A ministry in Canada, New Directions, has recently come out with a DVD called Bridging the Gap: Conversations on Befriending our Gay Neighbors. Today they are hosting a synchroblog, where about 60 bloggers/organizations are all speaking towards what it is to bridge the gap between the Church and the GLBT Community. They asked me to be a part of it, and I’m excited to help advance the dialogue.
Here is my contribution:
Question: I was recently asked by a large Christian magazine what if every Christian and every church bought into what I was saying—what will happen down the road; and what is the end goal to building a bridge?
Here’s the exciting and scary part: I don’t know what it will look like because it’s never been done before, but what I do know, is that the Lord is showing us how to start this movement, and then sustain it for the long haul. Churches and Christians have been so concerned and paralyzed with the X, Y and Z; that they have never done A, B and C in the right way—the exact mission the Lord has placed on my heart through The Marin Foundation and my book Love is an Orientation: Elevating the Conversation with the Gay Community.
Let this story sink in:
A young and successful Christian businessman I know has the all the money he needs and all the looks to back up his skyrocketing career. He has a girlfriend whom he’s attracted to but sexually chaste with. However, he has one small secret that he has been keeping from everyone: the anonymous sex with other males behind his girlfriend’s back.
Over the past year he has gone to the altar at his church on three separate occasions during the service to ask his pastor for help. Each time the pastor promised to follow up with him and never did, leaving him more depressed as he continued to sink further and further away. It took a lot of guts for him to turn to The Marin Foundation and tell me his story after how he had been forgotten. When I told him that I wasn’t going to leave, that I would follow through and that I would help him however he needs to be helped, tears started to fill his eyes and he smiled.
I thought he was happy because he finally found someone he could trust. Boy was I wrong. He looked at me and said, “Do you know how many times I’ve heard that before? I’m only telling you all of this so my conscious is clear. God knows how many of his people have given up, or not tried at all.” With that he paid for his meal, got up, thanked me for my time and promptly left.What just happened? I had never had anything like that happen to me before, and I was really mad. Who was that guy to think I was like all the others? He just used me as a means to feel better, like I was some type of confessional he needed to justify what he was doing emotionally and physically to himself and his girlfriend. I just wasted an hour of my time. I got up and headed out.
No more than two steps out of the door I realized something myself: Who was I to think that he would believe me when I said those things? That exact situation has happened to him three other times that I know of, by a person who he trusted for help. He didn’t want words, he didn’t want a feeling; he wanted me to follow through.
And so that is what I did. As soon as I got back to my desk I emailed and called him to let him know I meant what I said. It’s been almost a year since that first encounter and he’s on a tough journey right now. But it’s sure a lot easier when you know someone isn’t going to give up on you.
When it comes to same-sex sexual attractions and behaviors, Christians just give up too easy. Therefore above anything else when it comes to the GLBT community, the most important thing Christians can do is make a commitment for the long haul. Without a genuine commitment on the Christian’s part there can be, and will be nothing other then meaningless talk and niceties. I hear the same thing again and again from GLBT youth and adults: “I would have rather had Christians never enter my life than to continue entering in and then leaving. It does more harm than good.”
Just read that statement again. Only through a real commitment without knowing what’s going to happen, can believers take the first step to restoring a bridge with the GLBT community.
When I first immersed myself in the GLBT community I had no idea what I was doing or what good could ever come out of my decision. The only thing I did know was that I was in it for the long haul because in my mind, there was no turning back. God will always be faithful to our commitments if we can only be faithful to our own.
I know that committing to something that most of us know nothing about is not easy. When we are walking into an unknown we need assurance that there is hope to one day pull us through the times that we know will come, the times we know we can’t handle. God will fill in those gaps if only we solidify in ourselves the commitment to stay. Remember that God gives the growth, Jesus causes us to stand and it is our job to obey—because God doesn’t only work when we know what the outcome is going to be!