first and foremost see our bond as humans as our foundations. One of my LGBT friends challenged me while discussing this post and it's content: "Actively find the face. Actively try to find the story." (if you are looking to better understand the LGBT perspective, check out her blog, she has some interesting things to say as she wrestles through this topic).
See, we have done a pretty poor job of how we have dealt with this topic, and I will be the first to say that we as Christians have set the negative tone in this war and something needs to change.
We need to step away from the cultural war that is going and instead actually interact and listen to people, hear their story and with wisdom walk with them. It is in the moments that we listen to understand and not listen to respond that we can truly get to the root of things. Now, I know that many who read this will be angry and disagree that I didn't take some position. You need to stand for freedom and equal rights! You need to stand for truth and traditions!
But please hear me out: whatever your opinion is about the LGBT debate, please hear my plea. While we fight and argue and throw hand grenades at each other, real people, with real lives, real dreams, real struggles and real stories, are having to walk this out everyday. This is someones daughter, sister, mother, father, son, brother.
So I AM COMING OUT! I AM COMING OUT for all those who feel that they can't, to be a voice for those who feel they do not have one (whatever their conviction is), who have been caught in the middle of this war and have become a casualty of it.
For the one who is struggling with your sexual identity and wrestling with what that means... I AM COMING OUT! For the one who has been hurt by those who call themselves Christians and made to feel less human... I AM COMING OUT! For the one who doesn't know what to think on the topic and is pressured to pick a side or else feel the full wrath on both sides... I AM COMING OUT! I AM COMING OUT for people, standing for human dignity, for love of one another and radical grace. I AM COMING OUT! It is only here that real conversation and healing can happen.
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