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:
- 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.
- 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…