Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Walking Out or Walking In

We sat in my living room the other day along with our team leader and another friend watching the late night news after a day of meetings.  A news article came on about gay marriage and the fight for gay rights.  Our team leader huffed and said that this needs to be banned, and no one can define a gay couple as a "family" since the very definition of a family is a unit to procreate, and gays cannot produce children.

I don't know what got into me, but I said it.  I am not pro-gay... honestly.  But then again, I am rethinking... maybe I am not either anti-gay...

I said, "Not all hetero-sexual couples can reproduce either."  Our team leader and his wife adopted due to infertility.  "You wouldn't classify you as not a family just because you couldn't have children.  The definition of a family has to be more than that."

He just said, "oh, so now you are using our adoptions as an argument for gays!" and got up and left the room.

I don't know if the man was offended or simply disgusted with gays or what.  He does abruptly leave conversations at times for reasons that are not always clear to others, so an abrupt departure was not too abnormal for him.  I asked my husband if he thought he was offended, and my husband sad he didn't think so.  I don't know.

My husband and I talked it over as we watched the rest of the news and worked on a puzzle spread out on our coffee table.  There is such an animosity to gay people, gay marriage, gay parenting and all.  Let me get it clear (I almost said let me get it straight, but that ended up looking funny in this sentence.)  I strongly believe that choosing a gay lifestyle is wrong.  I believe that it is not right at all.  But that is not the point here.

Why do Christians react so strongly and so negatively?  We wondered about that.  What point does that serve?  We wondered if the strength of the gay movement is fed partly in response to the heated animosity of Christians.  We wondered how our hate, disgust, and vehement fighting against their desire to have the right to marry, to have children, to.... whatever.... is leading at all to them learning of the love of Christ.  Has anyone been won to Christ by hate?

We work among a people in a religion that is not well loved.  People also fear and can easily hate people of this belief.  We believe and teach Christians not to hate - to befriend, to show love, to be kind, to see people.  We believe that if we hate and fight against these people, we will never win them for Christ.  It is in our love, in our acceptance, in our kindness, in our care that we are able to speak with our lives.

Didn't God says the world will know us by our love?

Then why do we hate?

I grew up in the church.  I know the answer to that question.  "We hate the sin, but we love the sinner."


Then why do we spit out the words when we talk about gays and lesbians?  Why do we fight so hard against them.

What would happen if we showed love?  I don't know what that would look like, but what would happen?  If we stopped trying to restrict their rights, if we stopped giving those looks, if we stopped whispering about them... if....

What if we invited their kids over, babysat for them, or simply started by smiling at the next gay couple we saw?  What if we handed out cool water or hot chocolate at one of their events - without having slogans or tracts or anything.  What if we just showed love?

And - even though many Christians will be scandalized at the thought - what if we stopped fighting their attempts to be able to be married?  Are we so insecure that we think marriage can be threatened by that?  Do we define ourselves only by our gender or our ability to produce children?

I personally think that marriage is something greater and bigger than the definitions I've heard given in support of opposing gay marriage.  I've heard that it is "one woman/one man" or this recent one "family is designed to procreate".  I personally believe that marriage is intended to be a demonstration of Christ and the church - of that unity, that love that is above and beyond all else.  We are a living example of Christ's love.  Marriage is a example of how Christ loves us.  There is nothing a gay couple can do which can threaten or destroy that.  We have nothing to fear....  nothing, perhaps, other than that existence of our own hate and fear destroying the image of Christ's love in us.

It's true that we have no example of how Jesus treated gays.  None.  It would have been easier for us, maybe, if we did.  But we don't.  What we have is only the example of how He treated the two most hated groups in His society - the prostitutes (and the woman at the well who wasn't even getting paid for her "services") and the tax collectors.  Both groups where the religious society drew up their robes tighter around them in horror.

But Jesus didn't.

I'm re-thinking my religion.  I'm not re-thinking my stand on homosexuality.  But I am  re-thinking the whole "hate the sin and love the sinner" idea.  I'm thinking we too often say that, but clearly communicate "hate the sin and the sinner" idea.  Like when we walk out in disgust at the very mention of a gay person.

Who's going to share the good news with them if we walk out?  Maybe we need to be walking in to their lives instead?


nicolette said...

Great post... I totally agree.
Although I do think we can "hate the sin and love the sinner," but you are right, it's not often worked out that way.

Ellie said...

Oh, definitely, Nicolette, we can and should! I will never re-think my religion to the point that I think it is ok not to hate this sin. I just don't see the "love the sinner" thing here in action, and I think that we have to be really careful when we passionately hate a sin, not to let that spread to the sinner, too.

Shan in Japan said...

I have been thinking this same thing for quite some time now. It makes me so sad to hear words like that spit out of people's mouths who claim to be Christian leaders. Thank you for posting this, for being brave and sharing your heart.

Ellie said...

Shan, it is easier to be brave when you are anonymous! :)

Thanks, though!

jackandellasmum said...

Just now reading this... I totally rethought my "stance" against gay marriage/adoption/tolerance after I foolishly protested at a Kerry rally in '04. I realized, with what felt like the crush of emotional blunt force trauma, that the cruelty we received at that event was in direct correlation to the cruelty, hate, anguish, and rejection gays experienced throughout their entire lives, often from the mouths of the righteous, the godly, the Christian.

8 years later and we are still contemplating our theological stance, but ultimately err on the side of unconditional love. It's hard - so hard, to not want to default to doctrinal absolutes that are absolutely right and true, but won't save anyone on the spot - but offering redemption, freedom, grace is never easy. And ultimately it's Jesus who saves, not us. We just try to love them a little bit closer to His feet.

Anyway... love that you wrote these thoughts out... so many times us good Christian missionary ladies are afraid to say these things outloud... or in print.