Hi, my name’s Mark, and I’m an Evangelical. (all: “Hi Mark”). Worse, I’m a pastor. Many from my tribe won’t understand why that can often be considered a bad thing.
I’m writing to make an apology. I can’t do anything about the way my brothers and sisters are failing to reach out to you, interacting in ways that are patently unBiblical, and ultimately causing great harm.
But I can say I’m sorry.
Before I make my (our) apology, let me give some background (and a bit of a rant) that condemns – on very firm Biblical grounds – the way so many Evangelicals interact with Homosexuals.
Jesus said “Do not give dogs what is sacred, and do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” Sometimes Jesus used sarcasm when addressing religious people, especially people who believed they were God’s favorite. This is one of those times.
The “holy” people in his audience were more likely to be addressed by Jesus as dogs than the “dogs” he refers to here. He’s being sarcastic about how his audience views people who don’t have their religious shit together. Dogs. Pigs. People of no significant import. That’s not how they should be considered.
Take a look at His followers/best friends – all people who were considered to be worthless in the eyes of the holy folk.
He’s being sarcastic about “pearls” as well. In Jesus’ day, as in ours, religious people had traditions, observances, trinkets, behaviors, etc. that were considered to be clean, shiny, holy. Sacred. These people from time ad nauseum have been tempted to hoist their precious beliefs, however true or untrue they might be, upon others who aren’t interested in them. Their victims, hungry for love and acceptance, usually get angry and “bite back” as Jesus warned they would.
Telling Gay people to stop being Gay, then mistreating them on some level when they don’t respond, is a textbook example of ignoring Jesus’ very sarcastic warning here. We’re not to force our beliefs, traditions, etc (“pearls”) on people who aren’t interested in them (“pigs” as so many Evangelicals treat them today). If we do, we’ll get our asses kicked, sort of like we are today.
Because “pearls before pigs” is such a popular activity, people who aren’t Evangelical usually don’t get warm feelings in their tummies when they hear the word “Evangelical,” much less “Pastor.” Its also the predominant reason why the Evangelical church is so quickly losing it’s voice in our world. We’ve lovingly embraced an activity that Jesus not only condemned, but presented to His audience as a really stupid thing to do (what idiot would feed “Pearls” to “Pigs?”), and something that would ultimately not have a happy ending.
If this makes you grumpy, please don’t post any “You don’t know your Bible” comments below. I spent 4 years in post graduate studies at one of the most conservative Evangelical seminaries in the country (go DTS!). Much of that time was spent learning ancient Greek and Hebrew. I’ve spent inordinate amounts of time studying the Bible, sitting through lectures, sermons, reading countless books, commentaries, etc.
I will say however that the interpretations here are not my own, They’re from the great (Evangelical) Dallas Willard in his book “Divine Conspiracy.” His thoughts on this changed my life.
I know the passages in scripture that you’re thinking about. I’ve pored over them too. None of these give you license or freedom to judge, condemn, ostracize, belittle, or otherwise cast shame upon the Gay community. None. Shame on anyone who uses the very word of God to make people feel horrible, and to be agents of dissension in our “Christian,” “United” States.
Remember that the people who resisted Jesus were religious. They believed that their way of life made them better than others. They looked down on the “sinners” and wouldn’t be seen with them. It’s easy to be on the wrong side when your focus on God has been supplanted by a focus on Good Behavior. That’s not what Jesus was about.
Sorry, I’ve digressed. I’m really angry. My apology to the Gay community is this: I’m sorry that so many of us have decided to disregard the Bible’s very clear commandments to love you, serve you, accept you, walk alongside you, and be your friend. I’m sorry for the way that so many of us look down our noses at you. I’m sorry for the war that is ramping up against you. You want love – we’ve responded with stones.
These activities, when compared to Jesus’ commandments in our Bible, are completely ridiculous. We, like someone trying to feed jewelry to an animal, have lost our minds. Why would you listen to us? I’m truly sorry for all the ways that you’ve been hurt by this.
God loves you more than you could possibly understand. As you are, right now. Have compassion and mercy on those who have burdened themselves with darkness, seeking to change you instead of extending the love that God has cast before them.
If you’re reading this and you’re an Evangelical who judges Gay people, sees them as a threat, holds them at arms length, can’t see past their lifestyle, etc. – welcome brother or sister. I understand where you’re coming from, and I’m praying for you. But there is so much more to the Christian life than picking out 1 thing and going to war against it.
This happened in Jesus’ day too. But the people who were considered to be horrible sinners were befriended by Jesus, then unleashed into the world to forever change the face of religion. Based on this, If He were to return, I’m convinced that there would be hoards of Gay people in his entourage, followed by the “Holy” people condemning the immorality of His followers, just as it was when He came the first time.
For now, you might want to get used to Gay people. God loves them just as much as He loves you. Make friends with a few – it will help you to not be so disgusted, to see more clearly their humanity, and ultimately get more comfortable with your own.
Either way, get ready, The Bible suggests strongly that heaven will be crawling with them, so much so that the other place might look more like heaven to you than heaven itself.