Back in October I spent a few days at home with many of the people who have contributed to my personal and spiritual formation in the most fundamental of ways. I am talking about the people who appreciated and befriended me amidst the awkwardness born of my gender ambiguity in the 4th grade, the people who loved me through my angsty adolescence, the people who first communicated the whole gospel message to me with both conviction and intellectual honesty, the people who designed my paradigm for true friendship, the people who introduced me to the kind of music you can hear with your heart …and not just your ears…And yes, the people who now though supporting me, do not share the same theological conclusions about my orientation.
As this was my first trip home since officially coming out and beginning my career with Planting Peace/The Equality House the questions of Christian ethics, faith, and sexuality were a centerpiece in many of theses conversations. Despite the fatigue born of discussing the debate, working through all the different aspects of such a discourse, and the divisiveness associated with it all in general…I was overwhelmed by this single thought;
that is that people, if we let them, can pleasantly defy the logical conclusions of what their ideas suggest about them.
You see, it has been my long-held assumption that all of those holding a non-affirming position on gay relationships within the Church inevitably have to exclude those with the opposing perspective from fellowship and from the consolations of biblical community at large. It has been my long-held assumption that my shift in theology puts me under their scrutiny, their criticism, and their judgment…And it has been my long-held assumption that those with a non-affirming position on gay relationships believe it within their jurisdiction to suggest both privately and publicly that I am no longer following Christ. Granted, there are PLENTY of those holding a non-affirming position who do fit into these assumptions the point I am trying to make is that not all of them do…
What seems to be happening, amongst my friends at least, is an increasing awareness of our (ALL of our) theological limitations. Almost everyone I’ve spoken to at length about these issues have expressed a profound interest in being able to be wrong, wanting to learn more and desiring a stronger understanding of the painful and confusing experiences associated with being a person who identifies as both gay and Christian. As my prejudices are being shattered, I listen to Michael Jackson’s ‘Man In The Mirror’ on repeat, and I reflect on a concept a friend of mine refers to as “mutually transforming relationships” I feel encouraged to keep asking deeper, harder questions, and to never settle for my own understanding of Truth. In agreeing to disagree I think we have the potential to pull one another closer to the center of biblical tension and to do so in both love and respect.
This is civil discourse.
This is life-giving admonishment.
This is focusing on the majors instead of the minors.
Maybe this is bad for ‘activism’ but I think there is something to be said about pursuing/maintaining relationships with people who hold a different conviction than us instead of reducing our all conversations to tasks of conversion.