Yesterday felt like another one of those days that will be starred and underlined in the history books forever after. This is the day when the Defense of Marriage Act was declared unconstitutional.
For the Queer community, this is very exciting! Finally same-sex couples and international same-sex couples can establish families that have the legal and financial rights and benefits they have been denied for so long.
For the Church communities, I imagine there is some consternation. Religion no longer has the monopoly on marriage. And yet, a day later, seems like the world is still turning, same as the day before.
This entry is mostly directed at the Church and all who call themselves followers of Jesus. Specifically, I speak to those who are brave enough to talk about things that make them uncomfortable. Things that are different that they don’t easily understand.
Whatever you think about marriage equality and the Queer community, they’re not going away anytime soon. No matter your opinions about DOMA being repealed, you Christian, have a plethora of opportunities.
I will explain. If Jesus followers hold tightly the value of someday inviting all people into a peace-filled relationship with Christ, I’m going to make the assumption that they also value conversations that lead to long lasting relationships with said “all people.” My logic is that, in order to succeed in the Great Commission, there must be relationship and in order for their to be relationship, there must be conversation.
So what does that have to do with DOMA?
One of the best ways to connect with people is to talk about what’s important to that person. Marriage equality is extremely important to our Queer brothers and sisters. If we want to reach outside our sphere, connect with the men and women and transgendered persons of the Queer community, talking about Marriage Equality would be a great start.
And by talking about Marriage Equality, I’m not talking about you saying all the reasons you disagree with same-sex couples and all the reasons you might think it’s wrong. I’m not talking about you talking at a Queer person and saying all the things that you think and how you see the world. There will be a place for that, but it’s not at the start of the conversation.
In general, I’m concerned about how this particular conversation has historically been handled by the Church. Even if we could definitively show that a same sex coupling is only ever always bad for everyone, the committed and monogamous same-sex couples that already exist don’t see it. They see that they’ve found a person with whom to be safe and secure and free. Tell them straight up that they’re wrong about how they live and they’ll laugh in your face.
What I mean to say is that I think the church is approaching this whole question all wrong. In general, we skip to our punch line(“You’re a sinner!”) without first having a conversation(“By the way, How did you come to live how you live?”)
The thing that I perceive is that people in the church think that, just because they have the Truth, capital T, they can throw it around however they want, with whatever words they want, and not have to worry about how they present themselves. Sinners will be saved if they are willing and if they reject the gospel, then they’re just hard hearted. (Or could it be that they’re just turned off by rude and insensitive christians?)
The other thing I perceive is that many individuals in the Church community have an under-developed understanding of what Gay is and isn’t. Perhaps they’ve had a bad experience with one person, or not had any experiences, or perhaps they’ve only ever seen the ridiculous stereotypes that captivate the media. However it happens, I perceive many Christians making definitive statements about a demographic about which they have no definitive understanding.
What would definitive understanding look like? Could look like actually being Queer and having made a choice about how to practice relationship as a Queer person. Could look like being straight but having pursued deep and meaningful relationships with Queer folk and learned their stories and struggles. Reading articles? Doing a research paper? Watching Brokeback Mountain? Doesn’t count.
If you’re truly interested in connecting with a member of the Queer community, I would hope that there would be abundant grace in your speech. Honest curiosity. Awareness of your biases. Ask open ended questions to learn the person’s story. Where has their journey taken them? What have they experienced? What makes them value what they value? What gets them excited and why?
Questions like these that are not immediately followed by criticism and other judgements create a safe space between two people. Weeks, often months, even years into the relationship, you can safely say how you disagree with the person and why. You can say how they make you uncomfortable or even afraid or how you see reflected in them a part of yourself you’d rather ignore. You can say these things! But only after weeks, months, maybe years of open, honest, grace-filled, non-condemning conversations.
If you’re truly interested in connecting with members of the Queer community, please regard them as normal people who want love and security and family and happiness just like everyone else.
I am calling for more Jesus followers to pursue conversations with Queer folk that will lead to relationships.
I write this under the assumption that Jesus-following folks would indeed value conversations and relationships with members of the Queer community.
If I am wrong, and the Jesus folks do not care to have conversations and relationships with the Queer community, and they would rather withhold Gospel grace from them, and they value their interpretations of Scriptures more than people, and are more comfortable being hidden in their biases and unaware of how they inflict harm on others, then there is a course of action to take here as well. If this is how the Jesus-folks regard the Queer community, with ignorance, indifference, hostility, and that’s how they want to be, then they need to own up to this. They need to say out right, “I can’t love you. I don’t want you in the Kingdom of God.”
This sounds harsh, but this is what the actions of the Church have said more often than not for a long time. I think sometimes this message is communicated carelessly and ignorantly rather than in intentional hatred. But it’s still wrong. And for the wrongs we the Church have committed, we must beg the forgiveness of the Queer community.
We who have been shown so much grace by our Father in Heaven have a responsibility to bestow that grace on all people. I mention the Queer community here because they are dear to my heart and I am one of them. Let us who have received the grace of Jesus endeavor to have conversations with the Queer community. Conversations that will lead to relationships that will lead to more grace…