In a public high school outside of Seattle this January, a lesbian teacher asked her class of freshmen to raise their hand if they supported gay marriage. Every hand went up sans one. The one that belonged to a Christian named Gretchen. Later that day, Gretchen was cornered and beat up by Maddy, the star player on girls’ basketball team who happens to have two mothers. (I’ll fill you in on the rest of this juicy tale later, or, if you can’t handle the suspense skip to the bottom.)
Can we pause and reflect here? This incident is a real life example of how all of the intimidation and inflammatory statements against those who support natural marriage being “haters” and “bigots” have real life implications for those who dare to speak out. As I listened to Gretchen’s youth leader tell this story I was struck by how colossal a turn-around our country has made on this issue in such a short time. I was sickened that Gretchen suffered physical punishment as the consequence of statements about her beliefs. (Sheesh- not even statements. The girl just didn’t raise her hand.) Mostly, I marveled at how dangerous those who proclaim to be “tolerant” can become when they believe their hatred is justified.
This is my 100th post. (Please donate any money you would have spent sending me flowers and Bon-Bons in celebration of my big achievement to the Genesis Project.) This blog was conceived in an angry moment- just about three and a half minutes after our President’s “evolution” on gay marriage. (Let the reader note that “evolution” is used only in this instance. When it comes to other presidents or other issues it’s called a “flip-flop.”) This seemed to be the moment that the term “bigot” was outed. Mainstream media was giddily abusing and misusing “bigot” to describe dissenters. That was where this bigot snapped. I had remained silent too long. I had observed too many Christians harping on this issue from a “sin” perspective without demonstrating love for their gay neighbor and I needed to speak up about it. I also needed to address those Christians who were throwing the biblical sexual ethic on the pyre of tolerance. I was sick and tired of those who denounced all supporters of natural marriage as bigots. For the sake of all the Gretchen’s out there, the time had come to bust out my 2009, $199 HP Mini-Notebook computer and blog, baby, blog.
While I feel that God has lead me to write about this subject, at times I have wondered what difference I could ever make. I mean, if I had started ten years ago, there may have been some hope of contributing balance to the legislative debate. Maybe. But now? Well, it’s too little too late. Public opinion – undoubtedly aided by media bias, hasty parenting “studies,” and the sidelining of any perspective deemed “anti-gay”- has done a one-eighty when it comes to gay marriage policy. Ten years ago, it may have been Maddy cornered and beat up. (I’ll never forget the day a gang of four girls blocked the exit of the gym and taunted me for having “two moms.” One girl was wagging her finger in the air, her nose nearly touching mine, her breath smelling like breakfast sausage. Yep. Like it was yesterday.) Indeed, the tide in the marriage war has turned.
However. While there is cause to lament, I choose to see it as an opportunity for true believers to become what we always should have been- missionaries in a country that is not our true home. For decades, if Christians were engaging culture at all, it was often focused solely on conforming external behaviors while ignoring the needs of the heart. Now, whatever illusion we’ve had of Christendom in this country is crumbling at an alarming rate. Some believers may mourn the demise of a culture that, while not necessarily Christian, had a “moral” appearance with predominately Christian traditions. But this was mostly surface stuff. For the Christian, it should always have been about uprooting the tree and planting new seeds, nurturing and cultivating new branches. Branches that bear new fruit.
That is not to say that we should be silent on moral issues in this country, we simply must be careful to never conflate the role of law and the role of the Spirit. If we want to follow Gods command and bear fruit, it will not be through legislation and behavior modification. Only the Spirit of God can bring about genuine spiritual transformation, often working through those who would choose to obey his commands, no matter the cost.
So, as promised, back to our juicy story. For those of you who skipped ahead- tsk tsk. Do read the middle at some point. (You’ll undoubtedly want to hear my reference to breakfast sausage.)
Gretchen’s parents asked for a meeting with Maddy’s mothers and a couple days later the lot of them were found waiting outside of the principal’s office. Mr. Adams, my daughter’s band teacher and Gretchen’s youth leader, was there as well. Maddy had just sustained a season-ending ankle injury and was on crutches. Gretchen asked Maddy if she could pray for the healing of her ankle. She and her mothers consented. Gretchen, her parents, and her youth leader laid their hands on Maddy’s ankle and asked God to heal her. Her ankle began to feel warm and, after the meeting, Maddy walked out of the principal’s office… pain free. (FOR REALS PEOPLE. Yes, God still heals.)
The two mothers, who consider themselves Jews, were floored. They asked if they could talk with Mr. Adams. Specifically, they wanted to know what parts of the Hebrew scriptures were fulfilled by Jesus. Mr. Adams has met with them once a week since then. Even more awesome? Two weeks ago, Maddy’s biological mother decided to follow Jesus. She is overflowing with His Spirit. Now she is wrestling through how to honor God in her relationship. Among others, a former lesbian in Mr. Adam’s church has reached out to her and has committed to traveling this new road with her and her partner.
And that, dear friends, is pretty much the textbook example of how this is supposed to go: Christian stands firm. Stones get thrown. Christian blesses and prays for the aggressor. God shows up. God opens eyes. God changes hearts. Changed hearts lead to changed lives. Church walks through life with the one who has been changed. Thank you ninth-grade Gretchen for giving us a tutorial in living a life of truth and mercy.
So what is my role here on askthebigot? Why blog if the decision’s already been made? Gay marriage is legal here and likely will be in the rest of the country shortly, especially with the corruption taking place among our branches of government. (Yes, I refer to the legislating from the bench, unelected Attorneys General refusing to do their job and defend laws that the citizenry has enacted and so on.)
What I hope is to be one of a growing handful of voices that is striving to strengthen and preserve a remnant of believers who are serious about missional living. Those who wish to follow Jesus radically. Obey Him explicably. Trust Him unequivocally.
There is hope. And it is not in how the Supreme Court rules, nor whether the amendment is struck down or upheld, nor what World Vision considers marriage for their employees. The hope is in God working in the hearts of your neighbor, your nephew, your lab partner, your co-worker, your daughter, your father.
There is hope because God is at work through you.