I Am Done With Being a Coward

Photo by Tony Fisher
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License

This is my confession: I am a coward. And part of the reason the Church is in its current sorry state is my cowardice.

Well, not just me. I mean, how arrogant would that be? No, there are many, many “me’s” who knew something was amiss, knew we’d been reading this wrong, knew that Scripture was being used as a weapon to keep people from Jesus instead of as a light to draw people to Him. And we’ve known it for some time. But we said nothing. We did not stand up against those who shouted about “slippery slopes,” who warned that that accepting gays would be lead to endorsing pedophilia. As if those two had any moral equivalence. [Spoiler: they don’t.] We bit our lips when the loudest voices went on and on about the sins of Sodom dooming our church and society, and we offered no correction that, actually, according to Ezekiel (an actual book in the Bible that the loud voices claim to love so much), the sins of Sodom were pride, gluttony, and laziness, while the poor and needy suffered. Yes, the sins of Sodom might very well have a lot to say about our society, but it’s got nothing whatsoever to do with two people who happen to be the same sex giving of themselves,  forsaking all others, and living in companionship.

[Aside: And really but you don’t have to oppose or affirm to gay marriage to see that rape — whether of the angelic strangers or Lot’s own daughters — is a pretty messed up. In fact, a loving marriage — gay or straight — is pretty much the opposite of everything going on in that Sodom story, including whatever the heck is going on inside Lot’s head. Seriously, what the heck, dude? Take my daughters instead? What ???  But I digress.]

All that said, until very recently, the arguments over homosexuality and gay marriage were mostly academic as far as I was concerned. I might debate it over coffee, but then I could go home and forget about it. Even though my thoughts and position on the subject had changed — pretty drastically — over the last decade, I had no personal stake. I’m not gay; my kids aren’t gay; I don’t really have any close friends that are gay. And it wasn’t like gay marriage was legal. There was just no urgency in it for me.

And it was certainly not the kind of thing that was brought up in “polite” (read: church) company. Yes, once in a blue moon, some rabble-rouser might start making everyone feel uncomfortable with pointed questions. But too often our response would be to guide the conversation to a more “safe” place, in a more “constructive” direction.  Somewhere abstract and generic.

We had our reasons. We didn’t want to upset people needlessly, didn’t want to rock the boat. We didn’t want to hurt people we cared about. We didn’t want to cause divisions within the Body. We didn’t want to lose members, lose friends, lose respect.

Didn’t want to lose money in the offering plate.

We were cowards. I was a coward. For that, I am so very sorry. But please know that from this point forward, I am done with being a coward.

Photo by Jim BowenCreative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License
John Wesley at St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, by Jim Bowen
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License

What does that mean exactly? For starters, let me be as blunt as possible, so there can be no misunderstanding as to what I am saying: If you believe that God condemns a person for loving a person of the same sex, then your God is my Devil.

[Aside: John Wesley probably never uttered that sick theological burn “then your God is my devil.” It’s still pretty good though, right?]

Is my wording too harsh? Not constructive? If it is, that is only because we have been too soft for too long. We have let the loudest and harshest voices dictate the conversation, let them hurt and drive away our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. It’s time for that to stop.

I ask your forgiveness.  And I also ask for your indulgence. Because I have a lot more to say.

Part II – “The Bible Clearly Says”

Part III – A Different View


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