Linda’s Finally Blogging…100 Percent!
Francis writes me:
As a gay man I wonder if you have read Linda’s, “Just Because He Breathes: Learning to Truly Love Our Gay Son”? If so, what are your thoughts on the article?
My first reaction was “Will you adopt me?” I think, if memory serves, I’m a year or two older than Rob. Doesn’t matter.
My second reaction: gotta hand it to Alan Chambers…if you’re going to reform as a ministry aimed at helping churches deal with homosexual issues, these are the people you want to have brainstorming with you. Jesus did not hammer sinners. (He went full beast on some Pharisees and money changers, but every encounter with other sinners is remarkably loving.) This was a radical, revolutionary being. People tore roofs off houses to get to Him.
There is such a need on the part of the evangelical cognoscenti to make sure that each and every homosexual knows that they are sinners. (And, often unsaid but definitely written between the lines is Sinner with a capital S.) Mars Hill did this when I was there: they would send mixed signals about inclusion, how homosexuality was not the worst sin in the Bible, yet the pastor would let loose a continual barrage of quien es mas macho comments about how Christianity is not for “sweater-wearing cat owners” but for real men who could show that machismo by courting a woman and raising a proper Christian family. Any man who did not meet this standard? The punchline was often a joke about being “gay.”
Nothing like marketing towards your base.
I do not believe that we must compromise the truth or the Gospel to reach out to homosexual men and women in love. L0ve. Remember that? It’s the thing that people felt so passionately when they ripped off the roof to get to Jesus. It’s the thing that gathered five thousand to hear Him speak.
In the beginning, when Mars Hill was only a few years old, people RAN to services there. There was something about that place that was strong, that compelled you attend services like nothing else you’d ever experienced. They couldn’t afford to turn the lights on, so services were by candlelight. During the summer they kept the doors wide open and it was still a sweatbox. The music was nothing short of awful, over one rickety speaker, but you never missed the worship. The sermons were alarmingly professorial. I remember one that lasted an hour and forty five minutes. It was not uncommon to have him preach for 45 minutes and then declare, “Okay, that’s the introduction.” Yet people of every kind and every stripe came running. Chains…tattoos…goth…punk…everyone felt at home, felt accepted and met right where they were at. They felt love and acceptance on the most basic and immediate level.
Where has this love gone? Not just MH…everywhere. We’ve corrupted faith with politics (instead of influencing politics with faith) and it is not uncommon to hear elected officials disparage gays, and to do it in the name of Jesus using whichever scripture they can to reinforce their bigotry. Worse, the same language is heard from pulpits and on television programs that never fail to book a religious pundit to denounce gays in the strongest possible language. Some actually have the presumptuous leathery crust to complain that they are being discriminated against by people who call them on the fact that their need to be right that has triumphed over their obligation to love.
In this context, Rob and Linda are a breath of fresh air. They are sadly considered radical and get a busload of crap from people who think they’re “letting down the faith” by “embracing homosexuals.” I think it’s about time somebody embraced us in the name of Jesus and I am so grateful it’s Rob and Linda. I think God has transformed their grief and sorrow over losing Ryan into a ministry that has already touched thousands and has proclaimed the love of Christ in a radical, inclusive tsunami. I’m in the audience with a bucket of popcorn…cheering loudly.
EDIT: You can read Linda’s first post on the Huffington Post here.