Why I refuse to tolerate Gays

I was in Portland on Friday. I had a date with The Redhead’s daughter. She finished her first year of college, so we had some celebrating to do.  A bit of shopping. I tried but could not coax her into one of those new (actually old) Maxi dresses.

Too hippie, she said, choosing a pair of athletic shorts instead.

We tried on some shoes at Nordstroms.

Me the Borns.

Her, sneakers.

For lunch we headed to the Noodle place downtown, around the corner from Powell’s. I had the Pad Thai. She had the Caesar salad and the What-do-you-mean-I-have-to-choose-the-noodles dish.

Just noodles.

Okay. Then. The Japanese noodles.

It was all delish.

What’s a trip to Portland without a stop at Powell’s? She had not yet read Water for Elephants, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, or The Help. She will this summer. We got all three books, and learned that none of my books were stocked by  Powell’s . Way-to-go, way-to-deflate a girl’s mojo, buddy. It’s not like I don’t live in Oregon, ya know? What’s up with that?

Oh. Well. Move along.

We crossed the street, headed for yet another store in search of a nice photo frame.

“Hello,” says the cutie-pie fella standing on the corner with some friends, a clipboard in hand.

“Hey,” I reply.

“Would you like to sign our petition in support of Gay Rights?” he asks.

“Not today,” I say, simply for no other reason than I am about other things at this moment. Sometimes I don’t want to be political. Sometimes I just want to be in the moment, enjoying an afternoon with a much-cherished friend.

His brow furrows. He scowls, literally scowls and says something curt, rude, dismissive.  I can see it etched right there in his face: Disdain.

I imagine he’s thinking I’m one of THOSE people. The kind of people who disdain his sort.

But I’m not.

I know this issue inside and out. I could stop and tell him, Hey, buddy, don’t do that. Don’t peg me like that. You don’t know me. You don’t know what I think, what I believe, what I support or what I don’t. Just because I didn’t sign your petition on this day on this corner doesn’t mean I’m one of THOSE people.

He doesn’t have a clue that not only did Powell’s not stock Where’s Your Jesus Now? but that the Christian bookstores wouldn’t carry it either. They didn’t like my saying that the church has badly mishandled this homosexuality issue. So they refused to stock my book. They treated me as if I was one of THOSE OTHER people.

My friend died of HIV. He was 25 when he found out he had it. That year our family fasted and prayed for him. On Thanksgiving Day. The kids were young yet. Not used to going without a special holiday meal but they did it willingly. We didn’t pray for his salvation. He was saved already. We prayed for his health. And for his spirit.

I could have told you when he was 8-years-old he was Gay. I knew it then. I suspect he did, too. He loved Jesus. I never questioned that. Nor did I question Jesus’s love for him.

The best book I ever read about this issue was Jerry and Stephen Arterburn’s How will I tell my mother? After I read it, I picked up the phone and called their mother. Told her what a great job she did, raising up those boys.

Here’s what I wish — I wish the Church would quit harassing Gays.  Pick on somebody else for a change. Or quit picking on people at all, since when is that our job as Believers anyway?

As Andy the Editor once said to me: Good of all those Gays to make their sins so obvious, ain’t it? He was being snarky, poking fun at the Church for its hypocrisy. That’s easy enough to do.

But here’s the other thing I wish — I wish Gays would quit hating on Christians.

Just because I follow Christ does not mean I adhere to some anti-gay agenda. I don’t. I resent it when people who are gay look at me the way that guy on the corner did on Friday. Or when because I call somebody out for their exploitation of others, I get the kind of push-back I received last week on that Lady Gaga post.

Why does saying Lady Gaga’s a fake equate to hating on the gays? (Wonder does it occur to anyone in the Gay community that Lady Gaga is just exploiting the gay agenda to advance her own profile & profits????)

For the record I’m not for tolerance when it comes to this issue. Tolerating somebody implies that underneath it all you can’t stand them or their ways. That isn’t the example Jesus set for us, and it isn’t going to help anybody get along.

I don’t want to live in a world where the Church tolerates Gays and Gays tolerate the Church, because that’s just evidence that both sides are practicing hypocrisy.

Don’t cuss at me because I  don’t like Lady Gaga and don’t speak rudely to me because I didn’t sign your petition. I wouldn’t have stopped to sign a petition if Don Miller was personally begging me to.

I was busy with other more important matters.

I was busy being a friend to somebody.

Instead of everybody screaming and scowling and bullying people into your point of view, y’all might instead try having a meal together sometime. I recommend the Pad Thai at the Noodle Place.

Talk to somebody who thinks differently than you do.

Practice the art of listening.

Quit calling each other names and pointing fingers all the time.

Mama always said if you want to have a friend you have to start by being one.

Seems like good wisdom to me, don’ t it to you?

About Karen Spears Zacharias

Author. Speaker. Journalism Instructor. Four kids. Three dogs. One grandson.

  • http://www.timthurmansblog.blogspot.com Tim Thurman

    My best friend is gay…He struggles so hard to be a Christian…We Christians tend to not treat gay people as people…But the gay guy labeled you too…Let’s all just stop throwing rocks…Great post….

  • http://middletree.blogspot.com James Williams

    I agree with you that Christians have mishandled the gay issue and showed less love toward them than they should. I’d say that the response by many who take the opposite view has been also mishandled.

    I disagree with your view here, which is widely held these days, that Christians who believe same-sex sex to be sin are, just by not compromising in that belief, somehow “harrassing” gays. It is possible, though not all do it well, to show love toward those who practice this sin while not backing down from what is true.

    • http://windowsandpaperwalls.wordpress.com/ Cathy

      I think the issue gays (and many of us) have is, you don’t hear people in the church going around saying:

      “…at Christians who believe gossiping to be sin are, just by not compromising in that belief, somehow “harassing” gossipers. It is possible, though not all do it well, to show love toward those who practice gossiping while not backing down from what is true.”

      OR: “…at Christians who believe lying to be sin are, just by not compromising in that belief, somehow “harassing” liars. It is possible, though not all do it well, to show love toward those who practice lying while not backing down from what is true.”

      Or “prideful people.” Or “troublemakers.” (Remember, the Bible says that God actually HATES those last few behaviors.)

      There is no other behavior about which “the church” digs in its heels so, and trumpets its stances on.

      Here’s my wish: Can we PLEASE just not turn this one issue into the sword that the conversation about Christ has to die upon?

      Who told us to do that?

      • http://middletree.blogspot.com James Williams

        I have heard this before, and it i certainly true, at least party. However, there is no organized effort to make sure that we all know that pride, gossip, etc. are acceptable, as there are organizations which advocate for homosexuality to be considered as non-sinful behavior. The reaction you hear from the church is just that: a reaction.

        • http://windowsandpaperwalls.wordpress.com/ Cathy

          I don’t agree about the “reaction” part, because this statement is true: the church started it. Go back 50, 100, 200, 500 years.

          The church started it.

          Respect your POV, though, and appreciate your willingness to discuss! :-)

    • Jonathon Edwards

      No. Sorry. That’s actually not possible. It’s delusional. Holding onto antiquated ideas about homosexual behavior being inherently sinful is as delusional as holding onto the idea that the earth is flat or the center of the universe. It’s not the truth. When you hold onto it, somewhere deep inside, even if you can’t put your finger on it or identify where it’s coming from, is homophobia. As long as you think your gay “friends’” love for one another is a sin, you are no friend to them no matter how often you make that claim.

      • http://middletree.blogspot.com James Williams

        That’s not delusion: it’s a matter of theological differences. You cannot prove that same-sex sexual relations are not sin, just as I cannot prove that they are. When you tout the unprovable as absolute truth, and accuse those who don’t share your views as phobic, you lose credibility.

        • GorgiasGeorge

          Actually, I wouldn’t consider this to be an accurate representation of the argument here.

          “Delusional” is admittedly a stronger and more deliberately provocative word than I might have applied in the circumstances, but the basic case that JE is making here is that the belief that homosexuality (a pretty broad term in its use here, but more on that in a second) = sin is a dogmatic one akin to the belief that the earth is the center of the universe, and subject to the same kind of rightful scrutiny.

          You make the case that it’s a theological difference, and I’d be willing to entertain that if it weren’t for the fact that there are demonstrable contradictions between the literal biblical accounts as they have been read in the past and observable reality.

          These are most obvious with things like the young earth creationist accounts of human origins, but they should extend just as easily to the readings of verses like Romans 1:16-32, which Raymond has cited further down in the comments.

          Asking us to consider homosexuality = sin as an equally likely prospect to the contrary means asking us to accept a number of other propositions as well. When you ask us to draw an equivalency between “homosexuality” as depicted in those verses and “homosexuality” as practiced today, that’s a testable claim. Even if we’re strictly talking theology, it’s still one that could use some further bible citations.

          I think insisting that there is an equivalency here is an untenable position, and I think the suggestion that disagreeing with it diminishes ones credibility is an indefensible one. What’s worse than that is when you make the case that your right to refuse compromise or discussion on the issue is based on a theological point of principle you risk the rest of us throwing out the validity of your faith altogether. Do you really want that?

  • http://katdish.net katdish

    I’m so with you on this. I’m hesitant to identify myself with any political affiliation because of reactions like you got from the guy with the clipboard. People really don’t want to sit down and have a conversation with those who challenge their assumptions. Name calling is much easier.

  • http://www.susiefinkbeiner.wordpress.com Susie Finkbeiner

    Wow! This was powerful. Thank you so much for the obvious love in which you wrote this.

  • http://www.thestubbornservant.com Nicole

    love this post Karen. I’m so glad I’ve found your writing as you speak many things I’m feeling. :)

  • http://www.tonysimmons.info Tony

    Great post Karen.

  • http://www.randikayanthony.blogspot.com Randi-Kay Anthony

    Wonderful post.

  • JanetLee

    The last sentence in Mr. Williams’ comment above tells you everything you need to know about why gays, non-theists, and others who do not toe the Christian line get so defense.

    Here is the thing that many Christians refuse to consider: Many of us don’t consider homosexuality a sin! We know you do, thank you very much for your input into complete stranger’s lives, but you may move along now.

    • http://www.alise-write.com Alise

      Exactly.

      I also find it amusing (as a straight ally – probably less amusing to my gay brothers and sisters) that there’s some kind of automatic divide between Christian and gay. Trust me, your church has gay people in it. And they’re Christians, just like you.

      Great post. No more tolerance!

    • Karen

      A “Christian” is a “Christ-follower” by definition, though I know that many people have turned that definition into “a basic belief in God”. He hates all sin, and homosexuality is included in lists of sins that God hates. So, it isn’t about Christians saying what’s sin and what’s not sin, it’s God. He is the author of all morality. He can free anyone who is wanting freedom from any sin and yet loves us where we are…always wanting better for all of us because we all sin! Christians are called to love people, no matter who they are or what they do in order to show them who Christ really is, but speaking the truth in love is critical; otherwise how are people to learn godly morals? My main concern is that people come to know who Christ is and accept his gift of eternal life–it is then up to Him to convict as the sinner (no matter what they’re sinning in) learns His truths and applies them.

      • http://koinepdx1.blogspot.com AF Roger

        Karen: Just a little troubled here. In fact, more than a little. I just wrote what I believed to be a calm, grace-filled, reasoned and thoughtful reply. Specifically, I wanted to bring to definition to your use of “Church” with upper case “C” vs. lower case as well as comment on your own terminology “lists of sins God hates.” Site rejected my comments as being too spammy.

        Hmmmm… What does the name of this blog service (patheos) mean? I’d always thought it was a contraction of the Greek words pater and theos, Father God. Maybe not. Perhaps I should type in the words of John the Baptist or some of Jesus’ own parables to see how the cyber censor deals with those. And I wonder what else I’m not hearing here. Brave new world. Or not.

        • Karen Spears Zacharias

          Weird. Given all the nasty email I rec’d last week from complete strangers. I’ve changed no settings. Have no idea why they rejected your comments, Roger. I am sorry.

          • http://koinepdx1.blogspot.com AF Roger

            Many years ago, Roger Miller sang “First time for ev’rything, mmmmm, my ears still ring.”

            I guess the spamware thinks I’m Fred Phelps. And just when I was starting to feel a little better about things… Ha!

    • http://middletree.blogspot.com James Williams

      Janet, I fail to understand what you mean here. Did you mean that I fail to acknowledge that some Christians do not see same-sex sexual relationships as sin? I never said other Christians do not see it that way. If you meant something else, please let me know.

  • Janice

    Well said Karen.
    BTW – I have not been able to find “Where is Your Jesus Now” anywhere. I guess online previously read might be my only option.
    I always appreciate your honesty on all topics – you often eloquently say what I think…thank you.

  • Scott Orr

    We have always had groups that we hate. Not only was it okay to hate them, it was encouraged. As soon as someone would come along and convince us that we really shouldn’t hate these folks or, better yet, whenever we actually got to know someone within that group, we would invent another group to hate.

    I think it says something about our lack of confidence in ourselves.

  • http://www.tonyjalicea.com Tony J. Alicea

    Wow, I loved this Karen. I’m glad I stopped by today.

    This is one of those issues that can’t really be addressed in a blog post, a petition or a debate.

    We need to get in people’s lives and stop pointing at actions.

    • http://windowsandpaperwalls.wordpress.com/ Cathy

      This is why I love T.

  • ShelbyDee

    I think the point being made is sin or not, Christians tend to focus on one “sin”, label it, and vilify it while ignoring all the other countless sins, even our own.

    In his book “The Irresistible Revolution”, Shane Claiborne quotes Rich Mullins: “You guys are all into that born again thing, which is great. We do need to be born again, since Jesus said that to a guy named Nicodemus. But if you tell me I have to be born again to enter the kingdom of God, I can tell you that you just have to sell everything you have and give it to the poor, because Jesus said that to one guy too…But I guess that’s why God invented highlighters, so we can highlight the parts we like and ignore the rest.”

    I think many in the church use the highlighter principal when it comes to sin too. We pick and chose the convenient parts that further our own agenda and justify our own comfort zones. As Christ followers, we’re supposed to walk in his footsteps. If he, who was without sin, refused to throw stones at the adulterous,how much more compassion would he expect us, all of us sinners, to show to those around us?

    • http://reconcilingviewpoints.wordpress.com/ dan mcm

      Great point, and a great quote from Rich.

      Totally agree that we are not to throw stones and judge, and we do need to show compassion. The difficulty is, if we stop at compassion and don’t “highlight” the part of the verse where Jesus added “now go and leave your life of sin”, we’re could still be hanging out in our comfort zones.

      Our pastor talks about “grace” and “truth” being like two wings of a plane, and it’s very difficult to keep the wings in balance, but necessary for the plane to fly correctly.

      Very tough topic. I’m glad it’s ultimately God’s job to judge and not mine.

      • Vikki

        You don’t judge people when you speak fact.

        The definition of “Judging” in the dictionary is to form an opinion about, through careful weighing of evidence and testing of premises

        Sin is not an opinion, it is a fact.

        But people who don’t like it when you tell them, based on fact, provided by the bible, that what they are doing is wrong so they say “you’re judging me”

        It is not our job to form an opinion of a persons heart but IS OUR JOB to share the gospel and tell people HEY THATS A SIN AND SIN IS WRONG

        I think people need to quit being so tippy toe about these subjects, because there will be no easy, tell you not to hurt your precious feelings, in Hell.

        Hell is real and it is scary thought to be somewhere like that. Stop saying it isnt my job to….. because it is.

        If christians dont talk and share right from wrong, the devil will and people will follow Evil, if its the only one doing the talking.

  • Jim

    As Karen say’s ““Christian” is a “Christ-follower” by definition”. I do not hold anyone’s life choices against them. It is their choice, and god will never interfere with their free will. I do have a problem with people thrusting this very divisive topic into conversations, as it’s not something, atleast in my experience,that you can change anyones mind about, and i don’t like having anyone lifestyle choices thrown in my face. (Not that everyone does this) However, sin is sin. I do not think that someone living a homosexual lifestyle can recieve eternal salvation. I do not believe that we can ignore the scripture on homosexuality. I will never tell someone not to come to church becuase they are gay, and it does not do them any good. I hope that through christ they can see past their decisions and learn that this life is just a part of our eternity.

    • http://windowsandpaperwalls.wordpress.com/ Cathy

      A few weeks ago, the childrens pastor at our church (a woman) gave the Sunday morning sermon. It was one of the best sermons I’ve ever heard: tender and eloquent and rich.

      My girlfriend’s in-laws happened to be in town, and were there that morning…unfortunately. They are God-fearing folks who firmly believe that women should NOT speak in church (as the NT says.) They sat through the sermon (barely) with clenched jaws, and fled the church premises directly after dismissal.

      They got nothing from that beautiful sermon. I happen to think it’s okay in 2011 for women to speak in church…but who can say which of us is right, until we get to Heaven? I’m not going to tell them they aren’t Christians, and hopefully they won’t say the same to me.

      The whole kaleidoscope of free will and redemption is beautiful and glorious and messy and if there’s one thing the history of man has taught us, it’s that we all fall short – so, so short, and none of us (not even Billy Graham or your favorite Christian) gets it all right; none of us have the absolute, authoritative interpretation of the mind of God, and we never will until the blinders of this world fall away. We’re all like dear, blind children stumbling around, and maybe that’s why God can love us so damn much.

      There are many, many things I “think,” or believe, but only a few things I am truly certain of, with all my heart and soul and intellect. They include: there is a God who created the heavens and the earth. He sent His Son to redeem mankind. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.

      I’m certainly going to live my own life according to what I think God expects of me. But I am not going to tell another human being that they can’t have a relationship with Christ. No one gave me authority to do that. And what could be worse than being wrong about that?

      What if we introduced people to Christ, and let the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit tell them what the deal breakers are, between them and God? What if, if they ask, we tell them what we believe, but admit that nothing is perfect about us – not even our understanding of God?

      • http://windowsandpaperwalls.wordpress.com/ Cathy

        By the way…by girlfriend I meant “girl friend.” I am not gay – but I have loved ones who are.

        • Demi Waal

          Cathy, I wonder why you felt it necessary to qualify your use of the word “girlfriend.” And then do that thing – “…but I have loved ones who are gay” (I have a black friend,two of my best friends are divorced…etc.) That self-justifying exclusive type of language that screams what you actually do think.

          • Rilo

            Demi Waal, I completely disagree. I’m a lesbian, and if I’d accidentally referred to someone who was not my girlfriend as “my girlfriend”, I would immediately try to clarify. It’s not homophobic to state that you’re not gay.

      • Jim

        I would agree that ” I am not going to tell another human being that they can’t have a relationship with Christ”. It is not up to me to Judge, it is up to God. However i cannot understand how someone openly defying God on such a level can end up with salvation. If i am being honest with myself, i am probably not a very good “christian”. We are all sinners. But i like to think that god rewards effot. I probably don’t try hard enough, and I need to work on that, but for those that do try to live according to his word, and try their best, ask for forgiveness, I believe God rewards them. I just do not see how someone could defy him in such a way, and continue to do so, then expect salvation. I may be wrong, I hope one day to be able to walk with Christ and ask him myself.

      • http://koinepdx1.blogspot.com AF Roger

        Glad for your children’s pastor and the work of the gospel she does. Also glad for your open and humble hearts and minds. But just what does the NT say about women in the church? Who actually said it and when? Maybe it’s different from what we have heard or been told. Among the best 125 pages I’ve ever read were the first 125 of J.D. Crossan and Jonathan Reed’s book In Search of Paul. People once sincerely believed that Earth was the center of the solar system. Blood was shed for thinking otherwise. Today we would say (most of us) that the geocentrists were sincerely wrong.

    • http://- kris dee

      “I do not like having anyones lifestyle thrown in my face”. “I do have a problem with people thrusting this divisive topic into conversation”. Exactly my sentiments. When christians missionaries thrust their straight life style on african countries like Uganda, where they now want to introduce the death penalty for homosexuality.Many gay people living today were alive when they were put in prison for being homosexual, a result of christian inspired laws against “sodomy”.Not one single christian spoke out against such laws.Have you read the horrible things that happen to gays in Jamaica owing to the fact that the island is riddled with homophobic bible preachers.have you heard what mexican immigrants say they would like to do to gays if they had the chance, the majority of them having learnt that god sees gays as vile and loathsome from their churches.
      Yes please keep your christian life style to yourself, a lot of gay “sinners”living in third world “bible belts” will walk the streets more safely at night.

    • Saltyestelle

      Really? the ‘Lifestyle choice’ argument?

      • Karen Spears Zacharias

        Actually not. You might want to read it first.

  • http://simplydarlene.wordpress.com/me/ Simply Darlene

    On a whole different note, but one brought up in the post, miss Karen, I reckon The Redhead’s daughter was so thankful that you celebrated with her. You were filling a void with noodles, books, shorts and love.

    Love, love, love. The greatest is love.

    Blessings.

    • Karen Spears Zacharias

      We had fun. Lots of laughter.

  • Ted

    You fail to recognize that the person you blew off was asking for you to support equality of people no matter what their sexual orientation. It’s easy to to ignore the desires of people who are essentially second class citizens to your self but if you do you will have to deal with criticism and anger of those people. If anything you showed your weakness to stand up for something you claim to support by not signing their petition. It would have taken a few seconds to complete yet you decided that the discomfort you would have received by taking that time to sign the petition outweighed the benefits of it. You claim that you were just trying to be a friend but what about your friend that died of aids? Imagine how much it would have meant to him for you to do that if he were still alive. Would that not have been an act of friendship?

    “Instead of everybody screaming and scowling and bullying people into your point of view, y’all might instead try having a meal together sometime.”

    The thing is, they have been trying to do this for years. And for years every step they have taken has been met with resistance by the church dumping millions of dollars into fighting equality legislation. The gay community is fighting and all they want is support from those that believe in the right of equality that they are fighting for. But you ignored them. With that simple act of not showing just a small amount of support you chose to just be tolerant instead of being something more.

    • Karen Spears Zacharias

      People who are essentially second-class citizens to your self?
      Really?
      Wow.
      Talk about not hearing somebody.

      • Ted

        Please explain then.

        • Karen Spears Zacharias

          See above post.

          • Ted

            I am unsure of what you consider to be the “above post” so I will just rephrase. Why do you scoff at the idea that gays are considered second class citizens in this country? Do you seriously believe that the gay community is treated with the same equality as everyone else?

          • Karen Spears Zacharias

            I don’t think gays are second-class citizens. I think there are certainly people who hold biases toward gays, towards blacks, toward the handicapped, towards the obese, towards Muslims, towards Christians, towards Atheists, towards Republicans, towards Democrats, towards the homeless.

            Should we?

            No.

            But the reality is that yes, there are plenty of things that separate us as community and our biases are just the beginning of it. Do I think gay people are singled out more often than any of the aforementioned groups?

            No.

            In fact, I would suggest that gay people have been able to marshall a a whole swarth of high-profile, heavily bankrolled support. I don’t resent that. I just think that it’s not accurate to then suggest that gay people are then somehow relegated to second-class status. By and large they enjoy better jobs, a higher standard of living, and widespread support from media of all venues. That’s more than you can say for homeless children.

          • http://- kris dee

            The gays you are referring to who have good jobs and a high standard of living are a small minority and come from a privileged background.They don’t live in ethnic ghettos or have working class dads to beat the (expletive deleted)out of them because they are fags
            they don’t have mothers like jc who” try so hard to understand”they dont sit in churches where they are treated to” special love” because we must love the sinner but NOT the sin.
            are blacks told by preachers you are vile, but we must accept you and then only if you join a change program, and if you want to be a preacher yourself, forget it.
            Have you sat in a church and been told by a brother this or a sister that….well I know we are supposed to show christian love towards queers and sorry for using that word but I just can’t accept calling them gay because I associate that word with happiness and not with the disgusting things they do to each other
            I know some of them are very artistic and all that but personally I dont want them in my church promoting their degenerate lifestyle, and doesnt paul say that these people will be excluded from the kingdom of heaven.
            Oh yes we are so privileged …I am just overwhelmed by it all…how ungratefull we gays are for not appreciating the special place we have in the hearts and prayers of all christians.

          • Demi Waal

            “By and large they enjoy better jobs, a higher standard of living…” I could take you to many inner city communities where this is not the case! Kare, the part is not the whole. Where are you statistics to prove this? A few highprofiled activists, actors,and a plethora of gay icons and celebrities is not the whole story! I am quite glad for these voices because many of us would not have a voice otherwise, but don’t be try to simplify this – Gay people on the whole are indeed marginalised and are indeed treated as ‘second class citizens.’

  • Jerry

    One thing I have learned is frequently that guy asking for your signature is a paid signature gatherer and he is upset becuase he gets paid for your signature. So not sure you were being viewed for your position or for simple failure to put a buck in his pocket.

    • Karen Spears Zacharias

      Yeah. I couldn’t say for sure. But I will say it is rare that I sign a petition for any reason. I’m a regular voter, a vocal advocate of many issues, and use my platform where I see fit — not to to please others but to speak truth to power, when possible.

  • Steve T

    This reminded me of a clergy friend who stepped into the middle of the unclean and discovered the sacred … He languished for a while, the months becoming years in that that place of non-being, that place of twilight between life and death. Each day was a regimen of medications, one after the other, a continuing intercourse with the never ending mountain of pills. He didn’t have a pill box to keep track of it all. He used a tackle box. A dozen different forms of medicine, scores of individual doses to ensure another day, another breath, another dance with life. If indeed, one could call the dazed stupor in which he had entered a dance. It was more like the stumbling shuffle of one inebriated, except the cost of admission to his reality was much greater than a twenty-four hour hangover. The cost of his reality was life itself.

    The years would have been tolerable. They might have even been fulfilling, except for one thing. He was one of them, one of the untouchables. In each realm of his existence he was never allowed to forget. Friends shunned him. Coworkers despised him. And in his family, that place where he thought he would find acceptance, that place where there was at least the promise of peace, there he found only the emptiness of avoidance. There, more than anywhere else, he found that he was truly and utterly alone. At least his mother still loved him, but then mothers, God’s miracle of love in the flesh, seem to somehow move beyond all pain and would touch a child even if they were to languish in the putrid dregs of the deepest gutter. And so, he learned the message well. He completely understood the fullness of the curse – unclean, pariah, AIDS – fit for little or nothing, rejected. Even the dogs are allowed under the table. Even the dogs get the crumbs.

    Yet, everyone did not turn away. There were a few who would still look upon him, who would still reach out with their flesh and touch his flesh, holding him and touching him, bringing him the gift of recognition. “You exist. You are one of us. You are a created child.” Of course, it was their job. Of course they had taken the oath. But it didn’t matter to him. To him they were angels. They became his best friends and the clinic became his place of refuge, his home. He didn’t go there simply because it was at this place where medications were dispensed, where his condition would be monitored, and treatment offered. He went there because in the long and short of it, there was really no where else left to go. It didn’t make much sense to others, to those beyond the twilight, but he went there so that he might once again become human, so that when he looked into a mirror, he might know that it was a man who stared back. That is what they did for him, they offered him the gift of reflection. Only there, only there.

    Perhaps even angels yield to the inevitable, and one day it did come to past. The mirror was empty, his suffering over. A few lamented his passing, a few. On the day following his death, awash in the depths of sadness, enveloped in pain, his mother made her way to the church which had once been his home, before the sickness, before the twilight. It was the place where he learned to sing, there in the back row of the children’s choir, there where all the women would wave their hands and gently urge him on with a “well, well.” There, where the deacons sat right down on the front pew and called to him, “Come on now. Come on.” It was the place where he learned he was a created child of God, where he learned of life and hope and promise. It was the place where he learned of a wandering carpenter who seemed to have been born to die, who seemed to have been born to live, who seemed to always find space for the other. It was that place. And now it was the place where the pastor looked at his mother and bluntly stated, “I’m sorry, I could never perform a service for him. Too bad it wasn’t different. I’m sorry, it really is too bad.”

    As if life could be no more brutal, she also discovered others felt the same. And with no funds for even the most basic funeral, she wandered back to her home, back to that place of his passing. She wandered back to the solitude of an empty house, unable to even celebrate his release. “Even the dogs, oh Lord, even the dogs.”

    But by and by others did come to be with her. Some came from the place that never forgot he was a man. Some came in white lab coats, came and entered into the grief and the pain with a sure awareness that they would soon do it all again. And yet, out of a compassion that even the inevitable could not diminish, they came. Then there were the others. The others who came in twos and threes. The others who came in the darkness of night, bringing their wine bottles and their tormented lives. The others who came with their addictions and their loss and their loneliness. The others who came when no one else would come, when the good and the clean and the pure had turned away. They came by the dozens. When they had finished coming, there in the middle of her table was a stack of dollars, enough to pay for a casket and enough to pay for a funeral. Sometimes, even in the midst of the unlikeliest places, Jesus does not go unnoticed.

    And his mother did find another pastor to perform that service. She served in a church just down the street from where they had lived. She never knew him, not before or after the twilight. But she knew God. So she performed that service. For after all, even the dogs get the crumbs.

    • Karen Spears Zacharias

      Such a wonderful story and a strong reminder, Steve. Thank you.

    • Dave

      A well contrived and composed story; it gave me a real chunk in my throat (several actually).
      Who was the dog who got the crumbs? The female minister?

  • JC

    My son is gay and that does not mean that I like gays and what they do at all but I have try and understand why they are what they are and why they do what they do,BECAUSE I’m a mother.

    • http://- kris dee

      you dont have to try too hardd jc, your sons feelings,sexual or otherwise towards men is exactly the same as yours, the only difference is that you are physically female and he is not.

  • http://raymondjclements.wordpress.com Raymond

    Dear Karen,

    The Bible is very definte on this issue and it will never change. They all are commiting sin and they know it in their hearts. We love the person but not sin which I am sure you had heard before. Please read the below passage of scripture as it used strong words for a reason and please see the outcome of living a life contrary to way God intended us to live. Please dont be fooled with are spirit, soul and body. When we die our choices here will decide who we spend eternity. God is just and gives us the chioce to worship Him or not.
    Romans 1:16-32
    For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.” For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man–and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.

    Hoping you can see the truth and your heart is open to at least think about what Paul is saying and what has happend to empires and groups of people who in history who have chosen to misuse sex, which is meant to be between a man and a women.

    Raymond

    • Dane

      Keep reading, don’t stop there. Paul is making a case. Keep growing.

  • Straight Lawyer

    1. Karen, ‘citizenship’ (second class or otherwise) has virtually nothing to do with individual biases, or who gets singled out by private citizens.

    It has do with the rights and protections offered by the government.

    2. “By and large they enjoy better jobs, a higher standard of living, and widespread support from media of all venues.” Than WHOM? Than white men? Evangelicals? Breast cancer victims? What a non-statement…

    I applaud your efforts to reconcile your faith and compassionate urges, in spite of the explicit doctrinal conflicts they seem to engender. And I don’t care if you sign petitions or not.

    But to be clear, that guy with the clipboard wasn’t looking to be tolerated, liked or even loved by you, Christians, Atheists or anyone else. He was looking for civil rights.

  • Rilo

    I fail to see where in your anecdote he acted like he was “hating on Christians”. Did he curse Christians in his response? I agree, he sounds like an unpleasant ass, but it reads like you’re tarring all gay folk with an anti-Christian brush, whilst complaining about being tarred with an anti-gay brush.

  • http://literarylegs.blogspot.com Laura Page

    I admit, when I read the title of this post, I thought it was going to be something that it isn’t. I’m relieved to hear that you’re not beligerently anti-gay and that you recognize the ways the church has mishandled the issues.

    That said, I do wish you hadn’t told me that you declined to sign the young man’s petition for gay right because you were too busy having fun. If, as you say, you know this issue thoroughly, you know that the glbtq community is one of the most maligned and discriminated collective groups in our nation. They have been fighting to be seen as decent human beings for a very, very long time. This group, if any group, is America’s poor in spirit. And signing a petition takes all of 30 seconds. Literally–30 seconds to do a guy a favor on an issue that is extremely contested in the church right now, and an issue that YOU are trying to resolve! So…what am I supposed to think? What is that young man holding the sign supposed to think? It’s probably a good thing he didn’t know who you are or the work you’ve done, honestly, because if anybody knows, HE knows that “Those people” aren’t just the outright gay-haters. “Those people” are also the ones who put leisure time and shopping trips higher up on the list of priorities than an individual’s basic human rights on any given occasion. If you love these people and want to help them, you’ve got to help them whenever you are given the opportunity to do so. Not just sometimes. Not just when it’s convenient or when you’re in the right mood. Not just in the pages of a book.

    “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’” Matthew 25:40

    • Karen Spears Zacharias

      I hardly see the GLBT community as the “most maligned & discriminated” collective groups in this nation. I think there is plenty of evidence to show they have one of the most-well-funded lobbying voices in DC. By and large, they are better off financially than many other disenfranchised groups. They’ve made great strides in changing culture — I remember the days of Matthew Shepherd and Ryan White — and they have the means by which to get the attention they seek.

      And it is strident and shrill positions like yours that make me want to roll my eyes and walk in the other direction.

      Sometimes, it’s okay to not sign the petition. I should not feel bullied into it by you or by the guy on the street.

      • http://literarylegs.blogspot.com Laura Page

        I do apologize if I came off strident and shrill. That was not my intention. Neither was it my intention to bully you into action. Perhaps I’m just confused on your stance on this issue. I take you to be saying that you’re not anti-gay, but neither are you pro-gay rights. Am I correct.

        T

        • Karen Spears Zacharias

          What I am is a person who thinks & cares. That does not mean that I’m going to champion every cause that comes along.

          Mark me up with the Grand Dame Madeline L’Engle in these matters: The Spirit, too, sees through the snare of avoiding pain by taking up causes.

          I’m loathe to take up a cause, while ignoring relationships with people.

          I don’t think change comes through petition but through building relationships one with another.

        • Hamid Faizal

          So what if she doesn’t support gay marriage? So what if she is anti-gay? People can feel the way they want and when it comes to tolerance both ways, you gays twist things. Your lifestyle choice is not natural and is rather disgusting. I don’t support gays for the same reason I don’t support pedophiles(assuming the child consents as well), incest(without reproduction), bestiality(again with consent), polygamy(too many spouses). One abnormal behavior leads to another, don’t impose your BS of a nasty lifestyle on us, you gays are always trying to shove your agenda down our throats and get butthurt if we don’t accept it. It is not the same as civil rights that black people fought for at all, and it is outrageous that you would compare a hideous lifestyle choice to a race.

  • Ben

    It’s not really about “talking to someone that thinks differently than you”. It’s about what does god think about the matter and how would he have his children act?

    Love.
    For sure, but…
    Love isn’t some mindless aimless thing. To love isn’t to give someone whatever they want.
    God is Holy. No sin allowed. No way around that one. We can get through Jesus. But no holding onto our sin. We must let it go.
    It’s a hard one for sure. Any sin involving our basic drives is extremely challenging. Eating disorders can be horrendous…. we have to eat.
    We don’t have to gratify our sexual appetites. However they are fairly intermingled with our identity and our social interaction.

    The big question for me is still how do I love people practicing homosexuality without compromising truth. This article leads me absolutely no closer to that goal; It’s just the usual clueless compromising spineless wibble that’s being pumped at us from every angle here in the UK.

    • Ben

      That said. It is well written wibble.


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