Faith is a journey that reveals the new and unexpected everyday. That’s a core belief we have at Believe Out Loud. We challenge ourselves, and others, to walk a mile in the shoes of those around us in an attempt to grow and strengthen our common humanity.
That’s why we're committed to working with Christians and allies of all walks of life whose opinions, along with the broader public opinion, continue to swing toward equality. As Rev. Dr. Richard Fowler describes in a recent sermon, we see "Love Rising Up, To Break Every Chain" of injustice and bigotry as more Americans walk, talk and journey together with their LGBT neighbors.
Yet there are still many Christians who adopt exclusive beliefs and theologies that often feel void of compassion.
One of our supporters Jason Galvez and his family experienced this recently when they sold a humidifier to a man via craigslist. Once “Bob” discovered Jason was in a same-sex marriage, he took it upon himself to make his view known, sending multiple emails with “cherry-picked” scriptures to condemn the family. Jason writes: "I could either spend my energy being bothered by Bob’s attacks, or I could use his inappropriate emails as an opportunity to motivate this blog.”
As Jason’s post demonstrates, Christians must read and apply scripture against the litmus of compassion.
This is a similar theme James Rowe reflects on in his recent post, “Why Cant This Mister Be A Sister?” As a child, James saw compassion, humor, and love in various Catholic Sisters in his life including The Flying Nun, played by a young Sally Field on television. More recently, he recognized these same values in the Catholic Sisters who lead Nuns On the Bus: “I can’t help but smile when I think it was a flying nun who first inspired me to go to church and decades later it was a busload of nuns who would move me to return.”
Like many Catholics, James was disappointed by the lack of compassion he saw within his church around human sexuality issues, but he describes how he’s found his way back into the sanctuary. “As I prepare to re-enter the church I once loved, I realize some things have changed … all I have now is a love for God, forgiveness in my heart and some true Christian sisters who could use my support.”
While each of our journeys is unique, we need space to learn from each other and dialogue about our differences.
This includes understanding amongst other pro-equality Christians, whose theological beliefs can be just as diverse.
In Expanding Christian Covenant, for example, Dr. David Gushee, is critical of the “moral commitment” he believes many heterosexual marriages lack. He wonders if the legalization of same-sex marriages would help or hurt this contemporary dilemma: “If gays and lesbians can contribute to a narrative of renewed moral commitment by modeling steadfast, lifetime covenant love in Christ, they can make a lovely contribution to the church and to society…”
Conservative and progressive Christians alike are asking difficult questions about marriage equality as we continue to examine one of our most cherished institutions.
As Sally Steenland describes in a recent OpEd: “traditional marriage—as it existed centuries ago—is not worth defending … the institution of marriage does change and adapt over the years, and that is what makes it endure.”
As we continue our work toward LGBT equality, Christians are challenged to discuss differing theological beliefs through the lens of compassion.
For some, like Matthew Vines, this dialogue involves empowering conservative Christians to engage “thoroughly and systematically” in biblical arguments. For others, like Rev. Cedric Harmon, it means mobilizing pastors and church leaders to “model what it means to learn, listen and love across our differences.” And still for others, like singer-songwriter Jennifer Knapp, it might be the simple act of telling your story and creating space for others to share theirs as well.
We all have the power to make the lives of our LGBT neighbors better as we walk forward with our fellow Christians. However you choose to engage with those around you, I hope these conversations are filled with faith and compassion.
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