Archive for June, 2009

My post today is part of a larger initiative of more than 70 bloggers all sharing their thoughts on how to ‘bridge the gap’ between Christians and gay people. You can check out the other links at www.btgproject.blogspot.com

tay_rail_bridge_470x353A good friend of mine visited me yesterday. She was in town for a few days, and it was great to have the chance to just hang out together. She’s one of those seriously fun people who loves to laugh. We share the same dry, off-the-wall sense of humour. Needless to say, we did quite a bit of laughing! I’m still smiling at the thought of it.

My friend committed her life to Christ as an adult, much like I did. Though our backgrounds are different in many ways, we do have one important thing in common: We both came to know Jesus through our desperation, tired of hungering for love and being hurt and disappointed again and again. I suppose you could say we were looking for love in all the wrong places. She looked for love in the arms of men. I looked for it in the arms of women. We both found it in the arms of Jesus.

There’s no denying that bridging the gap between Christians and gay people is challenging. On the one hand, there are Christians who are so threatened by the idea of reaching out to gays that they won’t even consider it. On the other, some gay people make it their mission in life to be as “in your face” as possible about their sexuality, particularly around people who consider homosexuality sinful. I think both of these postures are born out of fear, hurt and misunderstanding. It’s heartening to know that there are people in between the two extremes.

One of the songs my friend and I sang together yesterday was “Love can build a bridge”. It was recorded back in the 1980’s by the Judds, a mother/daughter country duo. Some of you may get to this point in my post and think, “is this the best response you can come up with to the question at hand?” Well, yes and no. Here are the words to the chorus of “Love can build a bridge”, in case you’re not a country music fan:

Love can build a bridge,
between your heart and mine.
Love can build a bridge,
don’t you think it’s time,
don’t you think it’s time.

It is the best answer I can come up with, in the sense that it’s the only answer to our lost condition, whether we identify ourselves as gay, straight, or somewhere in between. It’s the same answer given in the beautiful simplicity of John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.” If you’re a Christian and you don’t include gay people in the “whosoever” category, then I would gently suggest that you are underestimating God’s grace. If you’re gay and you’ve written off Christianity because you’ve been hurt by people in the church, I hope you won’t write Jesus off. God doesn’t affirm any of us on the basis of our behaviour, because we’re all sinners. He affirms us based on the “whosoever will believe in Him” part of John 3:16. In the same way, none of us can measure up to God’s standard of holiness. We all fall short in many ways. The grace that saves us is the same grace that enables us to grow in purity and obedience once we have accepted His gift of salvation.

You’ll notice that I haven’t addressed the issue of whether or not homosexual behaviour is sinful, and that’s deliberate. It’s not because I don’t have an opinion. I haven’t addressed it because I think if we truly want to bridge the gap between Christians and gay people, or indeed with anyone who doesn’t share our beliefs, we need to keep the horse before the cart.

If you’re a Christian trying to reach out to a gay person, and the first thing you say after “God loves you”, is “homosexuality is an abomination in His eyes”, then your cart has already toppled into the ditch. I believe when we take this approach, making sure our theological position is stated at the outset, we aren’t really motivated by love – we’re motivated by fear. The reality is, most gay people already know what the Bible says about homosexuality. If you feel compelled to tell them, consider how lovingly Jesus dealt with the woman caught in adultery in John 8. And remember that it’s His kindness that leads us to repentance – all of us.

When I left my gay identity behind, it wasn’t because well-meaning Christians persuaded me to. It happened because the Holy Spirit wooed me, gently changing how I saw myself and others. I found the love I had been longing for in Jesus. In the process, I discovered (and am discovering) my true self. I’m very glad to say that His love has been expressed to me over the years through Christians. They offered the same grace and patience we all need, and trusted God to change me. Their love bridged the gap in my life.

So, when you think about it, God has already built a bridge. Don’t you think it’s time for us to walk across it by loving all people the way Jesus does?


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83350I love the fact that Jesus wasn’t afraid to identify Himself with us. It’s the reason He came, of course – to identify so completely with us that He actually took the guilt of our sin upon Himself on the cross. He went way beyond what any of us would do for another person, even someone we really love. But think about His day-to-day existence 2000 years ago. He was all about identifying Himself with broken, lost, sinful ‘outcasts’. The Pharisees thought they were hurling insults when they accused Jesus of being “a friend of sinners”. Man, those words are sweet music to my ears!! Jesus, my friend! I worry sometimes that we, as the church, have forgotten who we were, or who we are, without Jesus. You know, when we talk about someone in that gossipy, condescending tone, a sort of thinly disguised self-righteousness that we convince ourselves is okay as long as we say, “we need to pray for them”. Them? We are them. Or at least, without Him, we are them.

We all say we want to be more like Jesus. We sing the words, “Lord, I wanna be more like you… I want to be a vessel You flow through…” That’s great. I sing those words and I sincerely mean them. But when push comes to shove, do we really want to be more like Him? To what extent? Are we prepared to be spit upon and beaten, humiliated, betrayed, deserted, mocked, shamed, unjustly accused and executed? Maybe in some parts of the world, but I doubt very many of us here would put up with that for anybody’s sake, let alone Christ’s.

Think about some of the people He came in contact with during His earthly ministry. The raving, demon possessed man in Luke 8. When Jesus was confronted by him as He stepped ashore, did He get back into His boat and row away? Of course not. He was very hands on when He healed people. He wasn’t afraid he was going to “catch” something, or afraid of being gossiped about for touching sinners. He didn’t see us as “them”. He abased Himself, coming down to our level in order to lift us up to His.

If we love Jesus, I mean really love Him, we can show it by identifying with Him. He identified with our sin and shame. We have a responsibility to identify with every sinful expression of humanity that we encounter. I don’t mean we should get involved in the sin, but we need to actively embrace “sinners” because we understand that God’s grace is the only thing that can lift us out of our shared pit of broken humanity. All it takes is His love, a gift He has given us to share. We can show our gratitude by identifying with Him – Jesus, our friend, a friend of sinners.

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