I very, very rarely discuss politics with anyone. I’d much rather sit down and converse with you about faith or food or the story of your life. Which is not to say that I believe politics hold no importance — I research the issues and I make informed decisions and I exercise my right to vote — but I am not wired to seek political debate. Or any other debate, really.
But yesterday I found myself witnessing a political debate of enormous proportions — and on Facebook, no less — where one attacked another who attacked another who attacked another, and all of them were worse for the wear. The topic, of course, was the legalization of gay marriage. Thanks to Obama, I’ve been hearing a lot about that specific issue in the last week.
Yesterday I also learned that an old friend of mine is gay. He is still very much in hiding, for fear of the backlash he will receive, and he is deeply struggling with the reconciliation of his faith with his sexuality. He is one of at least a dozen friends who have come out to me in the last ten or so years — friends who have grown up in church or have professed faith in Christ, and who know firsthand that the “religious” world can be a brutal one.
As I have read posting after posting on blogs, news sites, friends’ Facebook pages, etc. this week surrounding the gay marriage debate, I have felt more disheartened by the response of my fellow Christians than I have about anything else in a long, long time.
I’m not writing to share yet another opinion on legalizing gay marriage, nor even to talk about homosexuality. I’m writing to beg of my fellow Christians: please, please pause to think about the person on the other end of your diatribe. Please share the reason for the hope that you have with gentleness and respect. Please stop boasting in your doctrine and theology and opinions, but boast only in the cross of Christ, where you first found the answer to your own sinful nature.
When you, Facebook commenter, said that if we let gay people get married, we might as well start letting people marry animals and little boys, too, you were reducing my friend to the likes of a pedophile; you were reducing him to a monster. But he is not a monster — not even close; he is a kind, funny, loving, generous man who has a lot of doubts and questions, and he wants to know that God has a plan for his life.
And if the statistics are true, you’re sitting next to closeted homosexuals every Sunday in your churches. You’re going to Bible study with friends who struggle with same-sex attraction, and you don’t know it because they’re too afraid to say anything. When you, former member of my church, said that you wish all homosexuals would just go back into the “damn closets” that they came from, you were damning your daughter who was terrified to tell you that she might be gay.
What if, instead of ranting about the legalization of gay marriage on Facebook, you would take the time to love your neighbor with the love of Christ . . . if instead of making it your personal mission to tell all homosexuals that they are going to burn in hell, you would take the time to tell them about the glory of heaven . . . if instead of throwing stones, you looked inward and remembered the pit you were in when Christ first rescued you . . . maybe, just maybe, love really would win?
Because I don’t believe in Rob Bell’s version of love “winning;” but I absolutely believe that Love has the power to win. I believe sin is devastating; but I also believe that Christ is the very real solution to our depravity. What if, instead of shouting everything we’re against from the rooftops, we started telling people what we’re for? Take a stand for righteousness and justice, yes! Hold fast to the teachings of Christ. But do so with love and humility, becoming a servant to all of those around you as Christ was a servant to all.
I’m for love and grace and mercy; and also for righteousness and justice. I’m for Christ, because He was for me. And I’m for you, because I want you to know the One who rescued me from my pit.