No One Orders Lukewarm Coffee!

The following was recommended by a Pflag member who says it is one of the best essays she has read.  It is from Crumbs from the Communion Table, a blog by Justin Lee, Executive Director of the Gay Christian Network.  See http://gcnjustin.tumblr.com

Because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth. —Revelation 3:16 (AKA Jesus at Starbucks.)

There’s a lot of passion out there in the gay/Christian debate. There are angry protesters with bullhorns and Bible verses on signs. There are political activists on both sides who are driven and determined to get their way. There are friends, family members, and co-workers who won’t stop badgering you to try to change your mind.

And if you’re like a lot of Christians, you’re sick of it. Many Christians I know have tried to avoid the debate as much as possible, keeping quiet about their personal thoughts and leaving it to others to hash this stuff out.

That’s perfectly understandable. But it can backfire in a major way.

For instance, let’s say your private view is that homosexual behavior is a sin against God, and that it could have potentially eternal consequences, but you don’t really talk much about that because you don’t want to cause conflict with the gay people you know and love.

Perfectly understandable. But you run the risk of coming across like Elaine’s boyfriend David Puddy on Seinfeld:

Here’s a partial transcript for those who can’t watch/hear the video:

ELAINE: Do you believe in God?

DAVID: Yes.

ELAINE: Oh! So you’re pretty religious.

DAVID: That’s right.

ELAINE: So is it a problem that I’m not really religious?

DAVID: Not for me.

ELAINE: Why not?

DAVID: I’m not the one going to hell.

[…]

ELAINE: David! I’m going to hell! The worst place in the world! With devils, and those—those caves, and—and the ragged clothing! And the heat, my God, the heat! What do you think about all that?

DAVID: It’s gonna be rough.

ELAINE: You should be trying to save me!

DAVID: Don’t boss me! This is why you’re going to hell.

ELAINE: I am not going to hell. And if you think I’m going to hell, you should care that I’m going to hell. Even though I am not.

That last line sums up a lot of how I feel as a gay Christian. “I am not going to hell. And if you think I’m going to hell, you should care that I’m going to hell. Even though I am not.”

You guys, it’s super annoying to have someone constantly telling you that you’re going to hell, when you don’t believe you are going to hell. But even more disturbing is the idea that someone close to me might actually believe I’m going to hell and yet not care enough for that belief to keep them up at night.

If you think I’m going to hell, you should care that I’m going to hell.

Now please don’t interpret that as a green light to start harassing all the gay people or non-Christians you know with warnings that they’re going to hell. Because if you care that I’m going to hell, then you should also care enough to know that badgering me isn’t going to change things. Instead, you should take the time to get to know me, to understand me. That’s what Paul did in Athens.

But suppose you don’t think I’m going to hell. Maybe you see yourself as much more supportive of gay folks, but you’re hesitant to be too public or passionate about that because, frankly, the issue isn’t quite settled for you and, I mean, it’s not really your issue anyway.

Also perfectly understandable. A lot of my friends are in this position. But in that case, beware of the risk of coming across like this vicar from the British sketch show Not the Nine O’Clock News:

The transcript can’t really do this one justice, so if you’re at all able to watch the video, I recommend it. But in the event you need it, here it is:

VICAR: (awkwardly) Are you a gay Christian? No, no, it’s all right, I mean, I don’t mind, I don’t mind at all. I mean, if uh, if uh, homosexuality is um, is your thing, if that’s the—if that’s the bag you’re into, then that’s great! Fantastic. Um… I mean, don’t be ashamed, whatever you do. I mean, stand up. Come out of the toilet, as the phrase… as the phrase has it. And stand up and say, I am, uh, tempted, to be a, um… a… [whispering] homosexual. And—and, fine, and you may even decide, after much prayer, to enter into a, committed—and, um, tempted—relationship with a member of the same, um, same… genital group. And if you do, and you feel you can do nothing about it, and you’ve been to a psychiatrist, and you’ve had aversion therapy, and you’ve tried tying metal weights to your private parts… and you still feel these tendencies, then… I’m afraid it means that God just wants you to have a rotten life. God’s like that. He hates poofs.

(My American readers will want to mentally replace the word “toilet” with “bathroom,” lest they get a rather humorously skewed idea of the intended image.)

Rowan Atkinson’s performance here is spot on as the affirming-ish Christian leader who is trying to be supportive though clearly uncomfortable with the subject. But in the end, his message is sort of…lukewarm, wouldn’t you say?

The message here isn’t that you need to have everything figured out, or that you need to have a passionately extreme position on the issue. In fact, I much prefer nuanced positions, and I think it’s wonderful when people can admit that they don’t have all the answers.

No, the message here is that when it comes to issues that affect people’s lives, we should care enough not to be content with shrugging our shoulders and saying, “Oh well.”

Because, if I’m hurting, I’d rather that you openly disagreed with me than to not really care.

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