Today, my fiancée and I left a church service early, in tears, in embarrassment, and in deep sadness.
The sermon was entitled, “Isn’t the Bible Socially and Morally Antiquated?,” and the pastor made it clear that, No, the Bible is not antiquated. It is not outdated or fangled, but rather, relevant to current cultural issues such as sexuality and homosexuality. After pointing out the sin in such a lifestyle (while including an ambiguous supportive statement to Kim Davis), my fiancée and I quietly left when the congregation stood to take communion.
Ironically, the passage he used was Luke 11: 37-54, where Jesus pronounced “woes” on religious leaders who carefully observed every holy requirement outwardly, but inwardly, whose hearts were cold, full of greed and wickedness.
But I am not crafting this letter as a theological statement. I do not consider myself a Bible scholar, nor do I claim to know what every church believes. But I do claim to be a Christian, affected and forever changed by God’s grace.
This is a personal account; if you are reading with the attitude to prove me wrong, we may not get very far. If you are reading this with an open heart, recognizing and honoring my humanity, in all its vulnerabilities, wonders and flaws, I in turn, will respect your views.
The gay community is told of their sin often enough. Personally, my family and close friends have questioned me about my life. I have been advised to seek celibacy. Someone who used to be a mentor said I could no longer be a Christian. I have had side-glances made on the street when I hold my fiancée’s hand, and have had to politely steer away questions from men asking if we were “exclusive.” I have had enough debasing from individuals, and until today, had never experienced it stemming from a pulpit.
I suppose I write this today with one hope:
Church, love me.
Love without the jargon-heavy tagline, “in spite of your sin.” Please stop saying, “I love you even though…,” or, “I love you, just not the sin,” or “I love you, but I don’t agree with you.”
I do not strive for agreement. I would never demand every church to affirm my lifestyle. I am not offended that some within would not support my impending marriage, and I am not offended that your leaders will not perform the ceremony. Frankly, I wouldn’t want them to.
But I ask that the Church in general stop placing conditionals on their statements of love. Love deeply, love without limits, love without parameters.
I am tired of limelight, and exhausted from contingencies. I’m tired of being your focus, and subject to all your conditions.
I realize this does not apply to all Christians, and if you as a reader feel I have generalized, I apologize. When my fiancée and I left the service today, a friend quickly left behind us to give us both hugs in the parking lot. She had sorrow and compassion in her eyes. Later that day, I received text messages apologizing for what we experienced.
These are examples of love without conditions. Church, please follow suit, and then perhaps we can start mending bridges. Perhaps we can love like a community.
And maybe, we can show the world Christ-like love, a love without restraint.