Andrew Marin: Straight Guy in a Queer World
Katherine Britton – Crosswalk.com News & Culture Editor
CW: In your book you talk a lot about how it’s not your job to go talk to somebody and try to convict them. You say it’s our job to try to introduce them to God and then let God do the convicting.
Marin: First thing is, this Billy Graham quote. He was at a rally for Clinton after Clinton’s sex scandal and a member of the media said, “Billy Graham, why are you here?” And Billy Graham says, “Because it’s the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge, and it’s my job to love. And that’s what I’m here doing.” And that was the first time that I ever truly understood my kingdom job description.
Until that point, for whatever reason, I was always like, “Oh man, I have to do the convicting. I have to do the judging. I have to drag someone on my power from A to Z. A is where I’m at and Z is what I think is best for their life.” Well, what I think is best for their life might not necessarily match up with the journey that God thinks is best for their life.
I think bridge-building, from a straight, Christian perspective, isn’t about the gay or lesbian person in and of themselves. I believe it is about the Lord counter-cultural call for us to live in relationship to and relationship with. If we can only be faithful enough to our kingdom job description, is God not big enough to be faithful to his kingdom job description, whether or not we think it comes true?
We have taken [the attitude that we must change someone from gay to straight] on ourselves as our main job description when it is not. The moment I try to do the convicting, and the judging, while I have not earned any amount of respect in that person’s eyes to be able to speak into their life, I’m trying to do God. And I’m saying, “God, you’re not worthwhile enough for me to trust you. I just have to do it myself.”
CW: We have a hard time figuring out what high fidelity to Scripture – and all of Scripture – looks like while we also want to demonstrate a welcome heart to everybody who is a sinner just like us, whether gay or straight. Any advice on how to walk that tension?
Marin: One of the questions I get quite a bit is, “How do I live out the truth in love? Now, there’s actually two underlying questions to that one. The first thing it could be is, “When do I get to tell them it’s a sin and how soon? And how quickly can that happen?” And the second portion to that is, “I am literally just trying to figure out how to live, and how to learn, and how to love. And I don’t know.” And for me, there is no better place than to come to somebody in the gay or lesbian community that we love and we say, “I am trying to learn how to live and how to love and I don’t know and I don’t have the answers. And unless you let me into your life, and we do this thing together, nothing is ever going to change [with me].”
I never want to sit here and say that I have all the answers. I never want to know what every step along the journey is. That’s not my job. For people looking for that, the only thing I can give them – and I know this is not satisfying for a lot of people but it’s just the dead honest truth – is that I don’t know and they don’t know either. And the only way we’re going to figure either one of things out is if we do it together in conjunction with someone in the gay or lesbian community.
Just because we validate someone’s life and experience as legitimate to them does not mean that we believe in a “pro-gay” theological belief system. And yet when people in the broader church look at myself or people like me who live with the gay community, who have friends in the gay community, they say, “Whoa, wait a second, you’re flying off the handle! You believe in a pro-gay theology!” And I say, “Hey, I’ve never, not one time said that in my life. I just live it out differently.”
There was a large Christian magazine that recently asked me, “Let’s say, Andrew, that everyone buys into what you say. Let’s say every church buys into what you say. What’s going to happen 40 years down the road? Tell us, why should we believe you?”
I said, “Here’s the exciting part and the scary part – I don’t know what it’s going to look like 40 years down the road.”
Everybody has been so concerned with X, Y, and Z, that no one has ever done A, B, and C in the right way so we can figure out what X, Y and Z will look like! So I’m trying to encourage the [church] body to do it and if you want to talk to me in 40 years, when I’m 68, I’ll look back and say, “Here’s where culture shifted. Here’s where the church shifted. Here’s where the gay community shifted.”
I’m just trying to encourage people to do the exact same thing because we have thought we have had everything figured out for so long. But you know what we figured out? We found a gigantic disconnect, a gigantic chasm between us and the gay community. That’s what we’ve won. That’s what we’ve gotten.
CW: We did a lot of stuff about the Day of Silence when that happened in the schools. What do you say to parents who are afraid of their kids accepting the gay lifestyle as something normal and desirable?
Marin: I’ve never met any gay or lesbian person – and once again, I live here – I’ve never met one person who’s said, “You know, I never really felt gay, I never had an attraction to people of the same sex, but when I was in school, and gay became normalized, then I thought, hey, this was something I’m totally going to give a shot to.” I’ve never heard that happen – not one time. It’s just such a false expectation that just keeps the fear perpetuating over and over and over.
I understand when parents get upset about how their kindergartner has to read a book where there are two men kissing at the end with a heart in between. I understand those things. But once again, I try and say to the parents, no matter what the school system does, no matter what books your kids have to read for whatever curriculum – you can go to the evolution thing, it’s the same thing – you are the parent. Are you going to let school and curriculum dictate your kids’ theological belief system? Are you so far removed from their life that they’re just going to buy into whatever they hear at school? I think that’s just a general reminder to parents that your kid is your job, not the teacher’s or the school’s … the gay topic is just a tiny, tiny little piece of that, that we have latched onto and taken to ridiculously extreme levels from my perspective.
Part 3 to be posted tomorrow.