There's so many ways that this post could be misinterpreted that I almost wish I could put a disclaimer after each section. C'est la vie!In short, I'm suggesting that the church's synonymous association of gay with "bad" is more harmful than anything else. Queer sexuality, in particular, needs understanding and not denial. I'm definitely not trying to suggest some sort of post-modern, pop philosophy of embracing yourself, regardless of sin. Instead, I'm trying to say that the church's insistence on associating queer sexuality with sin is blinding us to God's purpose in it. That was certainly my own experience, which I share in the story below and hope to unpack in the coming weeks.
My brother sounded sarcastic. I was barely old enough to be in pre-school and had never heard the word “gay” in my life.
“What’s ‘gay’?” I asked, but a grown-up in the room quickly hushed us, mumbling something about it being “bad.” My curiosity was piqued, but I didn’t press any further. “Gay” meant “bad.” I catalogued the definition in my brain, and for years, that’s all the word ever meant.
“Hey, look at my eyes!” The girl pressed her fingers to the corners of her eyelids and slanted them upwards, then downwards, then upwards again. “Haha!” She started chanting in a sing-song manner, “Ching-chong, ching-chong!”We were at summer camp and eating ice cream at a picnic table. I was barely 12 and joined her happily, as did our friends. When she saw that I joined, she dropped her hands and laughed even louder, slamming the table and saying, “You look so funny!”I didn’t get it. Wasn’t that the point? I thought we all looked funny. But I could tell from her inflection that I was the one who looked particularly funny.
What are we supposed to do?
A friend of mine, Kyle West, posed this question to me in response to a blog post about racism in my community. The answer requires more space than my blog allows. But I can provide some beginning thoughts.
The gospel has the power to heal historical and cultural wounds, and it’s no secret that the American church is doing a poor job of it. Sunday mornings remain the most highly segregated day of the week in the entire country. Despite what the Bible has to say about “neither Jew nor Greek,” Christians continue to segregate themselves by race and class. The result is that the church continues to perpetuate social injustices.
What do I mean by this?