Breaking two years of radio silence for such a hot potato is kind of nerve wracking, but I want to throw some food for thought out there, particularly to my fellow Christians. This started off as a reply on a FB post, and we all know how that can go. Then I decided I didn’t want to limit what I have to say to the original post. So, dusting off “Ye Olde Blogge” where I can say what I want without respect to others’ original discursive intent.
I write this with a great deal of trepidation… because this issue is not so clear cut for me, for a lot of reasons, so I ask for grace and mercy from those disagree with me…because I’m certain there will be many.
My overall thought is that I think Christians make a grave error in putting so much hope and energy into trying make biblical principles (like marriage) as the LAW of the LAND. This world is not our home. We should not be surprised when events, politics, culture, attitudes (you name it) go against what the Bible says.
I suspect this will be an unpopular opinion, but it’s time to let go of the “safety blanket” of a notion or expectation that America will be/is a “Christian nation” because it makes us lazy as Christians. When we try to create a space where we are temporarily “at home” in the world by making biblical principles the rule of law, rather than by the influencing our neighbors and establishing communities of authentic caring through godly, sacrificial relationships with believers and ESPECIALLY non-believers, all of whom sin and fall short of the glory of God, we lose the essence of what it means to be salt and light.
I think we’ve been going about it all wrong in expecting or trusting courts and legislatures to do this work for us… making us safe and comfortable in our proverbial city on a hill through laws steeped in biblical tradition/law. The Bible never promises safety and comfort on this side of heaven. As Christians, the Bible says we should expect persecution. As AMERICAN Christians, we’ve had it really, really easy. And compared to other places in the world, we still do have it easy. And let me be clear: What happened today is NOT persecution. It is an erosion of a privilege, an challenge to the assumption that a certain way of thinking is SO RIGHT that it should be the law. I’m reminded of Psalm 20:7. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. We have asked our government and legislatures protect a culture that has privileged Christianity. We have trusted in horses and chariots, and unsurprisingly, we have seen that privilege eroding for 30 years now. We have allowed suspicion, anger, discontent, greed, discord and hate to sprout up as that privilege erodes instead of trusting in God from whom grace, forgiveness, compassion, mercy, peace and patience flows.
It’s time to roll up our sleeves, do a spiritual gut-check, and get into the trenches of REAL life-transformative work. That means loving God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength, loving your neighbor as yourself, following the example of the good Samaritan by doing good unto those with whom you have been conditioned to suspect or hate, and praying for those who persecute you. That means influencing culture through faith in God, and the pursuit of righteousness by following in Jesus’ footsteps, not mandating that an entire population adhere to a belief or standard that is not universally, nor even culturally, upheld.
Yes, we can pray for our land. But let’s not stop there… let’s pray for the opportunity to be salt and light in our communities. Let’s each of us resolve to be a point of light in someone else’s darkness. If America is to be a city on a hill, it will come from all of us letting our individual light shine in the streets of our communities by acts of grace and generosity and forgiveness and mercy – not by the relatively glaring neon of law.
On FB, I have seen many Christians ask the sincere question, how can I show love for someone whose lifestyle is steeped in a sin that I cannot condone? You may take or leave my advice as you wish, but I have had the joy and privilege of being extremely close to someone in a same-sex relationship since I was a child. I have had the privilege of praying for this individual for most of my life, and I have had the unspeakable JOY of watching God work in this individual’s life.
My advice is to simply do these 3 things:
1. Pray for God to draw this person close to Himself. Nothing you do will ever be as effective. I hope as Christ- followers, that we all know from our own personal relationship with Jesus, that there is nothing more loving, more transformative, more glorifying, more joyous than to be embraced by the loving Father. So pray for this person to encounter God. To pray this way is to pray for exactly what the Lord wants, for His child to know His love. Simply ask God to soften their hearts to His embrace.
2. Demonstrate what life is like with Christ’s full acceptance and love and friendship by showing acceptance and love and friendship. Don‘t worry about drawing the lines of approval or disapproval. That is the Holy Spirit’s work. You are not condoning sin if you befriend a person who has sin in their life. You are not condoning sin if you befriend their same-sex partner… you are being a friend. If the friendship is close enough, talk about your own struggles with faith and obedience. Simply be a friend and trust God to do the transformative work in their life. Pray for that work. Don’t try to steer it. You don’t have the map. God does.
3. As you pray for this person, don’t put any timeline on change and don’t get too set on what the change will look like in this person’s life. I prayed for over 20 years before I saw any discernible change in the person I prayed for in terms of sexuality. But the other changes were better. They drew closer to God. They trust Him again. They have turned their life over to Him. They are growing in Him. Their partner has come to know Christ. Really, what more could I ask for? This person is still in a same sex relationship. And you know what? I’m still a glutton and an idolater. We all have sin. His grace is sufficient for both of us. Praise God that His strength is perfected in our weaknesses. We can say to each other, “Jesus loves you, and so do I.” So this is especially important, don’t expect God to change them according to what you think “fixed,” or “whole” or “right” looks like for them. Again let go of your notion of what needs to be done in this person’s life, and simply ask God to draw them near to Himself. Though you may see their sexuality as THE problem, there may be far more spiritually damaging things in their heart – like anger, or mistrust, or greed, or idolatry – that the Lord wants to change. That is why it is so important to pray that He draw them near, and not to necessarily only direct our prayers toward the issues that we see as the problem. God knows all of our deepest needs, and that is where He longs to work.
So, to put my stake in the ground: I am a Christ follower, a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother, a niece, an aunt, a friend, an employee – and in all circumstances, I am responsible to shine my light. And my light is this: if you are gay, bi-sexual, straight… if you are a believer or a non-believer… If you are seeking God or not seeking God… You are safe with me. My relationship with Jesus does not give me any standing with which to judge you. My relationship with Jesus is a flood of grace, and I pray with all my heart that it spills over into all my relationships in the form of love, compassion and joy. Often, though, my own sin prevents this from being so. I beg forgiveness when that happens. Though at times I am prone to judge others, you will find no condemnation in me, because whatever I see in your life that is sin, I see through an imperfect lens because I am a sinner too. If you have been hurt by the church, or if you think that God is someone you do NOT want to know, I pray that I can help to mend those hurts and demonstrate that God loves you exactly as you are. I will not shame or condemn you if you do not believe or understand that. I will not cut off our relationship if you don’t ever come around to believe as I believe, because I do not see you as a project or a cause. You are my FRIEND.
As your friend, I will simply pray that you will experience what I have experienced — To be pursued by ther ever-patient, ever-merciful, incredibly tender Lover of my soul. And after all my running of my 20s, and all the bargaining of my 30s, and trying it my own way at almost every turn, and finally realizing that trusting Him did NOT means giving up that which was most precious to me — the incredible joy of simply dropping all of that baggage and letting the love of the Father into my life. First as a trickle, then a stream, to a river. To today when my nearly daily prayer is to be planted by His spring of living water. I simply pray that you are drawn near to Him, in the gentle and tender ways you are longing to be known. He longs to show you that you are known and loved by Him.
This is the light I will shine. This is my promise to you, my friends, my church, and my community.
Lord, flood us with your grace, so that we are not shaken, or made anxious, or lose our peace and joy when there are changes that we cannot control. When we are not sure whether the tides around us are bringing us closer to Your shore, or taking us further out to sea, grant us the faith that will allow us to walk upon those waves. Wrap Your arms around us so that we may feel the unconditional, transformative, complete, fullness of your love. . Break our hearts for what breaks yours. Give us the strength and courage to get on the front lines of injustice, to give voice to the voiceless, to give our power to the powerless. Teach us run into the darkness bearing the torch of your strength and glory and love. Forgive us for trying to build strongholds of protection around ourselves, because in doing so, we have shut out those who need You the most. Lord, forgive us for shutting out those who need you. Teach us to discern when we are placing our trust in anything other than You, or acting upon any impulse other than Your will. If times ahead are challenging and uncomfortable, give us the strength to welcome it. If persecution is coming, give us courage to not fear it, because we know that victory that has already been won in Jesus death and resurrection. Lord, continue to work in the Church, preparing the Bride, making her beautiful and holy in the eyes of the Groom, Jesus, upon whom all our hopes rest. In His name we pray, Amen.