I feel sad. Sick at heart. You may too. We’ve all been bombarded with noise and information, opinion and responses these last couple of days on the Supreme Court’s decision on marriage. Of course that’s my fault, I didn’t turn off the computer when I should have.
Granted, some of the responses to the news were very good ones, well thought out and expressed kindly. But many of them weren’t. Some of them were lazy, just quoting the same bible passages we all already know. Loudly. Some were outright hateful, hateful I tell you. People are talking about the holiness of Jesus in one breath and calling fellow human beings idiots in the next sentence. It just should not be.
Early on I purposed to be silent on the matter. People who know me most likely know what I think, or, if they don’t, and actually care, can ask. Honestly, even now I still have no comment on the decision itself. It’s made. It is what it is. I truly don’t feel wise enough, nor vehement enough, to hazard a meaningful response to the ruling.
But, if you’re still with me, and actually care at all, I will tell you what I do have something to say about. I’ll tell you what absolutely crushed my heart and made me crazy. It was the comment thread on The Christian and Missionary Alliance’s response to the ruling on marriage. (That is my church denomination.) As a communication person I know that wording, timing, and tone at a moment like this is everything; so I probably would have chosen a different way to send out that statement, and would have shared something different for the general public. But that in and of itself I guess is irrelevant now.
It was what happened in the comment thread underneath that got to me. Hate. Spewed left and right. Christians who had an opportunity, right in their hands, to demonstrate humility, grace, charity, and goodwill shoved it away. And fear, Christians expressing their dismay, their woe is me end-times paranoia, contempt, and superiority.
Just a month ago there we all sat. At national Council, thousands of us, for our biggest gathering of the year. Beautiful, resplendent in praise. A family. The Alliance. Together! I was so proud, so grateful, so amazed to be a part of this family. So hopeful for where God is leading us and filling us with his Spirit. And then the comments on that statement were like mud flung on white fabric, black and hideous.
Of course people in support of gay marriage flung some of the mud. At least one gay man tossed grace our way. But so many Christians just spewed. So many had nothing beautiful, lovely, praiseworthy, excellent, or hopeful to say. I don’t know how many of the commenters were actually Alliance people, some were and some weren’t.
Ugh! It made me so sad. I cringed like I myself had been slapped with every harsh word from one of “us” to one of “them.” And I didn’t want to be one of “us” anymore if that’s what “we” sound like. I know what it’s like to have a bible thumped across the head. It wounds and shames, it has at times made me want to run away. I would rather offer an invitation than a judgement. A place of refreshing than a poke in the eye. Because that’s what I want to receive.
So many people have been quoting Romans 1. But what about Romans 2:4 “Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?” I could weep thinking about God’s patience and forbearance with me. Why wouldn’t I forebear with someone else? Why would I get in the way of God’s kindness?
There are so many things I don’t know, but I do know this. I love people who are gay. Specific people, people with names, people who are real, people I’ve touched and who have touched me. Being gay or straight doesn’t define us, being human does. And we should all be able to relate on that level. I know that Jesus laid down his life for me, his rights, and his comfort, to extend love – his righteousness on my behalf. My sin and grossness didn’t make him unclean, his holiness purified me. So, if I need to lay down my rights, my life, my desires for a gay person, to be able to extend love to them, then I expect that Jesus will show me how.
What affect will this decision have on America? On the church? I don’t truly know, and neither do you. But I do know the effect many of the words I saw lobbed by Christians at one another, and strangers, have had. They have caused pain. They have not spoken of the mercy of God, or the kindness of Jesus, or even of his holy nature. I don’t feel the need to stand in the gap and repent for the country, I feel the need to stand in the gap and repent for the church.