Why I seem “wishy-washy”

This evening I was asked a very good question by a Twitter follower so I decided I should probably clarify some things for everyone.

I was asked my position on a tweet I retweeted. My follower commented:

@DrTristaCarr sometimes I dont understand why you RT the things you do…what is your take on the “ex-radical lesbian” story from Piper?”

My reply went something like this:

“Thanks for the question. I like mystery… jk ;-) But in all seriousness, I want people to be informed of various views & stories.”

With a brief follow up (spelling error and all!):

“And, I like to challenge people to think outside of their comfortable boxes without engendering judgement of the ‘other’.”

My assumption is that, because I post comments that might seem at odds with one another, or because I retweet posts from people with whom I both agree and might not necessarily agree, there are a few folks out there who are wondering where I land in this whole gay-Christian debacle.

Thus, in the spirit of Jodie Foster, I would like to say: I am…a…single…

…and…maybe that was funnier in my head.

Anyway, let me get back to my point. I do tend to make comments on posts that some of my more traditionally conservative friends might find challenging to their theology. As well, I want to push my more progressive friends to consider the narratives and stories of those who are more conservative. I do not do this to intentionally frustrate but to attempt to encourage everyone to think outside of their own situations and boxes to see that there are other worldviews, other theologies, other people in this wonderful world who are all just as valued and loved by God as everyone else.

To repeat a catchy, and horribly “Christianeesey,” saying that is absolutely True:

We are all level at the foot of the Cross.

The woman who writes of her journey with God and states that she was a radical lesbian and is now a heterosexually married Christian is no less worth hearing than the formally closeted young believer who bravely admitted to herself and her church body that she has same-sex attractions and now claims a gay identity. Both stories are valid. Both stories are real. Both people are loved.

Here’s where it gets sticky though: For years the traditionally conservative theological framework has produced individuals who have not acted in Christ-like ways toward individuals who are “different”—especially sexual minorities. This truth is so dominating that it seems to cloud every attempt at building bridges. It is hard for those who have been hurt by other wounded sheep in the flock to forgive and grant grace to the very individuals and institutions from which that same grace is demanded.

Forgiveness is key!

For reconciliation to happen, for bridges to be built, we have to begin forgiving. We have to start at home. With ourselves. With God.

We have to forgive one another so we can hear each other’s hearts. Forgiveness is giving up your right to hurt the other back. As long as you are, in one way, shape, or form, still trying to get revenge for the hurt you’ve endured you will not be able to hear, with genuine openness, the heart of the offender.

Herein lies another challenge: There are some offenses that the body of Christ has committed in the name of Jesus against our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, intersexed, asexual/androgynous (LGBTQIA) brothers and sisters that are so severe and horrendous that it seems impossible to forgive. And rightly so! To that end, I have two thoughts:

  1. This is where The Marin Foundation’s I’m Sorry Campaign comes in handy—conservative Christians need to be asking…no, begging for forgiveness for the atrocities committed against sexual and gender minorities.
  2. Forgiveness is a one-way street, whereas reconciliation takes two. Meaning: Reconciliation requires forgiveness, but forgiveness does not mean reconciliation will occur. (For example, just because you ask me to forgive you does not mean that I will. It is my choice to forgive you of an offense. Once I make that decision, eventually—after I continually remind myself that I’ve made that decision, and I act in ways that demonstrate that I have chosen to forgive you—eventually my feelings of forgiveness will follow. But none of that process involves you. Granted, it may make it easier for me to forgive you if you ask. But in all honesty, you don’t even have to ask—it is all on me.)

Sexual minorities and gender-atypical individuals who have been hurt and wounded by representatives of the church can forgive without making reconciliation. Reconciliation takes building trust, a trust that is often lost and not retrievable after severe trauma. Less severe abuses can be forgiven and over time trust can be rebuilt such that the reconciliation process can begin. But get that: Reconciliation is a process. It is not a given once trespasses are forgiven. Reconciliation takes trust. Bridge-building takes trust.

I am a bridge-builder. I want to educate, enlighten, love, and challenge both sides of the gay-Christian debacle to let their guards down, hear other people’s hearts, start forgiving, and begin building trust so that reconciliation can occur.

God is in the business of relationships. That is what the Bible is all about: God’s relationship with us; our relationship with God; our relationship with each other. Satan, our enemy who prowls around like a roaring lion, is about destruction—destroying relationships. That is what he is all about. And frankly, I’m tired of sitting around letting the enemy destroy any more relationships. I think it’s time that we all start getting over ourselves, and start seeking to hear the “other.” But that’s just my humble opinion.

So, if I seem a little wishy-washy, maybe I am. Maybe I am trying to figure something out for myself. Or maybe, you are being invited to think and be outside of your comfort zone. It’s when we are challenged to get outside of our safety nets that transformation often takes place.

“The Holy Spirit rarely respects one’s comfort zones.” (Anne Lamott in Traveling Mercies)

In Christ’s love and mine…

6 thoughts on “Why I seem “wishy-washy”

  1. As always, you write about difficult topics with such love…your heart for people and for bridge-building really comes through. In this post, I especially appreciate your definitions of forgiveness and reconciliation. For example, I’ve found it very difficult to forgive Megan Phelps, even though she has left Westboro. I just feel her complicity in the atrocities of that organization are huge. But, while I have no willingness to be reconciled, your definition of forgiveness is something I can work toward.

    I’m wondering, though, what your advice or comment would be to those who are victims of direct, physical abuse? I’ve read quite a few where victims of abuse feel forced or made to feel guilty about forgiving their abuser. Perhaps you’ve address it before in another post, or is something you might address in more detail in a future post?

    • Kevin, first off: Thank you so much for your kind words! I cannot tell you how good it is to hear that my heart is being heard. And I’m stoked that you gained insight into the differences between forgiveness and reconciliation such that you can start working on forgiving those who have hurt you and countless others.

      I think that forgiveness is something that is spoken of frequently within circles of faith (especially Christianity) but is rarely ever explained well, or worse explained incorrectly. I think I will indeed write a longer segment on this to post later, but for now, let me just briefly answer your question.

      Physical abuse, sexual abuse, rape, murder, and assault of any kind are the more heinous crimes that are tremendously difficult for mere humans to forgive. But with the help of the Holy Spirit, it can be done. Once again, do not hear that if one forgives that means one trusts or reconciles the relationship. Not by any means, especially in these cases where it could be extremely dangerous to try to build a relationship of any sort with the offender. Forgiveness in these and every other situation where an offense has occurred is necessary for the victim to process. Without forgiveness anger, resentment, bitterness, rage, and hatred grows—basically unforgiveness can ultimately kill you, or at least your soul.

      Not only does unforgiveness toward the offender breed animosity within the victim against that particular individual, that same animosity (or versions of it) tends to spread to anyone and everyone remotely similar to the offender on any given set of characteristics. For instance, if I am offended by an overbearing, egotistical middle-aged White man, then I will most likely be skeptical of most other middle-aged White men, or just egotistical men in general. Obviously, the severity and frequency of offenses determines the extent to which such bias spans, but I think you get the idea.

      Regarding forcing someone to forgive another, or making someone feel guilty for not forgiving: That’s just ignorant—plain and simple. Forgive my harsh words, but it is true. How can anyone force me to forgive someone when forgiveness is my choice, my decision to make. I can say the words, “I forgive you,” but I will never feel it in my heart. And as a matter of fact, I will then be angry at you for “making me” forgive when I wasn’t ready and I’ll ultimately be less willing to forgive you.

      If I feel guilty for not forgiving someone, then that’s all on me. If I feel guilty for not doing what someone asks me to do (i.e., forgive my offender), then my issue isn’t the guilt of not forgiving, but for not doing what I was asked. But again, that guilt is mine and I am choosing to experience that guilt when in reality I know there is no condemnation for those of us in Christ Jesus… but that will get me talking about the difference between guilt and shame. That is a completely different topic for another post! ☺

      I hope this clarification helps a little. I feel like I have a lot more to say, but I’ve already said quite a bit.

      In Christ’s love and mine…

  2. I really love how you make the distinction between forgiveness and reconciliation. That’s such an important point. Forgiveness happens within the person wronged, reconciliation between the two people. I also like how you’ve noted that both are processes. Neither happens in an instant. I think we too often forget that. We want to be forgiven as soon as we ask for it, but that’s the other person’s journey. We also tend expect that we must be able to forgive immediately, but we need to allow ourselves the journey of forgiveness no matter how long it takes. Just because I’m not ready to forgive someone doesn’t mean I’m holding a grudge or developing bitterness. It just means I’m not there yet, and I don’t need to feel bad about that.

    But your penultimate paragraph is by far my favorite. God is all about relationships. I have always believed this. It is Truth with a capital T. And I love how you nail Satan as the destroyer of relationships. That one isn’t something I’ve given much thought to, but it’s absolutely true. Our time here is about relationships, loving God and loving people. I’ve grown so weary of the culture of being right, and based on your assertion about the destroyer of relationships, I have to think this need to be right comes straight from the pit. I’ll be chewing on that one. Thanks for that morsel!

    • Thanks for your comment, H.B. I am glad you appreciated this post and glad it got you thinking. :-) I am a big proponent of the two greatest commandments (even did a three-part sermon series on it years ago). I tend to think that those commands are the crux of all of life. If we get those: Love God with EVERYTHING in us (and in return accept and receive his love and value of us), we will be able to love ourselves well enough to love others the same way we love ourselves. But this kicker that most people miss is the fact that we are commanded to love others “in the same way as” we love ourselves. If we don’t love ourselves properly (i.e., learn how to forgive ourselves for our mistakes, learn how to receive the restorative love of God, treat our bodies, hearts, and minds as Christ would have us) then we cannot love others well. It is only out of knowing how much we are loved and are worthy of that love (not because of anything we’ve done, but because of Who created & redeemed us) that we can fully and rightly love others in a Christ-like fashion. Which ultimately is what bridge-building is all about.

      Thanks again for your input!

      In Christ’s love and mine…

  3. Pingback: An audience of One | iam...

  4. Pingback: Forgiveness: The Key to Bridge Building & Reconciliation

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