every once in awhile (and with ever-increasing-frequency) i receive calls, emails or texts from folks who’d like me to clarify my position – or the position of The Marin Foundation – on hot-topic-conversation-starters surrounding the LGBT and conservative communities.
earlier this morning, a friend was listening to my LIVE radio interview from last night on the Frank Pastore Show (which you can hear here – beginning at 15:45 after the download).
as she listened, she wrote ::
‘So, I’m listening to that interview you just did and… I mostly agree but it seems like, it’s really important that the LGBTQ community knows it’s affirmed and loved and I really don’t know how Christians can do that while believing being gay is sin (I think there’s a question in there but I don’t know how to word it)’
welcome to my world.
she continued, saying a number of her friends from the LGBT community ‘express mistrust’ of The Marin Foundation because we don’t drive a stake in the sand declaring we do or do not believe that homosexuality is a sin, or whether we do or do not support marriage equality, or any number of closed-ended || yes/no || win/lose questions (i mentioned the top six questions we encounter on a daily basis in the interview).
we get the same compliant, with a different perspective, from many in the conservative community. here’s one example.
andrew is fond of saying,
‘the thing about being a bridge is you get walked on from both sides.’
when you are the entity (such as The Marin Foundation) intentionally working with BOTH sides of a conversation – whom are inherently skeptical and untrusting of one another – BOTH sides become inherently skeptical of you and your work simply because you’re in relationship with the perceived ‘Other.’
and everybody wants to pin you down.
‘are you on our side? or are you on their side?’
as we have said before, there is a difference between cultural reconciliation and actual reconciliation. cultural reconciliation is when the conservative world or the LGBT community only sees reconciliation as ‘the Other’ dropping their personal worldview and picking up a full set of ‘correct beliefs’ that brings everyone to only one side. actual reconciliation seeks to connect and dignify two different groups of people whether they are in agreement or not.
we live in a culture where the imputed expectation to create sustainable, peaceful and productive dialogue dictates agreement in order for something significant to happen.
we desire – even demand – to convert the opposing worldview to our own.
we often refuse to accept the reality that there will always be an opposite perspective – and we push back against the idea that coexisting in a world with diverse opinions can actually be beneficial – even necessary – for society.
when our demand for acceptance simultaneously demands conformity to a certain viewpoint, it is no longer equality we’re after – but conversion. if we’re unable to coexist with others whom may or may not disagree with our worldview, we’re pushing some sort of twisted theocratic dictatorship, entirely dependent upon our (whether conservative or progressive) interpretation of what is ‘right.’
our insistence upon uniformity demands conformity of belief, not just adjustment of behavior. i am convinced that’s not only unrealistic, but unhealthy. the beauty in diversity comes when we can accept other perspectives and each side can learn to live and love in a way that creates room for sustainable dialogue and provides opportunity for significant things to happen in the context of relationship, regardless of whether or not i agree with someone else.
does the church need to change their behavior toward the LGBT community? absolutely.
does that change in behavior necessarily dictate a change of belief? i don’t think so.
we must 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.
when our churches become places defined by our political or theological positions on secondary issues rather than the ‘come as you are‘ culture which jesus created, something needs to change.
yet to demand conformity to a preferred set of beliefs is not only unhelpful – it is unrealistic.
after a continued back-and-forth text conversation with my friend, she sent the following ::
‘Y’know, come to think of it, I’m not sure you have ever given a definitive answer for whether you think being gay is sin or what you believe about marriage equality. I’ve made a bunch of assumptions, given statements and your attitudes, but then – who knows, maybe i’m way off base here and there goes my thesis.’
ain’t that part of my charm.
what i believe doesn’t matter. how i behave matters a great deal. christians from either side – whether conservative or progressive – need to do a much better job at loving each other – particularly those with whom we may not agree.
that, said jesus, is how the rest of the world will know we’re actually following him – not a ‘correct’ belief on culturally divisive topics.
what do you think?