before the weekend, a friend of mine linked this article from the local newspaper of the community from whence i came, outlining some of the (un)christian behavior that often accompanies the name of jesus in the public marketplace.
she wrote on her facebook wall,
‘As a Christian, I hate that we are often labeled “hypocrites” by society… but then I read stories like this and I know why we have that label.’
essentially, the online article reports, members of a few local peoria churches (one ironically named ‘Grace’) showed up in the state capitol wednesday to fight against same sex marriage.
according to the article, the group of protesters also included students from the local private catholic high school, where an instructor created a mini-controversy among alumni when she offered incentives to students who attended the protest with promises to ‘miss school all day Wednesday‘ for ‘20 points extra credit‘
the email to students also quoted the local bishop, who stated ::
‘For 2000 years, the Catholic Church has passionately defended the doctrines of Jesus Christ. It is now our time, as the faithful… to take a public stand to protect and uphold the sanctity and dignity of Marriage (sic).’
click here for the full letter.
the argument that marriage is ‘an essential doctrine of salvation‘ or that God ‘instituted marriage‘ as between one man and one woman when he created adam and eve is both intellectually dishonest and biblically simplistic.
here is an info graphic that breaks down the examples of ‘biblical marriage’ (i admit this once got me in a bit of hot water with some folks).
this is not to suggest that everyone who holds to a traditional conservative interpretation of scripture regarding sexuality, or whom understands God’s design for marriage to be between one man and one woman is wrong or bad – we’re each entitled to our opinion.
yet anyone who takes biblical studies seriously ought to be able to admit there are legitimate arguments supporting both sides of the discussion.
as my friend The Registered Runaway posted on his blog earlier last week, a five-second-google-search of homosexuality + bible verse ≠ diligent bible study.
the fact is, any conversation dealing honestly with scripture, science, cultural anthropology and sociology - particularly one grounded in relationship – is much more nuanced than a slogan that fits on a protestors’ poster-board or that can fit on a bumper sticker.
but i digress.
this post is not a diatribe into my opinion about gay marriage – which, for the record, is best reflected here or perhaps even here – but rather a simple observation on the ineffective nature of these churches in their engagement with the LGBT ‘issue.’
the peoria newspaper article begins by naming Grace as the particular church which made up the majority of the 3,000 protestors, according to the illinois family institute.
i know that church. i know and love many of their staff, a few of their elders – and many more whom regularly attend. i know the pastors quoted in the article, and recognize the folks in the pictures from the newspaper.
and it breaks my heart – because it’s a disgrace.
five busloads showed up to articulate such intricate arguments as,
‘It’s a plumbing issue, it comes down to basic plumbing.’
(i think the quote needed a #rickwarrentips addendum, saying ‘can’t explain all the reasons here‘)
one citizen lobbyist highlighted the change in cultural the perception of what is normal :: ‘In fifty years, [homosexuality has] gone from being a felony to political, legalized status.’
the local catholic bishop blessed a group of protesters in peoria before they departed for the state’s capital ::
‘I’m very proud of you this morning, but you’re going out among the Nenevites today. ‘
‘who are the Ninevites in our lives? Despite our best efforts, if we are honest with ourselves, we harbor unloving thoughts towards SOMEONE in our lives; but are they not our Ninevites? … if we look at our behavior towards them, are we so different from Jonah?’
as one who engages in this dialogue on a daily basis, i am convinced we are addicted to judgment, polarizing language and declarations of Truth (emphasized with a capital ‘T’) - and we consistently look to our leaders to spoon feed us theology in black and white absolutes. as we do so, we alienate and demonize those with whom we disagree, most often in an effort to convert and convince each other that we alone have the answer.
even when pastors truly desire to elevate the conversation with their congregation regarding discussion between the church and the LGBT community, it’s often paired with a caveat attachment of ‘but for the record, we don’t agree with…‘
we fear ambiguity.
making dogmatic, finalized statements that lack clarification, conversation, and relationship in a public forum is unhelpful in elevating the conversation with the gay community.
i realize there will be disagreement among people of faith about whether or not gay relationships should be celebrated and consecrated by the church.
churches disagree on a lot of things. that’s why we have so many of them.
i’m not asking that people give up their convictions.
but we desperately need to change our culture.
perhaps that begins with a posture of humility, and the possibility that God may be up to something greater than our firm positions on sexuality and gay marriage.
‘the world reads christians, not the bible.’ — andrew marin
so the question is, what are they reading from our lives?
is it grace? or is it a disgrace?
does the world know us by our love – or are we committed to being known for our political or theological position on secondary issues? what does a busload (or five) of protestors communicate to those against whom we are protesting?
what do you think?