So last week a whole bunch of people changed their Facebook profile picture to a red and pink equal sign to show their support for marriage equality while the Supreme Court heard arguments over the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act. This small act was criticized by some as another example of “slacktivism”–Where people do something that makes them feel pretty good about themselves, but the act actually has no practical effect on the cause they are supporting. Like wearing a rainbow bracelet for a couple days…. I may not be advancing any cause other than the cause of my own self-satisfaction. And I realize the SCOTUS justices are probably not getting on Facebook and doing an informal survey of profile pictures in order to decide how to rule, but I do think this very small act meant something. It meant something just like all those people last year standing in line for two hours at Chick-Fil-A’s meant something–Except this time, instead of people standing up to say “I’m against you,” people were standing up and saying to the LGBT community, “I’m with you.” And that means something…. Even if it’s something as simple and seemingly meaningless as changing your profile picture.
Many of the conversations and threads that followed underneath those little equals signs were very hard to stomach. I think it’s safe to say that most of the opposition to equal rights for the LGBT community comes from Christians. And this is really frustrating for me because I’m a Christian, and I hate when people do things to propel the misconception that Jesus is against gay people. He’s just not. But it’s not all frustration–More and more Christians are getting it. It’s encouraging to see so many Christians stand up and say, “I’m with you,” but it’s also very hard to see some of the reactions to that stance from other people in the Church. People act like fellow Christians who are coming out as allies for equal rights for gays are basically saying, “You know what? Screw the Bible–I’m going to do what I want!” Please understand one thing: THIS IS NOT WHAT IS HAPPENING! Christians are not wiping their butts with the pages of the Bible when they stand up in support of marriage equality.
Maybe they believe that the government should treat people the same regardless of race, gender, class, religion, sexual orientation, disability, or other aspects of what we look like or where we come from. Maybe they think that the government shouldn’t be discriminating against LGBT people and enforcing morality based on a particular interpretation of scripture from one of the many religions in this country (for example, if the majority of people in the US were Jews following kosher laws, I should still be able to eat bacon…. sweet, sweet bacon). Maybe they are a Christian like me–One who tremendously values the things the Bible teaches, but has come to a different conclusion about the inherent sinfulness of a committed, homosexual relationship. Or maybe, just maybe, they are a person like the woman in the video below, whose view changed when someone they knew and loved came out of the closet….
There actually is more than one way to understand a Biblical response to homosexuality (Here is an example of one that is AMAZING by Matthew Vines). I have landed on a response that believes we are called to love and not judge. One that understands that human sexuality is a mysterious thing that we probably know very little about. One that does not translate “LOVING” someone as “trying to convince them that same-sex orientation is something from which they need to be healed.” One that accepts and blesses a commitment that is made to love another person forever–Regardless of the gender of the person to which that commitment is made.
But the real question is this: What happens if we get it wrong? What happens if I’m wrong, and what Jesus really wants for his Church is to work as hard as possible to keep LGBT couples who have made a loving commitment to each other from having the same civil rights as straight couples? What if I’ve got it completely backwards, and followers of Jesus are supposed make homosexuals feel as damaged and uncomfortable as possible unless they repent of their gayness and live a life without the sort of companionship that my wife and I enjoy? What is God going to do to us for coming to the wrong conclusion about gay marriage? Do we believe that the loving father that Jesus revealed is actually the kind of God who would abandon us or even send us to some sort of eternal torture for an errant interpretation?
A lot of people believe in a God who is sitting at the gates of Heaven, holding onto a checklist. And then, when we die, he asks us a bunch of doctrinal questions. It’s a narrative where God’s like, “Baptized? Check. Believe in the resurrection? Check. Trinity? Check. Did you try as hard as possible to make gay people feel like their gayness was something that keeps them from accessing the same grace that you have access to? Check. Virgin Birth? NO!?!? I’m sorry–The answer we were looking for was ‘Virgin Birth.’ You almost had it. So close. Yeah…. I’m going to need you to step into this other line.” This is not the way that God works. It turns our right doctrinal beliefs into a work we do that makes us eligible for salvation. And that is NOT the portrait that is painted by any of the people who wrote the books in the back part of the Bible.
God loves us. He loves us like we’re his kids. He loves me way better that I could ever hope to love my own son. Imagine if my son made a collage for me, and in this collage he cut up some pictures that I really didn’t want cut up–But I could tell he did what he did because he was trying to be as loving as he could be–What kind of father would I be if my reaction to his attempt at love was only anger and punishment? And damnation? If this is actually the sort of God that Jesus reveals to us, then I am already so far off on my concept of God that I’m probably already going to Hell. Oh well….