When I was in 8th grade my family took a trip to Washington, D.C. with our pastor and his family. That year our trip happened to coincide with The Gay March on Washington.
We did not plan it that way. It just happened (I don’t believe in coincidence).
Here I was at that awkward junior high age encountering a type of people I had never encountered before: homosexuals.
There were rainbows everywhere.
What I had been taught was a symbol of God’s promise was found strewn across the National Mall, on t-shirts, cardboard placards, banners, and even war memorial exhibits.
A banner of gay pride…
Same sex couples were openly holding hands, kissing, hugging, and having a great time.
The thing is that you can not take two Evangelical families who have very strongly held beliefs about homosexuality, who are immersed in the evangelical culture of entitlement, pop them up in the middle of a gay pride parade, and expect there to be no rubbing raw.
I remember standing in line with my young friend. We were quite a distance ahead of our parents as we encountered a Vietnam exhibit with a small, rainbow, triangle memoriam and the words: to those who fought for our freedoms while having to hide who they really were.
My young friend said loudly in response to that gay tribute, “Ewww. Gays.” To which a rainbow wearing woman behind us scoffed and shuttered, “What?!” I turned and looked at her angry, indignant face. I looked her right in the eyes and with a fierceness that I didn’t feel inside I answered, “Do we have a problem?”
She backed down shaking her head in response.
AND We laughed with our families about it later.
“We stood up to those big, bad GAYS who think they can take over our capitol… our country.”
The irony of that moment was lost on me then.
But more than two decades later it is not lost on me now.
That interaction is seared deep on my heart.
I didn’t see her humanity – because I was wearing a lens of rightness.
I had a whole book, and a great big God, and a cloud of witnesses to back me up!
I still know a whole lot of people wearing that same kind of lens who would applaud those little girls’ actions.
Two decades later – are you the same?
Because that little girl makes me want to weep.
What Makes God Weep?
Over the past 24 hours I have read many comments and statements from Christians about God’s sorrow and weeping in the midst of the Supreme Court’s ruling overturning the ban on gay marriage. It is the law of the land now. Two people of the same sex may marry – in the eyes of the Federal Government.
Legally, families headed by a gay couple have the same legal rights that are available to my family.
Gay families are not lesser than – they are now equal to.
I don’t believe that treating people equally makes God weep.
I believe that treating people as less than defiles the Gospel.
Making sure that people live by your specific set of rules… isn’t upside down Kingdom of God kind of behavior.
It is entitlement. Entitlement that is breed and fostered in the evangelical culture.
We are spoiled babies.
A culture that says we have the right to smear God’s word on everything and everybody.
We have a right to mark our territory – because this country was built on Christian values (barf).
When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled. 34 “Where have you put him?” he asked them. They told him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Then Jesus wept. (John 11:33-35)
Jesus wept – he was angry at their lack of belief.
Or because he was flooded with compassion.
Or he saw death – the consequence of sin and his spirit was grieved.
No matter why he wept – I am flooded over because my Jesus wept.
He understood their grief. He understands my grief.
He understands the searing black mark on my heart because I grew up in the evangelical church being taught to wear a lens of rightness with my Bible in my right hand with a churched people who would have my back.
I know way too many Christ-followers who weep for all the wrong reasons.
Jesus wept for the right reasons…
He wept for reasons we can not even begin to comprehend.
He understands deeper than us our lack. And he still chooses LOVE.
He chose deep sacrificial love while we were yet sinners.
He wept at the death of a friend. He wept at the sorrow he saw around him. He wept at the lack of understanding.
Many would say that they KNOW why He wept – and I think it is dangerous to be adamantly sure of anything.
We can have the mind of Christ – but few of us really do.
We should try shutting up until we are certain we do – and then probably be quiet some more. Because nothing is more dangerous then Christian certitude.
The scriptures instruct us to “…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling…” (Phil 2:12)
And so I find myself weeping, trembling through what was.
- I weep for those two young girls who grew up in a Christian culture where laughing and rejecting was commonly done, where the status of their hymen meant more than the status of their hearts, and toeing all party lines meant sacrificing their own souls.
- I weep for that younger me who did not question, but obediently followed those wise adults – seeking permission and approval. BEcause that is what honor looks like?!
- I weep for our laughter and discussion not drenched in love, but drenched in stench and foulness aided by a lens of rightness.
- I tremble before a mighty God – who sees our rightness and raises us His righteousness.
I weep at our indifference.
I weep that Christians so adamantly believe that they are right… when lives and love and families are on the line.
They shout so loudly they can’t hear anything or anybody else.
They honestly believe they know where Jesus would stand – and when did He ever do anything expected of him?
There is a prayer I have been praying over the past few weeks –
“Forgive me my indifference as I learn how to forgive the indifference of others.”
I never had an opinion about gay anything. Only the opinions I had been taught in that very narrow world of thinking known as the evangelical church.
I followed the status quo of evangelical belief without weighing any of it.
Following evangelical belief often means following the Republican party line – pulling the lever behind that curtain – not thinking through the consequences of each vote. The consequences of asking such narrowly minded, greedy people to represent me.
And while I may not have adamantly rejected homosexuals in my life – I didn’t hold up a “God Hates Fags” sign and protest outside a gay parade…
I also did not go out of my way to mourn with them, rejoice with them, attempt to understand them, to seek them out, treat them as human beings – deserving of equality both civil and before God.
I didn’t even open my life to them.
I allowed the rightness I had grown up believing to be my shield of right indifference into adulthood.
Something I didn’t dissect, exam, and lay before scripture and God – I naively allowed to be a way of treating other people – because somebody somewhere said so.
As if what I had been taught to believe was the final word.
As if there were no other voices that could speak a deeper truth.
What I learned in the meantime is that if I want to live a life that follows deeply after the things of Jesus Christ – I have to live with the doors of my home and life and church wide open.
Church that is not wide open – is not church.
I have to be open – to a change of heart regarding people I have been taught to reject.
I pray to always be teachable. Because I am afraid far too many Christians are no longer able to be taught about God things. They are right – they know.
I am afraid that one day a large section of American Christians will wake up in a corner of the room all by themselves – and in their rightness celebrate the exclusivity of the truth they have chosen – a truth they believe is based on the Bible as defenders of God.
But they won’t realize God never needed anyone to defend him and he moved beyond them to sit at the rejects’ table a long time ago.
Because in the end Love really does win because God is LOVE.
Many will say that if you stand up beside gay families then you are not a “true” Christian.
They will say if you love and respect and celebrate gay marriage then you do not hold the words of scripture to a high standard in your life.
They will say I am rejecting the truth – in favor of culture or the world or giving in to what everyone else says is true.
And all I will say to that is that I DON’T NEED YOUR PERMISSION to err on the side of love.
Did you hear that – I don’t need your permission. Love wins.
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