#LoveWins, #GodWins: From a Christian who celebrates with you

rainbow cross

#LoveWins. You’ve seen the hashtag everywhere lately, and for such a joyous reason. With my heart returning to Jesus, where do I stand on this issue? I’ve read one too many blog posts titled something like “Open Letter to the Homosexual Community from a Christian.” They all start off the same way—they suck you in with an apology for how Christians have wronged gay people. It’s true…we do owe gay people an apology. The problem with these blog posts is that they’re apologizing for the wrong thing. They apologize for hating gay people instead of just hating their “sin,” and they try to cultivate comaraderie by saying they’re just like them with sins of their own. What they fail to understand is that gay people would probably rather be hated than told, “I love you, but…” What they fail to understand is that comparing another person’s sexuality to their own lust, pride, greed, anger—is not loving them at all.

I’ve seen other posts reprimanding so-called Christians who put the rainbow filter over their facebook profile pictures or Christians who have congratulated their gay loved ones on social media. They quote Romans 1:32 and tell these believers that they are succumbing to worldly pressures—or that they are even following a road to apostasy. #GodWins is their hashtag of choice.

So how will my post be different? Will I love the “sinner” and hate the “sin”? Will I warn fellow Christians who might be blinded by the schemes of the devil? Will I be for gay marriage, or will I be for God?

I will be for both. I’m sure such a blog post is out there, but I haven’t seen it—I don’t have friends like me on facebook, so these kinds of posts aren’t shared. I will love gay people the same way I love people who aren’t gay, and I won’t call their sexual orientation a sin. I will warn fellow Christians of losing sight of God, but not in the way you think.

Love brought me back. I just spent fifty-four minutes on the phone with a brother I hadn’t spoken to since childhood until the past few weeks. At the end of the conversation, he said “I’m sorry I’ve told you that I love you no less than fifteen times in the past hour—I guess I’m just making up for lost time.” Oh, my heart has ached for that. Love softened my heart and my brothers’ hearts toward me. Love came on a Wednesday three weeks ago and changed everything. Love came in the least expected situation to the least deserving people. I’m not satisfied with neurochemistry as an explanation for it, although I’ve tried to convince myself that I was for a while.

And that love is really what my faith is all about—it’s the thesis of scripture. Love came down in the most unexpected way so we could see just how far it could reach. It came in the least expected situation to the least deserving people—and yet, we forget that God IS love. We dilute the thesis of scripture with our own interpretations of the details, even when our interpretations contradict the love of God. I treasure so much of scripture—but it does not have authority in my life. It is useful and inspired, but there is more to my God than ancient words and cultures, and his love is bigger than anything human writers with biases are capable of. If you’re not a believer, you disagree. If you are a believer, you probably disagree. My world is still lonely.

When I see Christians rage against the rainbow with the words #GodWins, I see a lot of noisy gongs and clanging cymbals. I see a lot of claims to understanding and knowledge and faith, but I don’t see love. I see a lot of nothing. But when I see the celebration of an elderly gay couple who have spent a lifetime together, I see love that is patient and kind, not arrogant or rude. I see love that does not insist on its own way and is not irritable or resentful—love that rejoices with the truth. I see love that hopes. I see love that endures. Love is not defined by its object, but by these qualities.

We always stop reading 1 Corinthians 13 at “Love never fails.” But there’s more. Prophecies and knowledge will pass away. Tongues will cease. We only know in part, like children. In other words, we might be wrong. Someday we will see more clearly—and I think we’ll find that love indeed wins. These words are not a threat—they are the very foundation that my faith rests upon.

What if we stopped filtering the world around us through our own interpretations of scripture? What if we filtered it instead through a love that knows no boundaries? If God is love, would we be that far off from truth? If God is love, then #LoveWins and #GodWins are one and the same.

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” John 15:12

It is so ordered.

[image © Majivecka | Dreamstime.com – Vector Silhouette Of A Cross. Photo]

Hey Pascal, Read This.

letter

Dear Pascal,

I’ve made some progress on my post about last night’s meeting, but I’ll probably need a few days to finish it. It always strikes me how you and I can think so alike in many ways but come to profoundly different conclusions because of our differing views on scripture’s authority. I think we probably agree in more areas than we disagree, but we never talk much about the positions we share. The only time you and I ever interact in a non-professional setting seems to be when we’re arguing—you could not possibly like me (Russell agrees that I make it difficult for you).

I like you. I like that I can still respect you even when we disagree. I can’t do that with some people, and I don’t mean that in an arrogant way—I used to be a person that the current me couldn’t have respected in debate, and I am likely currently a person the future me would not respect in debate. You ask such thoughtful questions, and you give thoughtful responses to mine. Your reason for your position last night (based completely on the authority of scripture) is honest and consistent with who you are, and that’s an issue we’ve spent enough time arguing about already.

Why did I argue with you last night, knowing that we disagree on such a fundamental level? It’s because I know what could help me return to faith, and the issue of homosexuality highlights it well. I feel like I keep hitting a wall with the authority of scripture, because it seems to conflict with another Biblical principle—that I am made in God’s image. If I’m made in God’s image, what does it mean if my heart tells me “This is not from God” when I hear it said that obedience requires gay people to either have their sexuality “reformed” or be celibate—and any time I think about hell? If I’m made in God’s image, what does it mean if my heart tells me it doesn’t matter who we love, but how we love? I’m not gay, so it was easier for me to just keep proclaiming the authority of scripture than to feel this overwhelming burden for gay people and this uncomfortable sense that we’ve been wrong all along. I find no personal benefit in advocating for the gay community, and I cannot relate to their type of sexual attraction—so why does this fuel passion within me? When I read scriptural references to homosexuality and pray about them to whoever is listening, I feel this sense that God says, “These are the words of men. You have my heart.” I would be wary of accepting words like that if I were using them to justify my own behavior—but I’m not.

You seemed to feel like my views are unique. If I deny scripture’s perfect authority regarding homosexuality, much of the church won’t agree with me. If I believe in the concept of sexual immorality (defined not by loving the wrong person, but rather by loving the wrong way) even without faith and take a position against it, much of the rest of the world won’t agree with me. These two coordinates mark exactly where I am, and it’s lonely sometimes. Perhaps this is actually the road less traveled. What if this is where I’m meant to be? What if this is the answer to the prayer “Break my heart for what breaks yours”? Could it be that the boundary-breaking love of God endures beyond ancient words? Could it be that he reveals himself to me in the heart that he gives me, even if that heart is offensive to those who give scripture ultimate authority in their lives? Is there any chance that we have had it wrong? Is there any chance that with my love of scripture, I missed out on knowing God and sharing his love?

Those are the questions I’m really asking when I argue. I want to believe that my heart might be from God, even if it means denying the full authority of scripture. I want to believe that a living God isn’t leather-bound with black and white pages. Just like a gay Christian would want to feel that there’s room for him as an active participant in the Church without a requirement of celibacy, I want to believe that there’s room for me without having to proclaim the authority of scripture and lay down the passions and burdens in my heart—passions and burdens that I have hoped might reflect the heart of a living God.

As I have before and will again, I apologize if I argued too aggressively. You and Russell are the only people I ever apologize to for that. I speak up louder with you for a different reason than the one we discussed last week as a possibility—I feel safe and comfortable, not insecure. Of course, you can rest assured that my workplace interactions will look different.

Thank you for coming last night and two weeks ago—this week ended the series on hard questions. I’ll miss the discussion with you that I have valued so much through these two weeks and through Détente, but I hope that you and Russell continue to write.

Friends even if we disagree,

J

Image © Smong08 | Dreamstime.com – Retro Effect Faded And Toned Image Of A Girl Writing A Note With A Fountain Pen Antique Handwritten Letter. Photo