Shuck and Jive

Opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the congregation I joyfully serve. But my congregation loves me!

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Getting It

Because so much time is spent in arguments with people who don't get it, it often seems we are spinning our wheels. We think that people are frozen with their views. Because of that, we think the church or society is polarized and it is a matter of winning or losing.

The reality is that people eventually do get it. That is what gives me great hope. I believe in two things:
  • I believe that most people who have negative views regarding lgbt people are not hateful.
  • I also believe that people who have negative views will not always have those views.
There are exceptions. Some folks have been so damaged and/or so conditioned by faulty views that they may not live long enough to have their consciousnesses raised. But I don't think most people are like that and that given time and opportunity most people will get it. This is not merely an abstract belief, I have seen it happen again and again. It has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my ministry.

The website Family Acceptance is a wonderful example of a family who got it. It is the story of a church going family in the South who had to come to terms with their son who came out. It wasn't easy. They had to wrestle with the views they had learned from their religion. (This is why it would be so much easier to love as Christ loves if our religious denominations weren't so wrong about this. But, life is rarely easy).

Religious language against gays is the reason so much of my career (I never thought it would be so going in) is devoted to helping religious people and my religious denomination get it. When I focus on the larger picture, I don't worry too much about one cycle of voting. I will work hard to remove obstacles and to keep out harmful and faulty language about our lgbt sisters and brothers from becoming official policy, but it is an on-going process.

What does it mean to "get it?"

Getting it is making the connection between religious language (whether that language is vulgar or sophisticated) and the lives of real lgbtq people. Discrimination, violence, etc. is connected to what is heard from the pulpit which in turn comes from theological statements from authoritative people and documents (such as church policies).

I have also discovered that more than any single factor by far, religious views about gays have been the source of the most pain in families and in society. If you haven't worked with folks who have experienced rejection from families and their churches for religious reasons because they are gay, you likely won't get it.

I have also discovered that it is difficult if not impossible to argue people into getting it. Folks do or they don't. Getting it is like a conversion experience. For some getting it is like Saul struck down on the Damascus Road by the presence of Christ who says, "Why are you persecuting me?" Here is a guy who got it.

But I have discovered that it is helpful to seize upon opportunities for conversion when they arise. These opportunities include:
  1. A family member or friend coming out...
  2. A denomination being asked to vote on a change in policy...
  3. A tragic situation (such as the Knoxville shooting) that requires reflection and action.
These opportunities and others are crises that can raise our level of consciousness and enable us to get a glimpse of one another as Christ sees us. They are opportunities that if engaged can help folks get it. And getting it is a good, good thing.