A parable: Once upon a time, Courtney wore a vintage Aerosmith t-shirt to work. James, the man whose desk faced hers, was offended beyond words. He hated Aerosmith. He always had. He always would. Steven Tyler’s lips freaked him out. James berated Courtney for her horrible taste in music and insulted her choice of clothes. Courtney called James an idiot and screamed that she had the right to wear whatever shirt she wanted. James threw a stapler. Courtney threatned legal action. Courtney and James fought for hours about a silly t-shirt… without ever realizing they were both wearing the same shoes.
The point? LGBT Christians and “straight” Christians may be so busy fighting over whether it’s ok to be gay that we’ve forgotten everything we have in common.
Thanksgiving, that glorious day when we indulge in both cranberries and conflict around the family table, is only a few days away. If you think your holiday might involve a tense conversations with Christian family and friends, maybe the following will help…
Richard Beck, Professor or Psychology at Abilene Christian University, has some very interesting concerns about how Gay folks and Christian folks talk with each other. He claims we’re creating arguments where one side wins, one side loses, and both sides forget we’re all on the same team. He says:
[My] first frustration is that it’s tacitly assumed that the only issue at stake in these conversations is the biblical status of same-sex relations. From a biblical perspective, are same-sex relations permissible? No doubt that is the central question, but it’s often assumed that this is the only question. That is, once this question is settled, one way or the other, the two groups have nothing much else to say to each other. Usually because they can’t agree on this question.
Which leads to my second frustration: the zero-sum nature of the conversation. Since it’s often assumed that the biblical status of same-sex relations is the only issue at stake, a “winner takes all” atmosphere is created. Either the traditional Christian side will win (in prohibiting same-sex relations) or the gay side will win (in affirming same-sex relations). This creates a zero-sum “I win. You lose.” dynamic that isn’t very kind or healthy.
Interesting, right? What if, instead of focusing only on whether God thinks it’s ok to be gay (which sets up a win/lose dynamic), we start thinking about all things both straight and gay Christians already agree about?
It’s a great post. Seriously. Read it before you carve your turkey (and family) on Thursday.