Throughout my recent blog series, “‘Gays,’ the ‘American Church,’ and 2 Severed Relationships” I invited us (American Church people) to embrace the beauty of our own silence longer than felt comfortable so that we could learn about ourselves from the perspective of the LGBTQ community.
Here are top 4 things I learned about “Us” from “Them.”
(1) “We” are not even close to being “Us” :: I despise the title of this post as it both exposes and perpetuates a broken reality. As I read the responses of my two friends (an agnostic lesbian and a same-sex oriented, Jesus-following man) it is clear that “we” are not yet “us.” The chasm between the American Church and the LGBTQ community is wide and jagged: “us” and “them” is our current reality.
I wonder what Jesus would say to “Us” about the way we’ve perpetuated the marginalization of “Them” in light of two realities:
- His command that we spend our lives on the holistic repair of broken relationships
- His promise to be the One who heals broken humanity (you, me, Constantine, Annika…)
(2) We struggle to embrace critiques of our perspective, posture, and practice :: In light of the invitation to listen long and to do a civility check before entering the dialogue, it was an unsettling experience to watch the predictable emergence of well-worn monologes. Being “right” seems to interrupt our ability to listen well and to learn from the valuable critique of others.
One critical critique that stood out to me that we must pay attention to is that, from the perspective of the LGBTQ community, we don’t look, act, or sound like the Jesus we follow. I am a part of this problem and, with the help of the Spirit, I intend to intelligently and compassionately be a part its solution.
(3) “Our” Bible (and our interpretations of it) is “our” authority…Jesus Isn’t :: In the comments section of Part 3, one commenter eloquently exposed our misplaced allegiance by saying, “The most loving thing we can do for anyone, gay or straight, is to point them to the Word of God….” By use of “Word,” she is not referring to the crucified and resurrected One but is, instead, referring to the Bible as our authority. I couldn’t possibly disagree more.
Simply put, Jesus is our authority (Matthew 28:18) and the Scriptures are authoritative in that they point us to the Authority. As we go to the Scriptures, we discover Jesus who demonstrates for us what it means to be fully alive as a human being that is wrapped up in the unfolding Story of God. As we meditate on the Text, we discover a God who, despite our sin, saw His image in us, immersed into the radical center of our conflict-riddled story, contended for our flourishing, repaired the severed relationship between us, and then gave us His authority to go and do the same.
Bible as authority works well for us post-enlightened American Christians whose intellectual formation has occurred primarily in an academic setting. We’re comfortable with it because we know how to read and master content without allowing it to master us. The problem with this is two-fold:
- The moment we place anything (even the Bible) other than Jesus as our authority, the object becomes an idol and we become idolators.
- The Bible has no transforming power. The One it reveals does.
Yohanna Katanacho says that the biblical text has an agenda: to change us. I would respectfully argue that God has an agenda: to transform us and that part of that transformation is informed and guided by the biblical text.
(4) Our impassioned fixation on the “gay issue” is misplaced :: So long as we continue to fix our gaze on solving the conundrum that is the “gay issue” we easily deceive ourselves into believing that we are getting on with what we were put here to do. The trouble is, while we fight over who’s right and wrong on this issue, we continue to treat the local and global hungry, imprisoned, immigrant, orphaned, and exploited with polite indifference. While we fight impassioned online and denominational battles about gay marriage and gay leadership in the church and being “open” and/or “affirming” communities, we give ourselves permission to ignore our own soul-killing addictions.
What about you?
- What did you learn about “Us” from “Them”?
- How is Jesus getting your attention?
- What is one reconciling step you can take to move toward the LGBTQ community?