What if, rather than directing simultaneous monologues at each other, we embraced the beauty of our own silence long enough to listen and learn from the perspective of the other? What, if, as we listened, we learned about ourselves?
These are the two questions under girding this 5-part series in which two gay friends have courageously, humbly, and constructively interacted with four questions.
- The context for this project and introductions of two gay friends. (Posted on Monday, 4/21)
- Can you reflect with us on your experience of being a gay, lesbian, or same-sex attracted human being? (Posted on Tuesday, 4/22)
- If you were to isolate this most recent outpouring of Christian discourse about same-sex orientation, what does the entire episode communicate to you about the “American Church?” (Posted on Wednesday, 4/23)
- Christians understand that, for whatever reason, God chose to attach His reputation to human beings…specifically to the Church. Again, in light of the recent discourse, how would you describe the Jesus that is being represented by His Church? (Posted Thursday, 4/24)
In the final segment of this 5-part series, Constantine and Annika interact with this question:
If there were one teaching of Jesus that you wish the Church took seriously today, what would it be?
I’d want the church to love itself and love others. Love without conditions and expectations. Get therapy if necessary. Do a moral inventory. Get raw and honest. Stop looking to see what everyone else is doing wrong.
Just be kind to each other, treat each other with dignity, respect and patience. Quit putting your beliefs above the needs of marginalized people. I don’t follow Jesus, but as an agnostic humanist, treating fellow humans with deference rather than disdain is something I believe ALL human beings must strive for while inhabiting this planet.
My desire and hope is that all people, whether Atheist, Humanist, Agnostic, Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Pagan, Druid, B’Hai, Hindu, Sikh and all other religions of the world, can come together, find common ground, and work together to make this a better planet to be inhabitants of and find solutions together.
I’ll cheat a little bit on this question and give two answers. While “Love your neighbor” is central, I don’t think we can actually do this well until we handle the “Love God with all…” portion. The word- (and Word-) centric approach of evangelical spiritual formation has taught us how to love God with our minds, but when that’s not coupled with equal strengthening of the heart, soul, and strength muscles, I think we miss out on experiencing all of who God is. As a result, our attempts to love others are half-baked, based in certitude and knowledge about God, not necessarily of God.
Loving God with all our faculties opens us up to the possibility that God not only speaks through Scripture and church tradition, but also through experience and the inner voice of the Holy Spirit. This may or may not change the content of our thoughts on the gay issue, but it will almost certainly change the way we speak and posture ourselves toward others.
As someone who has lived the gamut of positions on this issue – from condemning homosexuality to living as a celibate gay man to seeking a life partner – I have seen this be the case. I’d also like to advocate the Church pay a bit more attention to Christ’s repeated “Do not fear,” as much of how we respond is rooted in what terrifies us, rather than in the grandeur of God.
A Final Thought:
Regardless of where you “stand” on the “gay issue,” my hope that is we would all listen longer than feels comfortable and, in so doing, learn something about ourselves, about “the American Church,” and about the LGBT community.
Before contributing to the conversation, please ask yourself this question: “Is my contribution civil and helpful?”
If the answer is “no,” then I humbly invite you to listen longer. If the answer is “yes,” then please offer your contribution.