Straight Guy + Gay Pride?
June 6, 2010

[I would often make fun of gays, lesbians, and anyone else who wasn’t unquestionably heteronormative. Of course I never directly harassed or assaulted “them” because that just wouldn’t be Christian of me, but I would certainly mock them and speak terribly of them behind their backs. Perhaps the most common and most justifiable way I would do this was to tell my Christian friends and family to “pray for them, because they’re really messed up” or something to that effect. I would then segue into mocking them, doing my most flamboyant caricature. And then I’d go back to saying something like, “But just pray for them.”]

For many if not most Christians, the gay issue is the line in the sand. Once you cross it philosophically, you are officially “out there.” Sure, there are other issues that define the barriers of Christianity, but for many, one’s stance on “the gay thing” is currently the single most combustible topic. One might be considered merely “iffy” if they were to deny or question some basic tenets of the faith. But if one even vaguely affirms the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT/Q) community, they have crossed a line that deems them truly deceived.

Churches that welcome and affirm non-hetero people represent the ultimate edges of Christianity. Even if those churches were to believe some of the most conservative doctrines in Christendom, if they, for instance, allow a gay man into leadership without requiring him to denounce his “lifestyle” as sin, they are a “weird” church, or a cult or something like that, but they are certainly not really Christian. Because affirming non-hetero individuals is, for many, the one thing that is most definitely incompatible with the Bible.

So doing what I did this past weekend was a big deal: I marched in a gay pride parade. Yes, I am straight (and so is my wife). And no, I wasn’t there to protest. I was there to walk beside and affirm my brothers and sisters who happen to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, and those of other non-hetero nature. And I wasn’t alone. I was with many other Christ-followers from my church. And there were scores of others from other churches as well. And we joined with thousands of others in the streets of Austin and celebrated the beauty of us all.

The cheers were amazingly celebratory when the crowds watching us realized we were a church, and when they saw our banners, which said things like “You can love God and love gays too!” and “God loves everybody!” Onlookers whooped and hollered in agreement.  People pointed and took pictures of our signs, some teared up, some gave us hugs and high-fives. And some looked confused. And to be sure, this was definitely the first time I’ve ever seen the LGBT community actually cheer for Christians. Because Churches are known to be the ones that protest pride parades, not march in them. And because Christians are, unfortunately, the last people expected to fully accept, much less affirm LGBTs.

But enough of this dancing around the issue. What you really want to read in this post is what I believe about homosexuality, right? What side of the line do I stand on? So here it is:

I believe that what I believe does not matter unless it helps make things better. I believe that God has not pronounced that my approval or disapproval of someone or something has any credence whatsoever. What I do or do not deem as “sin” will change absolutely nothing. But I do believe that when I am face to face with another human — when I look into their eyes, when our hands touch or when we exchange a smile — if I can see them as beautiful and valuable to the universe, as a representation of God, and not just as an anonymous representative of an argument or a mindless pawn of the devil — if I can treat them with the same love that I so desperately seek — I think we can get a glimpse of the better way of living that Jesus talked about. When we join hands as humans instead of pushing against “the other,” we can create a tiny spark of divine beauty that opens a door to let God’s plan enter our lives. That’s what I believe is the Kingdom of Heaven. And while there are  arguments on both sides of the line, none really matter in the big scheme of things. But actions do.

That’s why I believe that every Christian should march together with LGBTs in a pride parade at least once. Whether I do or do not approve of something or someone makes no difference. But the way I see people does. The way I treat people creates either an environment that’s open or closed to divine possibilities. My words and actions — not my beliefs — determine, moment by moment, whether God’s will is or is not being “done here on earth as it is in Heaven.”

And when I allow God’s spirit to talk more than me, I begin to see that the line is in fact drawn in sand, not concrete. And God made the sand; we just decided to scrawl in it. To make ourselves feel more secure, perhaps? To call the best players over to our side to ensure that we’ll have the winning team in a meaningless game? I say these things not as a statement that I’m on the opposite side of some line, nor to demean people who disagree with me. I say these things because a powerful love that I feel deeply tells me that there does not have to be a line. But if there is, I choose to let God do the drawing. Because his artwork is so much more beautiful than my little lines.

Of course, many would say that God’s already drawn a firm line on this issue, based on the same ancient middle-eastern laws that also defined menstruating women as untouchable, and on the opinions of the first Christian missionary (Paul, not Jesus). So this is why LGBTs are the untouchable lepers of our society. I just choose to believe that God’s drawing does not consist merely of a series of straight dividing lines. I suggest instead that what some may see as a singular dividing line is really just a tiny section of an infinitely big circle that includes everyone.

My LGBT friends are precious, beautiful people. And one of my gay friends has been for me an amazing example of what a real man should be: integrous, loving, genuine, honest… Because people like this are in fact people like all of us, these individuals deserve the same rights and privileges. They deserve for their loved ones to be able to visit them in the hospital and make decisions on their behalf. They deserve to have their marriages acknowledged…as marriages. They deserve to be left alone. They deserve to not be mocked by people like me. They deserve the unconditional love of God as much as anyone. And they are not untouchable.

I think I may have caught a little glimpse of God’s artwork this weekend when we gathered with thousands of others to celebrate the touchableness of each other. And especially when, in an incredibly rare moment, people actually rejoiced and cheered when Christians came around…