And Know My Heart, I Pray
Last week it was my privilege to present a workshop at the national PFLAG conference in Nashville, Tennessee. PFLAG is a non-profit created by parents and family members of lesbians, gays, and transgender people. PFLAG is story based. They believe if families tell their stories, friends and neighbors will listen and the world will change. I believe they are right.
When an enemy is “out there,” it is easy to vilify them. But when that person becomes human, all but the hardest hearts begin to reexamine their opposition. When I preached at Highlands Church in Denver in August, I looked out over an audience of several hundred people, a sizeable portion of whom were gay or lesbian. About sixty seconds into my message I almost had to stop and gather myself. I saw mothers and fathers holding their children, showing a powerful passion for Christ, filled to the brim with love for one another. I tried to imagine Jesus standing before that audience and saying, “I am so sorry. Satan has deceived you. You are all headed to the fires of hell.” There was not one tiny piece of my heart that could imagine such a Jesus.
I know some of you can, in fact, imagine that Jesus. I invite you to stand before that same audience and preach. Pick a favorite passage on a subject that does not address the sexual identity of the audience. Speak for 25 minutes, talk with the audience afterwards, and see if you do not find your own theology to be troubling.
Too often we act as though our theological positions are without real world consequences. Until you walk a mile in the shoes of another, your theological positions are just that, positions. Until they become people, they have not faced the litmus test of conscience. “Could it be there is nothing wrong with these people? Could it be my hermeneutic is askew, and not this dear person’s life.”
At the PFLAG workshop I spoke to dozens of moms and dads and other family members of LGBTQ individuals. Most in the room called themselves followers of Jesus. One after another, with tears in their eyes, they told their stories of rejection, of churches casting out their children. In the name of Jesus they had all been hurt.
I know many of you reading this blog are disappointed I have taken this stand. But I invite you to listen to the stories these people tell, and see if your conscience is not pricked to its core. Once your conscience begins to fight with your belief systems, feel the cognitive dissonance. Don’t run from it. Ponder it. This is how, over the centuries, the church changed its stance on slavery, women’s rights, interracial marriage, divorce and remarriage, and a plethora of other issues.
At the end of my talk a gentle 74-year-old man talked about his 32-year relationship with his husband. He asked if I knew about a megachurch in his city, one I do know well. He said, “There is a young man on the preaching team who is a marvelous communicator and seems like a good human being, but his arrogance is unbecoming.” I knew of whom he spoke and could not disagree. On this subject and others, his arrogance is unbecoming.
I would love for this sweet man and his husband to become friends with the young, gifted pastor, and sit back and watch what happens. That is how lives change, one relationship at a time, arrogance replaced with understanding, judgment replaced with love.
And, God willing, so it goes.
10 thoughts on “And Know My Heart, I Pray”
>>That is how lives change, one relationship at a time, arrogance replaced with understanding, judgment replaced with love.<<
This is what happened to me. I am changed. I will never go back to judgement and separateness. I will spend the rest of my days exploring that Love and Understanding. And Oneness. Finding what joins us instead of what separates us.
one relationship at a time is how much of life is best lived period. for when we come to know people 1×1 we begin to realize how imperfect we are and how much God loves both of us.
as usual thanks for your insights. my views are changing because of you, and others in 1×1 relationships.
So when Jesus encountered the woman caught in adultery — He told her go and sin no more only because He didn’t know her that well? The rich younger ruler was also given a bad command by Jesus to go and sell all he had and give it to the poor — if Jesus would have only known him better He would included him as a disciple? The Bible teaches against making judgments by mere appearances it tells us to make righteous judgments (John 7:24). My friend in FL says he was born with a short fuse — well if you were born that way it’s okay with God that you scream and holler at people — you were born that way. It’s okay to put your fist through the wall you haven’t hurt anyone! Meanwhile the children walk on eggshells around daddy so he doesn’t get upset. “The whipping post” boy except the wall is the substitute boy. Sorry can’t buy into this post — but I am still listening and discerning!
Of course this comment assumes monogamous homosexual behavior is sin. That is where our understanding differs. If one believes it is sin, then what you say is logical. But I do not believe it is sin.
What about the rich young ruler? Why did Jesus tell him to sell everything he had? My point is Jesus and His word set the standards by which we make righteous judgments it is not about how long we have known someone. I am still listening
Buddy, I am also still listening. Again, you are assuming homosexuality is a sin, while I believe monogamous homosexual relationships are not sin. And since you are appealing to Jesus, I will note that Jesus said not one single word on the subject of LGBT issues. So your belief that it is sin is rooted in someone other than Jesus. I assume it is rooted in the teachings of Paul, particularly his words in Romans 1. For a number of reasons, I do not believe that passage is the final word on the subject. If you’d like to read more, I would suggest the book Changing Our Mind by David Gushee, Brian McLaren, Matthew Vines, and Phyllis Tickle.
Thanks for your suggestions for reading!
Yes, Buddy Harris, make righteous judgements. Please start with me. First, consider my actions, my contributions, my temperament and my talents. Judge me based on my capacity for goodness, forgiveness, and grace. Then, consider who I love and how that effects every aspect of my life. The fact that I’m gay is a key part of my identity. If I deny that, I deny the best parts of myself. It can’t be isolated or fixed like betrayal, greed, or a tendency to “scream and holler”. Judge me for what I do wrong; for the times I’ve hurt people or acted on my worst impulses. If you come to the conclusion that I am a sinner let it be for those failings, not for the pure and beautiful love I share with another human being. It’s selfless and devoted and full of joy. If you look at that kind of love and only see sin, it says more about you than it does about me.
Sounds like you have your life together — I have confessed Jesus Christ as Lord — I need Him as my Savior! I can’t be good enough to save myself so I live in a relationship with Jesus doing what He and His word says I should do. The rich young ruler was told to sell everything and he walked away. If I am not willing to do what Jesus and His word says — is He really Lord? Jesus set the standard for the rich young ruler and I am sure he was a good man, like you, but he did not do what Jesus told him. Thanks for you comments I am trying to learn and grow in this process called life. Blessings Buddy
Don’t lose hope Paula, in time love wins, it always wins.