I am a listener and a synthesizer — a “P” in Myers Briggs terms. This means I like to hear all sides of the story, get all the data, and take my time processing and making decisions. I’ve been trying to listen to people on all “sides” of the debate raging now in America: Straight conservative Christians, gay conservative Christians, progressive Christians, agnostics, the politically conservative and the politically liberal. I’ve been trying to resist the temptation to let my own leanings prevent me from really hearing people who I disagree with. It’s hard. There are a lot of hurting people in this debate. There has been a lot of collateral damage. I think Jen Hatmaker summed it up really well in her recent post, Where I Stand:
As I lay in bed, it was instantly and perfectly clear that the gay community has been spiritually beaten, stripped of dignity, robbed of humanity, and left for dead by much of the church. You need only look at the suicide rates, prevalence of self-harm, and the devastating pleas from ostracized gay people and those who love them to see what has plainly transpired.
Laying next to them, bloodied and bruised, are believers whose theology affirms homosexuality and allows them to stand alongside their gay friends. (Again, you don’t have to agree with this, but there are tens of thousands of thinking, studied people who hold this conviction.) The spiritual gutting of these brothers and sisters is nothing short of shameful. The mockery and dismissal and vitriol leveled at these folks is disgraceful.
Also wounded on the side of the road are Christians who sincerely love God and people and believe homosexuality is a sin, but they’ve been lumped in with the Big Loud Mean Voices unfairly. Painted as hateful intolerants, they are actually kind and loving and are simply trying to be faithful. The paintbrush is too wide, the indictments unfounded.
Jen is drawing, of course, on the parable of the Good Samaritan. In the parable, a group of robbers fell upon a traveler and beat him. Two respectable, religious men walked by on the other side of the road, ignoring the injured traveler. It was a Samaritan, an outcast and spiritual heretic who came along and helped him. I would suggest that the three groups above: the gay community, progressive Christians, and conservative Christians are not only the wounded travelers in the parable: We are also those called upon to help each other.
It’s hard when you yourself have been a victim of brutality, to realize that you actually have another role in the story. It’s hard to reach over from your place of pain to offer succor to the broken person next to you. It’s especially hard when he’s wearing the same clothes as the men who who beat you. But, here’s the thing: You’re wearing the same clothes as the men who beat him.
For what it’s worth, I just wanted to take this little post on my little blog to say: I hear you. All of you. Within all three of those groups listed above, I have friends and acquaintances who are sincere and loving and feeling brutalized. I feel it myself. I don’t quite know how to reach over and offer comfort yet, but I will do what I can for now, what I know how to do, and that is to listen. Thanks for reading.
[…] I think we have a lot to learn from each other, and even healing to offer each other. (See my post Wounded Healers for more of my thoughts about that.) But I ask that you phrase your comments kindly and […]
Jessica, I just read your blog about the extra mile on FB,I believe it was posted by a friend of your brother ? I’ve been reading your stuff for over an hour now and I want to thank you for writing so many things I would say but don’t because I feel my writing or grammar isn’t good enough. The grammar police get me all the time. I’ll be following you from now on
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Galadrialle, thanks so much for reading! Please don’t let fear of writing badly stop you from sharing your thoughts — No less than three of my friends have emailed me in the last three days to tell me of spelling mistakes I made on my blog. 🙂
I don’t get to Jen Hatmaker’s blog, so thanks for sharing that piece with your own thoughts. I’m trying to synthesize a lot of this myself, especially since EVERYONE in my state has been painted with the “you are horrible, hateful people” brush, including by many who would do well to remove the specks from their own eyes.
Yes. Sigh ….
Thank You!!! It is healing to hear statements of support. I grew up in the fifties. I am a Christian and a daughter of a minister. I was frightened, horrified, and had a hard time accepting that I was gay. It wasn’t a choice for me but who I am. I have hated myself for years. I have also spent years trying to deny who I am, and even more years asking God WHY? I know two things. God made me gay and I love him with all my heart. I searched years for a place to worship. One where I would not only be accepted but allowed to fully participate in church life. I was recently married, after waiting 22 years for it to be legal, by our minister. I praise God daily for a Church where love and acceptance shines brightly. Recent events have stirred up old hurts. It hurts to hear how strongly people feel about denying one group of people something based on religious freedom. It isn’t true freedom and definitely isn’t what God would want if it harms another. Blessings Dani R.
Dani, thank you for sharing. ❤
This was a well-written and thoughtful post – thank you for writing. In many ways sin, of all types and categories is a great leveler; we are all guilty (Romans 3:23). Knowing this should help us to be more compassionate and kind to everyone.