A while ago I asked you to ask me anything, and I would give some of my thoughts/reasoning for why I do, or do not do, or believe certain things. If you have questions for me, please feel free to add them here…
I have a lesbian friend who is adamant about knowing my views on gay being sin, on gay marriages and gay rights. She wants to know if I am for gay marriage or against. She wants to know if I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. I’ve been trying to follow your advice and not give her a direct answer but trying to “elevate” the discussion. I don’t think I’m doing it very well. She is frustrated. I tried to get her to define marriage and what she wants. I tried to give a definition of marriage without including gender. I told her it is a foreshadowing of Jesus and the Church. I told her it meant to grow in oneness with each other and with God. She is not satisfied. What do you recommend?
Also I am planning on moving and being a part of her gay community. She and I are close friends and I’ve made friends with her other lesbian friends. They all seem to accept me. I have found a church in her community which would support me. Any advice?
Thanks for the questions Bob! These are great ones. I am going to answer each of them in subsequent posts today and tomorrow:
1. You are being pressed to give one-word answers and are trying to elevate the conversation but it seems to backfire. What to do?
In this situation I will go in one of two directions. 1st, for me, it doesn’t matter how many times people ask me close-ended questions, I don’t give in to answering them in their metrics. Over time, this method of responding becomes normal for those around you. It takes time for traditional paradigms of what is an acceptable medium of engagement to change. However the following story illustrates your point:
I was on a radio show recently where the conservative Christian host asked me 10 times, 10 different ways, within a 40 minute span if I thought homosexuality was a sin. I kept giving him the same answer (My quick doctrine of sin from a Kingdom perspective consists of Romans 3:23, James 2:10 and Matthew 7:1-2). I then finally said to him:
“You can either continue asking me the same question and I will continue to give you the same answer, or you can take what I said as legitimate and we can move on.”
He ended up spending the next 20 minutes of the conversation still asking me if I thought homosexuality is a sin. Sometimes, no matter what you do or say, it doesn’t matter short of fully agreeing with the other person’s viewpoint. And living in that place of tension is ok. Not easy, or comfortable, or satisfying; but ok.
The other thing is that when I have earned the right to speak, I speak. You say you are close friends with her—it’s totally ok for you to communicate where you’re coming from. I am not trying to ask anyone to dodge the ‘difficult conversations’ I am just trying to advocate for elevated discussions within those difficult conversations. When the time is right, there is power that comes with communicating belief systems. Think about it this way:
If someone from the ‘other’ group isn’t supportive of where you are and what you’re doing then you’re not building a bridge.
So at some level, there has to be intentionality in understanding differences in theological belief systems. It’s important, however, to get to the place that says: It doesn’t matter who you are or what you say or what you believe, I still have your back 110%. And that goes both ways. At this point theological differences don’t tear apart—they build up.