Last night, Andrew Marin and Michael Kimpan stayed over at my parent’s house. Yes, you read that right. The two are here to speak at my brother’s church about the work that the Marin Foundation is doing and how the congregants can join in the effort.
Their timing couldn’t be more perfect. Minnesota is still reeling from the exhausting and absurdly poisonous “dialogue” that took place leading up to the November Marriage Amendment ballot initiative. I voted against it for the same reason many of my peers did- we wanted to give dialogue another shot. We recognize that we still have much to learn from God and one another and it would be shame if we effectively cut out a whole group from the conversation.
Over coffee this morning, Michael, my brother and myself, spitballed about how to facilitate a conversation between the church and the gay community without letting all hell break lose. At my brother’s church, they had already tried this over the marriage amendment issue. It didn’t really work out that well. The attendees had come to throw bombs, not extend hands. Some folks showed up with their opinions literally Sharpied all over their shirts.
It’s important to note, Michael explained. This is the most emotionally charged issue of the day. Defusing those emotions can only occur if we change the way we relate to one another.
He relayed to us how he could see the avid intensity behind both sides. You hear a Church is talking about building bridges with the gay community and a conservative Christian may feel the need to bring a Leviticus 18 sign, in the name of slowing down the slippery slope and out of love for his church. But the mom of recently out gay kid may going to go to try to find some affirmation of her son’s sexual orientation, out her love for her child.. Get those people into the same room armed with prepared talking points and close ended questions, and the beautiful reconciliation bubble may burst.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once said,
“If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man’s life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.”
Michael reminded me of the purpose of this foundation in the first place. So often as Christians, we look to the definitive answer on this issue through books, pastors, culture and the wells we drink from. Rarely do we ever simply sit back and watch Jesus walk. He was a relational being. There was no place he wouldn’t enter and no person he wouldn’t touch. He lived and breathed reconciliation. The end result of his journey was to square us away with Him. For eternity.
If we start removing the weight of the issue, the insult of difference, the mark we place on those who disagree, the names we call them, where we make them sit… when we finally stop projecting our own fears and prejudices against the other, we may actually get somewhere. We may start seeing the person instead of the position.
Our discourse has become so dysfunctional.
But it’s a wound that I know Jesus can heal.
If we let him.