If you're just coming to Part 3 of this blog, I'd encourage you to read Part 1 and Part 2 for context, as this final post is the conclusion to one long process piece / book review on Preston Sprinkle's People To Be Loved: Why Homosexuality Is Not Just An Issue.
This morning I woke up to a tweet from someone who has been following the first two sections of this blog, here and here. The tweet asked, "@levithepoet are you homophobic? This has been bothering me - I've read your posts about it, but I'm still not sure on your stance." My answer, most emphatically, is: no, I am not. Of course, I don't know the position of the asker - we may hold to different beliefs and convictions. Once again, if love and acceptance - and dare I say "respect" - is predicated upon agreement only, then I don't know how any of us can ever love anyone. That challenge came first in Part 2 of this post for non-affirming Christians and the ways we interact with our affirming brothers and sisters, as well as those who are not followers of Jesus and don't hold the Bible as authoritative. But the same must be true both ways - "non-affirming" cannot be the equivalent of "homophobic" because "disagreement" is not the equivalent of "hatred". Not inherently, anyway. As for the times that our disagreements, as a people, have translated and/or escalated into such, we stand without excuse or justification, and I hope that these thoughts that can be more than hypotheticals in a conversation surrounding the hope for and possibility of living and loving outside of that abhorrent stereotype.
There's a band in the scene right now called Silent Planet with a shirt that says "Heal Us Of Our: Homophobia / Addiction / Religion / Sexism / Racism / War". Amen to that. I like that shirt. In People To Be Loved, Preston writes:
We need to put homophobia to death. Stab it. Kill it. And bury it in a grave. If it tries to resurrect, step on its head. Affirming Christians can’t be the only ones concerned about homophobia in the church. Nonaffirming Christians should be just as relentless—if not more—in confronting the unchristian posture toward gay people that runs rampant in the church.
Evangelical leaders need to stand for truth. And putting homophobia to death is part of standing for truth. Jesus is truth, and Jesus is not adultererphobic, taxcollectorphobic, centurionphobic; and he is certainly not homophobic. Jesus does not have a prejudice against any human being. But if he did, it would be against judgmental, homophobic religious people.
We need to destroy homophobia. If someone tells a gay joke, kill it. Blurt out that line that will make everyone feel awkward, “That’s actually not very funny. Do you worship Jesus with that mouth?” If people want to talk about some issue about “those people over there”—stop it. Don’t let them. Stand up and be bold. Destroy homophobia. Don’t squirm in your silent agreement. Take a stand for truth. Take a stand for people. Kill homophobia.
Some people will think you are “pro-gay” if you stand up for gay people, and that’s fine. If people mistake your unconditional love for gay people as an affirmation of homosexual behavior, then don’t worry about it. You’re in good company. Religious people often thought that Jesus was a sinner because he had many friends who were sinners, yet he kept on befriending sinners. Don’t let religious pressure from your friends or family force you to cowardly embrace the pharisaic ethic of homophobia. Don’t buy the lie that if you love people too much, you must not care about sin. The gospel teaches us otherwise. Jesus cared so much about sin that he surrounded himself with sinners. Let us go and do likewise.
I've worshipped Jesus with a filthy mouth. I'm sorry for that. I don't know who is going to read this, but I'm sorry. I know that, probably, my primary audience is a music scene filled with artists who consider themselves spokespeople and artists who consider themselves nothing of the sort. I don't know what I am, sometimes. I've always just tried to be faithful to Jesus and write or speak about things that I care about, or things that I think he cares about. I really do try to care about people, I do. And I know Jesus does.
I don't think that I have to write this. And I don't know if I'll choose to, again. But I want to, today. Because I want to help people. Because I want to help people help people.
Because I want to be a pursuer with opens hands extended the same way open hands were extended to me. Because mercy exists in those hands. Because Jesus didn't wait for me to hop on board before he opened his up to show me.
Because people are not projects.
Because the Kingdom of Jesus isn't primarily legislative.
Because you have legitimate questions. Because my friends' daughter has legitimate questions. Because the church has legitimate questions, too.
Because I love Jesus and long for him and long for others - homosexual, bisexual, pansexual, heterosexual, you name it - to know and see and experience his love and his holiness and grace and power and I don't think that happens by holding people at an arms length away from Him until they comply to the same law that crushes everyone without the enabling grace of God to enjoy it.
Because I hope that a more respectful and logical conversation is possible than the one that sounds more like clamoring to be right about an issue than what to do with our rightness as ambassadors of Christ in this world, and I don't think that that conversation automatically equals compromise, or the sacrifice of biblical faithfulness.
Because I still believe in the local church, and participating in this world with her, and edifying and uplifting and honoring her and her bridegroom, and it is my deep desire to see her honorable in and before this gift of a world that we have been privileged to live and participate in, as well, and I pray that we would be a bride who wears compassion on our chests and love on our lips when discussing - in agreement or disagreement with one another - people to be loved.
I hope Preston's book is a step in that direction for all of us. It is for me. Buy it here.