I don’t usually jump into controversial conversations like this; my style is not necessarily what you’d call ‘provocative’. However, this topic has been burning in my heart, so I’m following the Holy Spirit’s nudge. Allow me, if you will.
I have a friend named Tony who rubs me the wrong way. In a good way. Tony is a writer and story teller (actually, I think he’s an anointed modern-day prophet, but you’ll have to decide that for yourself.)
He also likes to challenge peoples’ notions about Christianity. (Although he uses the term from the Gospels–“The Way.” Are you walking in The Way? You know, like that.)
We had a conversation recently about the issue of homosexuality and the church’s response to it. In particular, a Christian business owner’s response to a gay couple that wanted a wedding cake.
You know, The Cake.
I sort of sided with them, originally. Thought it was the Christian stance and all. The arguments from the ‘other’ people who called themselves Christian really bothered me. Shouldn’t we stand up for what’s right? Why are they so accepting of people who are homosexuals? (I can’t believe I just typed that. But this is a confession.)
As I said, even though the topic made me uncomfortable, like the picture of globe thistles above, it was a good thing. Jesus was constantly doing that–saying things that made people feel uncomfortable.
I feel messy about my thoughts and feelings surrounding the issue. I can’t wrap them up in a nice brown Scripture-covered paper and tie a bow on the package to make it presentable. The thoughts don’t fit in the box.
But isn’t all sin messy? (Yes, homosexuality is a sin. no question there…Scripture is pretty clear. This discussion is not about that, okay?)
But gluttony is a sin.
So is jealousy.
(Lying is called an abomination, too. Did you know that?)
All of these the broken bits of our attempts to shortcut humanity’s need for satisfaction that only comes from God.
MY need. MY humanity.
And Jesus died for all of it.
Discomfort is good when it shatters our closely held beliefs–in particular, MY beliefs about who Jesus might associate with. The words from my previous conversation with Tony began to simmer.
Maybe I’d been too quick to agree with those who won’t bake a cake or arrange flowers for the gay weddings. I wasn’t vocal about it, just an inside head-nodding, ‘yes! that’s right!’ like that.
Then I read my friend Lisa’s blog post about an event where a homosexual had been invited to speak at a church no less–to talk about his book.
Well, that put the icing on the cake. (pun intended). No more inside feelings–I thought I should say something.
What is up with these welcome-armed Christians? Where is the standard?
As God so often does (with a 2 x 4) I just happened to notice in my Bible reading Jesus’ words in Matthew Chapter 9. It was like I’d never seen them before, paid attention to what He had to say to the people who followed him.
“I didn’t come to call the righteous” (read–saved, religious Christian people). No, He came to call the sinners to repentance. He hung out with the prostitutes and the tax collectors. The big ‘S’ sinners. Ate dinner with them.
When Jesus got around His followers and the religious people, He modeled over and over again how to reach out and welcome everyone who would listen.
He was the picture of inclusiveness. I’d never really read it like that before. Which is why the conversations about building bridges to the gay, bisexual, transgender communities is making more sense to me these days.
(It shocks me to say that, but this is a confession, yes? So I’ll start right here and repent of my own sin–judgment, shortsightedness, religiosity…)
That bridge might look like a dinner invite or a coffee meet up or a church invitation, even. Imagine.
Maybe we should open that door.
Maybe we should build that bridge.
(or, as Tony said to me…)
Maybe we should bake the d@*! cake and make it the loveliest cake ever….
I think that’s what Jesus would do.
Endnote: Dear Readers, I am riddled through with humanity (see above) and as my dear Portland friend Elizabeth pointed out in the Comments (see below) I did not have all the facts on the cake baking issue. It sounds like the woman did exactly what Jesus would do–prayed about it then made a decision which she lovingly shared with her customer.
That I agree with.
What I MEANT by ‘bake the d— cake’ was its representation to me to think again about my responses to homosexuals and gay people, not to judge first. They don’t need more ammunition to not like Christians, for sure. I think opening doors and conversations might be a start.
THAT’S what I meant….