Saturday, March 10, 2007

Less Polarizing

The Church of the Future is going to have to reckon with certain issues if it is going to have anything to do with the redemptive work of which it claims it is a part. A big one is what it will do concerning homosexuality. I’m not implying that it needs to decide if it is right or wrong. What I am saying is that the Church of the Future will need to know how to contend with the issue, because it’s not going away anytime soon. If you are a sports fan and listen to talk radio like I do, you probably heard the week-long topic of discussion of John Amaechi and Tim Hardaway. For those out of the loop, Haradway, a former NBA player, made some very strong, hateful comments toward Amaechi, after he announced he was gay. Amaechi wrote a book about his NBA career and what it was like being a homosexual in the sport. Hardaway in these words said, “I hate gay people.” One of the myriad of talking personalities during the week commented on how statements like these only serve to further the cause of the person being attacked. Amaechi comes out looking better and sells more books, while Hardaway creates a stain on his image that probably won’t ever buff out. This is a deeply polarizing issue for the Church As We Know It. But I propose that the Church of the Future not take an “us versus them” stance. Like it or not, the condition is going to be with us for a while. It will only continue to gain mainstream support, and the Church As We Know will either be backed into a corner by it, or it will learn how to be kind, compassionate and gracious, thereby proving its faith is something worth having. In the faith tradition I grew up in, there seemed to be an unwritten rule that to have compassion on someone who disagrees with your morals is to somehow compromise your own personal morality. One guy I knew wouldn’t give any help to street people because he said it wouldn’t do any good, and that it was probably their wrong choices that got them into that situation, so to give them money would just reinforce those poor decisions. He could use the Bible to reinforce his position, too.


Strider said...

Trouble is Gay people are not very gay. They have a lot of problems and they have learned that religious people do not want to help.
I was a chaplain in a hospital for a three month intern program. I got the 'Aid's floor'. This was back in '89 and most churches had not come to grips with the whole gay and aids thing. It will stand against us in eternity that people suffered and we didn't care. I sat and listened to them. I prayed with them. And I can tell you but I can't tell SOME people that I never bothered to condemn them. Really I thought they felt condemned enough. For some, they had been hurt pretty badly by young preacher boys like me and the anger and resentment flooded off of them as I entered the room. For most of them however, they were so grateful to talk to someone who would listen and not condemn.
That was 1989. Tell me we have not learned anything since then? To put it simply I want to be like Jesus. You show me in the word exactly which sinners Jesus condemned and I will condemn them to. But I don't see him doing that much. He seemed to have this weird idea that loving people in a nonjudgemental way would go farther toward changing people than condemning them. Too bad that doesn't work anymore huh?

chiefprig said...

i like what you have to say. i think some of the lack of compassion comes from people who think that their compassion will somehow mitigate the judgement and punishment "those people"(with the proper inflection, the words cut deep) must deserve. As if it were our place to mete out God's judgements, and make sure some weasely do-gooders don't alleviate their burden any.

i have someone close to me who bristled at the prospect of making a donation to AIDS research in memory of one who fell to it. The general feeling i got was that of "it's "their" disease, it's "their" judgement for being the way "they" are and finding a cure will just validate their lifestyle." And it's troubling and heartbreaking. Especially considering how far AIDS' reach is now, and espeially in the African continent.

Making sure that sinners got theirs and denying people aid seems contrary to Jesus' ministry to me. We seem so caught up in always being right that we lose sight of the fact that we were called to be merciful, and not little probation officers.