Four years ago today I was speaking in Washington, DC on Capitol Hill (which that talk is now archived in the Smithsonian Museum) during one of President Barack Obama’s Inauguration events. What a crazy time these past four years have been, much of growth and much of the same problems facing us four years ago. As Martin Luther King Jr. quotes have been flying around all day, here’s my favorite; and one that has shaped a huge part of how I frame my life and the work of The Marin Foundation (this excerpt comes from my book):
And 50 years later from when that letter from Birmingham was penned, too many populations in contemporary society are still running from that constructive tension. Culture sees “tension” as something to be solved quickly in order to step out on the other side of it and move along, without remembrance of what that tension might have produced.
Christians need to start willfully planting themselves in the middle of some very uncomfortable places—making a conscious commitment to stay in that place with the GLBT community. In 1963 Martin Luther King Jr. was locked up in a jail in Birmingham, Alabama. In a letter to confront his fellow white clergymen, MLK reflected on his life’s work to that point and said: “I must confess that I am not afraid of the world tension. I have earnestly opposed violent tension my whole life, but there is a type of constructive, non-violent tension which is necessary for growth.”
This also means that the productive growth MLK was talking about will not come–because growth only comes retrospectively, after much time has been spent immersed in tension filled areas with what we are most uneasy about. Those tension-filled areas are cloudy, uncomfortable, confusing, overbearing, uneasy and in many times extremely painful. And they’re worth every minute for the kingdom we so boldly claim ourselves to be a part of.