Feb 272011
 

If you haven’t read the original post, please start here.

I’m not a smart man. But I know what Love Is. – Forrest Gump

Several years ago at church, Craig and I sat through a sermon condemning homosexuality. As I listened to the sermon, which was based upon two lines of scripture in the New Testament, every fiber in my body rejected the message. My palms sweated, my heart pounded, and I started to feel queasy. I left the church building that day on fire and didn’t get a good night’s sleep for a month.

Instead of sleeping, I spent my nights scouring scripture, researching the positions of different denominations, and praying and praying and praying some more. I wrote this to several ministers: “I am a Christian and a seeker and I’m trying desperately to reconcile God’s commandment to love my neighbor without judgment and the church’s stance on homosexuality. Would you discuss this with me?” Not one minister wrote back. Every morning when the sun finally came up, I’d call Sister at work. She’d answer her phone with: “We’re gonna talk about the gays again, aren’t we, Sister?” Yes, Sister. Yes, we are. Clear your schedule.

Figuring out my stance on homosexuality felt like a life and death decision. When I described the intensity of my concern to other Christians, most would say, “but, why? You don’t even have a gay family member.” This response was very confusing to me. Isn’t the whole point of Christianity that we are all family? That we should love our neighbors as ourselves? That if any of us is hungry, we are all hungry? That if any of us is oppressed, we are all oppressed? According to the Jesus I read about in the Gospels, these people who were being persecuted for their sexuality WERE my family. The children who were killing themselves because the world (and the church in particular) would not accept them WERE my children. And I thought that being a Christian required me to love them, to ache for them, to fight for them with the same urgency I would have if I were fighting for myself. The fact that I had never met them before was completely inconsequential, according to Jesus.

I have these new friends named Jaime and Laura…they’re gay and married. They love each other very much. I recently looked through their photos and noticed that their wedding looked a lot like mine. Actually, their lives look a lot like mine, except that their son, Simon, is very sick with a heart condition. So I’m not sure they really give a rat’s ass right now if Christians “accept” them or call their love for each other “sinful” or not because they are quite busy caring for each other and Simon and running between hospitals and home and having a brutiful life together. But I’m glad they slowed down enough to know me, because my life is better with them in it. I love them, and I love Simon.

The following exerpt is based on one of my favorite passages from Huckleberry Finn, and I think it sums up the decision I’ve made about Laura and Jaime’s family.

“Whenever I think of the word “empathy,” I think of a small boy named Huckleberry Finn contemplating his friend and runaway slave, Jim. Huck asks himself whether he should give Jim up or not.Huck was told in Sunday school that people who let slaves go free go to everlasting fire.” But then, Huck says he imagines he and Jim in “the day and nighttime, sometimes moonlight, sometimes storms, and we a-floating along, talking and singing and laughing.” Huck remembers Jim and their friendship and warmth. He imagines Jim not as a slave but as a human being and he decided that, “alright, then, I’ll go to hell.” - This I Believe, 172

When I say things like this my Christian friends get very alarmed. They say to me:Aren’t you afraid of saying and writing these things? Aren’t you afraid of God?

Well, yes. But when I consider discussing all of these things over with Jesus one day, when I imagine telling Him what I thought I heard Him saying to me, when I explain how my heart understood His message, I realize that I’d be much more afraid to stand in front of Him if I didn’t write these things. I know my Jesus, I love Him, and I think if he needed me to believe that homosexuality was a sin, He would have mentioned it. He didn’t. When deciphering the message of Jesus, I weigh the Gospels heavier than any other part of the Bible.And when Jesus said that marriage was between a man and a woman, he was responding to a question about divorce, not sexuality.* And even the Gospels… well, even though they are gospel to me, I accept that they are also interpretations of what Jesus said and did and meant…we don’t have a single written word directly from Jesus. He could have left us something….he could have left another list of rights and wrongs when He came to Earth, but he chose not to. The only words he ever wrote were in the sand. . . words that He knew would disappear almost immediately. ** The answers, my friend… are blowing in the wind. Why? I don’t know. Maybe He wanted us to know him well enough to make our decisions about Him based on our relationship with Him. Maybe He wanted us to wrestle with Him, to work out our own faith with fear and trembling. That’s what I think, anyway. I think I’m starting to recognize His still, small voice. And I’m betting everything on my belief in our relationship, on my understanding of His character and love. Aren’t we all?And if I’m wrong, and I very well could be . . . I don’t really think He’ll send me to hell for it. I think He knows I’m doing the best I can down here. I know He knows that. I believe.

And while we’re at it . . . that still, small voice suggests to me often that He’d appreciate if Christians picked up a couple more issues other than homosexuality and abortion to address. You know, maybe a couple He actually mentioned…like care for the poor and sick and lonely and hungry and imprisoned and widowed and orphaned and recently immigrated.

Last week I was stuck at a stop light behind a Luxury SUV sporting a huge abortion bumper sticker with a picture of a baby that read, “It is a poverty that a child must die so that you can live how you wish.”- Mama T.

Well, okay. Fair enough. Mama T certainly removed the plank in her own eye before discussing the specks in others. She took a vow of poverty and dedicated her entire life to serving the least of these. She also announced at a Nobel Peace Dinner that any woman considering an abortion could instead give her baby to her Sisters of Charity, and they would find a way to care for it. Mama T earned the right to step in by constantly stepping up.

But for the rest of us, some of whom are most comfortable addressing pro-life issues vehicularly . . . might we also discuss how many starving children our car payments could feed every month? Isn’t it also a poverty that children must starve so that we can drive what we wish?

I just think that if we are going to call ourselves pro-life, we must also agree that starvation and poverty and disease and immigration and health care for all and war and peace and the environment are also pro-life issues. And that if we really care about making a difference and honoring God- given life, we might want to meet with the Man in the Mirror before calling anybody else out. And maybe in the meantime we could have a bumper sticker made that says: “We are all Confused Hypocrites. But God Loves Us anyway, which is Good News. So out of Gratitude, We are Trying to Remember That We Belong To Each Other.” I’d buy that one.

My point is that this gay ship has sailed, I think. We’re gonna have to sponsor another revolution because for the gays, the times, they are a’ changing already. Gay people wrote to me by the hundreds to tell me that they read the post again and again, pretending that the letter was from their own parents. Therapists requested my permission to use the letter with their gay and straight clients to teach them about unconditional love. Churches from all over the country asked to use the post in their weekly bulletins. A student at UC Berkley told me that her professor of religious studies distributed the letter to all of his students. I felt very humble about this, which is why I only wear my homemade “THE RELIGIOUS STUDIES PROFESSOR AT UC BERKLEY DISTRIBUTED MY POST TO ALL HIS STUDENTS” T-shirt to bed. And sometimes to the grocery store, when I’m having an insecure day.

But I also received challenging responses to my post. None were mean-spirited, none were offensive. People are better than we give them credit for.

Many people said that they agree that people are born gay, but that it is still a sin to act on it. These people suggested that homosexuals should remain celibate.

But my understanding is that celibacy is a sacred calling, not a hiding place or a consequence. Celibacy is like…it’s like we all have the same capacity to love inside of us, the same amount of light to shine……and most of use that light, that love, like a laser…it’s all concentrated and focused on one partner. But the celibate hears a call to use his light, his love, more like a flood light. He knows that if he’s not required to shine a laser on one person, that his light can be dispersed to many more….maybe not burning a hole into another heart, but lighting up entire rooms. He can reach more people with his love through celibacy because it’s not all focused on one person. Ghandi felt called to be a flood light instead of a laser…and heeded the call to celibacy while he was married. His wife accepted this as the way he was being called to serve his God and his people. And so celibacy…it’s a sacred calling to love. And I fear that when we suggest that homosexuals save themselves by choosing celibacy, that we insult both the gays and the celibates. Celibacy is not a Plan B.

Other Monkees have explained that they believe that homosexuality is a sin, but no more of a sin than pride and anger and selfishness. And since we are all sinners too, we shouldn’t judge the gays. Hate the sin, love the sinner type thing. I don’t know. I guess I have just always accepted the fact that we are put on this Earth to love. To Love God and love our neighbors. And those sins, pride, anger, and selfishness…those sins get in the way of loving God and loving our neighbors. So we should fight them tooth and nail. We should fight them to the death. But homosexuality…I can’t see how a woman sharing her God given light with another woman interferes with her Loving Her God and Loving Her Neighbor.

Unless we come back to: because it says so in the Bible. And we have faith that our understanding of the Bible is infallible. We believe that our human minds can grasp the meaning of all scripture perfectly and so we have faith that homosexuality is a sin.

But you know what the Bible also says? The Bible says “And these three remain. Hope, Faith, and Love. And the greatest of these is love.” ***

There will come a point when hope and faith cease to exist. When the next world is revealed, we will know . . . we won’t need hope or faith anymore. Those two are temporary. Hope and faith exist only to help us make it though this life.

But LOVE. Love is eternal. Love never ends. The love we offer and receive in this world we’ll carry with us into the next. The greatest of these is love. When in doubt, I choose love above any particular ideas offered to me about faith.

And that means that I love my gay friends, without agenda. And I love my friends who believe that homosexuality is a sin, without agenda. And I love my friends who are terrified for my soul when I write this way, without agenda.

Because listen – here’s the thing. After my wrestling match with God, I wasn’t really exhausted enough. I still came up swinging. For a little while, I felt angry. Angry at anyone who had a different understanding of scripture than I did. Angry at people who taught that God disapproved of homosexuality. Prideful about my position, really. And then one day God sat my butt down with the Bible again.

And he said something to me like, “Wait a minute, Lovie. Yes, I love those gays, but I love the ones picketing against them every bit as much. That’s the point.”

And There’s the rub. There’s Christianity. It’s not deciding that one group shouldn’t be judged and then turning around and judging the other group. That is not being a peacemaker. Peacemakers resist categorizing people. They find the light, the good, in each and every person. They don’t try to change people, except by example. They know everyone has something important to teach. They are humble about their ideas and their opinions. They try to find common ground, always.

I now have friends who are gay and friends who preach against homosexuality. I have friends who are ministers and friends who are atheists. Listen, I even have a new friend who is a Dallas Cowboys fan. With God, all things are possible.

The point is – if you’re hungry – you are all welcome at my table. None of you is less welcome than the other. This place is a banquet table for gays and straights and prudes and hoochies and cheerleaders and tuba players and pharisees and alpha moms and slacker moms and tax collectors and fishermen and choir girls and heathens. It’s a banquet table where people who are different can come together and share a meal and maybe not change each other’s minds, but possibly soften each other’s hearts.

Oh, yes…we can do that. We already have.

You do not have to agree with me to love me.

So at this table, this Momastery table . . . we talk to each other in soft voices, and we smile and we say, “pass the wine, please,” and we ask about each other’s children. Sometimes we even pass around some pictures. We share our families with each other. And we also share some of those magical laughs when we can’t speak and the tears are rolling and we’re gasping for breath and our stomachs hurt like we just did a hundred crunches. Maybe we even pee a little. And maybe in the middle of all that, we start knowing each other as people instead of categories. And we accept that we are different, and we understand that each person’s choices are her own, and so we don’t have to be angry with each other. We are free to love each other.

She told me that once she forgot herself and her heart opened up like a door with a loose latch and everything fell out and she tried for days to put it all back in the proper order, but she finally gave up and left if there in a pile and loved everything equally.- Brian Andreas

Love,
G

*Mark 10

**John 8

***1 Corinthians 13 



Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
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  117 Responses to “A Mountain I’m Willing To Die On, Part Two”

  1. So, I really needed to read this today. I have run a group called “52 Weeks of Giving” for the past 3 years (today starts our 4th year!) and a group of 20 local kids – ages 5-18 – meet at our library and perform a weekly act of kindness. Our kids are starting to grow up and be interested in not-little-kid-things. About 98% of them are full hard-core, straight against hate, gay supporting awesomeness and I love that their kindness extends to everyone. Oh, I should probably mention we live in a tiny town in Appalachia. So after a program a couple of weeks ago we were cleaning up and one of the kids put on the “Same Love” video and I didn’t think a thing about it. Until one girl who rarely comes went home and told her mom. And her mom (who I serve on boards with, whose daughter I taught drama to for 2 years, who I fundraised for MS for because she has it) wrote a 2 page, scathing character assassination of me to the library without ever coming to me to discuss the issue. It hurt. And I have been harboring some pretty serious righteous anger at her. And I have lost sleep. But today you reminded me that God loves here and I need to as well so thanks so much for that because I can be prideful about my position, too, and I don’t always remember that.

    You can see a little blurb GMA did about our group of kiddos here. They are amazing and I am super proud of them.

    http://gma.yahoo.com/blogs/abc-blogs/middlesboro-ky-kids-honored-52-weeks-giving-124359265.html

  2. […] read lots of articles and opinion pieces on this issue.  I’m choosing to reblog this particular piece because it’s excellent, because my sister reposted it on facebook (and if she has the courage […]

  3. So well said. Thank you for your eloquence. I don’t share your Christian beliefs – I tend to believe in all of the great religions. But I think that the Jesus that existed would bow and applaud and invite you in for dinner. I’m pretty sure of it. Thank you for the inspiration. Keep it coming.

  4. Dear Glennon,
    Your Part One made me cry – just beautiful! I just discovered this Part 2 while doing a search for Part One again. Wow! I’m so glad I found it.
    Now I wanted to share something with you.
    I didn’t go back thought all the comments so perhaps someone already shared this with you but if not I really want you to see it. I think you would like it and it could help you and your readers.
    http://johnshore.com/2012/04/02/the-best-case-for-the-bible-not-condemning-homosexuality/
    Somehow, we’re all going to get to a better place of love and understanding. Thanks for helping to lead the way,
    Kerry

  5. Glennon. In this one, you're inside my head, as so many others have said. You gave me gut busting laughs and tears in the same post. Thank you thank you thank you for writing. I need your voice to make sense of the mess of thoughts running around inside me. What a magical moment when those lonesome, messy thoughts in my head meet clarity in your writing, like a puzzle that gets its final, missing piece.

    I have sent COUNTLESS posts of yours to friends since discovering your blog. Also, I got up the nerve to speak about becoming a new mom in my church. I was SO NERVOUS, but you had helped me tell the truth through your writing, like your muse visited me. What a scary and exciting thing to have words to say.

    May I also say… these past weeks must have been so crazy for you. I have thought of you often. I am cheering for you and sending prayers of peace to you and your family as you navigate the effects of being totally awesome (am I right?) ;) Please get some rest somehow. This is important work you do.

    Much love and carry on, warrior.

    PS – I'm at this old post because I was searching through the archives to find one of my favorites to send to a friend (I use your blog like Google) and discovered this gem.

  6. I am an atheiest. Really. I am absolutely convinced that this god stuff is man made and most of the time – harmful. I've even considered it child abuse. You're one of the exceptions. You are the Christ-like Christian that Ghandi would have liked. I wish there were more like you, then this belief in a son of god would actually do more good than harm. Teach your children well and thanks for writing.

  7. I wanted to say Alec was right in what he was saying regarding homosexuality is a sin but he is incorrect on saying that you cannot be a homosexual and a "Christian".
    Let me go back to how I commented on a sin is a sin is a sin. We all sin. God does not put homosexuality as any worse sin than murder or lying or lust, etc. BUT, if you become a Christian by the true definition of that (by the way, the term Christian is only mentioned twice in the bible) which means you called on the name of the Lord and asked for forgiveness of your sins and asked Jesus to save you (check out Romans 10), then you have salvation in the Lord's eyes and He will take you to heaven. No matter what. No matter how many more times you sin (which by the way, will be daily as we cannot even get past the first commandment). Now, just cuz you have this pass into heaven and all your sins are forgiven does not give you license to sin. God will rebuke you for any sin but you will still have a home with Him.
    Anyhow, why do we worry so much about this sin? We need to look at our own selves first and realize the time spent persecuting others should go towards our own closer walk with God.

  8. Desmond Tutu preached at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco yesterday. I wish I could have been there, but this article seems to capture him well.

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=%2Fc%2Fa%2F2011%2F03%2F07%2FBA0N1I52VF.DTL

  9. Yay, everyone. Just, yay.

    we can do hard things.

  10. Peter Gomes, who wrote the essay that Sharyn linked, just died in the last week or so. He has been a very important voice in the Episcopal church for years.

  11. This is hard dialogue and I am LOVING it. I love that folks are letting all their stuff hang out and people are getting each others backs when it gets sharp and everyone is behaving. I wouldn't believe it was possible if I weren't seeing it happen in front of my eyes.

    The thing I keep coming back to is that I'm really okay with people not liking me, not liking my family, thinking gay people are bad. I'm okay with Anonymous and Alec and other folks who are really upset about this issue and calling me a sinner and saying my wife and I and people we (and Glennon) love, are maybe going to hell for it.

    I'm not out to change anyone's mind about how they FEEL about gay people. Feelings are great and everyone gets to have them.

    What I do care about is what people DO with those feelings. I care when people adopt policies that hurt gay people based on these feelings. Gay people actually aren't hurting anyone else by loving each other. Glennon isn't ACTUALLY hurting anyone by loving us.

    Some folks clearly think we're hurting ourselves spiritually and will have to answer to God when we die. We won't know until it's time, but the way I see it, that's really our problem, not theirs. I can guarantee you every single gay person in this country has heard about Jesus. Some of us are interested, and many of us are not. Spreading the word has been done quite adequately in this country and throwing the Bible at us is not likely to help us come into the fold. For those who cite the Bible to convince us (queer people and allies) that we're on the wrong path, consider your job done and realize that may of us are exercising our agency and free will. I appreciate your intention. I honestly do. I get that you think you are trying to help us somehow. Know that we know how you feel and know what you would like us to to and know that we are going to take our chances and live the best life we can live, filled with love and connection.

    I say feel your feelings, believe what you believe but when it comes time to pull the lever in the voting booth on a policy or elect someone, think about what you're really voting for. Are you voting to actively hurt a particular group of people, or are you voting as a responsible member of society who wants to honor emotional/theoretical disagreement and create a society where people can live the best lives they can live?

    -Jaime

  12. OMIGOODGOODGRACIOUS.

    G, everybody. I just read this, like, ten seconds ago. YOU MUST READ IT.

    http://www.philosophy-religion.org/handouts/homophobic.htm

    My heart is fist-pumping right now. Seriously.

    Love you all!

    -Sharyn

  13. vrwfox –

    "Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are." (1Cor 1:26-28)

    Kind of reminds me of that Matt Redman song, "I will dance, I will sing, to be mad for my King, nothing Lord is hindering the passion in my soul — and I'll become even more undignified than this."

    Three cheers for undignified Love!

    Much Love,
    -Sharyn

  14. I have spent the last 24 hours wanting to say something. Wanting to speak as a Monkee who takes Jesus and the Bible seriously and still agrees fully that God's call is to inclusive love. I kept formulating biblical arguments, but reading Sharyn's words moves me. We aren't here to argue. We're also not here to be morally squishy. Glennon's writings inspire and touch because they are healing and loving and challenging.

    I don't think this is an either/or situation. I think it's both/and. Glennon is making a feast (in words, not food– 'cause that is NOT how she rolls) and, there is room for everyone at this table. It's not how I'm used to engaging these issues– and I am thankful to be doing this differently. This is a different path and it is a way that takes us through a wasteland of arguments to a more growing, fertile land. And instead of wracking my brain for the perfect point to convince everyone, I offer this from Isaiah 43:

    18 “Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.
    19 See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
    I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland.
    20 The wild animals honor me,
    the jackals and the owls,
    because I provide water in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland,
    to give drink to my people, my chosen,
    21 the people I formed for myself
    that they may proclaim my praise.

  15. Sharyn:

    Thank you. Just from me. But a big loud, thank you. I want to be you when I grow up.

    Meghan

  16. SHARYN FOR PRESIDENT!!

  17. I love this place. Love, love, love it!
    :)MK

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