Anti-transgender bathroom bills? Anti-LGBTQ discrimination efforts? To ignore or minimize others’ suffering goes against the very heart of the gospel that non-affirming Christians claim to uphold even as they denigrate those they disagree with.
“Love God and love others.”
“Treat others as you want to be treated.”
“Love is patient, kind, and forbearing.”
I want to share with you the story of a man who lives in New York City. He is successful, married, in love, and planning a family.
Oh, by the way, he’s gay.
He was at dinner with his husband and friends and had an experience with an anti-gay person at a restaurant. I wanted to share it with you today…
Something so strange just happened. my husband and I, plus some friends, went to a restaurant for dinner. I thought to myself: I’m in love, this wine is like summer itself, I feel so safe with my husband, we are starting a family, and it took so so so long to get here. HERE, in more than one way. I looked at him with love.
Then I heard her. The woman at the table next to us. I didn’t look at first, I just stared down into the menu. It was like her words frightened me, and time stopped, or reversed, rather. She whispered to what seemed to be her husband across the table: “They are G-A-Y! I can’t believe this. One is touching the other. He is caressing him. GAY! Look!” I didn’t want to cause a scene. My husband didn’t hear, our friends didn’t hear. Only I heard. I was alone with her and her hurtful words. And I was dying inside. I turned my head and looked at her, but she refused to now meet my eyes. I could feel my pulse. She knew I had heard.
Do I let it go? Do I let it pass? Do I just go on with my life?
“So is that a problem?” I asked her loudly. People’s heads turned. She refused to look at me. Her husband sat quiet and didn’t look at me either. They both looked down. It was like I didn’t exist.
I explained calmly what had happened to my husband and our friends, they were angry but I thought they should let it go, and then we paid and left. We walked and all of a sudden I felt so vulnerable. I’m 39 years old and a father to be. I live here in this amazing city where there are so many minorities all blended together. I’m so blessed in many ways, yet I’ve never experienced any of what happened tonight. It made me realize that so many people out there in this world do – every day. I hope that going on the show and being in love – openly – has changed at least one person.Anyway, now I’m finally gonna eat dinner. With my husband. And I’m just going to continue being ME. Okay?
Imagine being spoken of as he was, pointed out in a restaurant by a stranger. Allow this to give you a tiny view into how unsettling and downright scary it can feel to be treated as an oddity, as contemptuous, as an “other.”
Nobody likes that for any reason. And this was an statement about who he is at his very core, how he was created.
At the very least you owe it to the Jesus you represent to try to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Not to be able to see yourself in someone else’s shoes is just pride and fear, that’s all.
I know some Christians simply do not understand how out of touch they are in their shock and dismay at people different from themselves. At people who are gay. At people who are trans.
But to willfully remain out of touch, to refuse to seek to understand or even befriend those they categorically denounce, defies the entirety of the gospel.
Jesus asks us to lay aside our own interests and love sacrificially, especially our enemies – and who are our enemies if not those with whom we vehemently disagree? Please. Really, it’s time to grow up here. It’s time to stop incubating and inbreeding our own self-congratulatory judgment on people we don’t even know.
Try this: take a semester off of your endless Bible studies and actually do a “study abroad” so-to-speak; go meet some of these people whose lives you’re dissecting in your closed circles.
Take a break from learning the meaning of love in the original language and practice love in an original way. It will rejuvenate your entire Christian life. You will be more like Jesus, and you might avoid being the woman in the post.
You can always resume your Bible studies later. 🙂