I’ve mentioned my good friend, Mike Dsane, before. He’s a pastor, a loyal friend, and an encouraging Christian. He messaged me last week with heavy thoughts on his heart and asked if he could guest post here. In a way, his heart in this served as a catalyst for the rest of the series this week. This is a hard, challenging message on a controversial issue. And I can’t think of another message that needs to sink so deeply into the heart of Christians in America. It’s my joy and honor to have Mike writing here today, and I pray that God opens hearts to receive the message that Mike shares with us.
Let me start with a disclaimer and a confession- I’m a hypocrite. Not necessarily news to anyone, but let me explain why. I often get frustrated when pastors, authors and celebrities use their voice to articulate one-sided opinions on matters of the heart that are too weighty for a blog or pithy quote. Matters like these require a conversation and not a treatise. But today, I’m a hypocrite, because I am going to violate that rule in hopes that it will create space for the beauty of the Gospel.
Last night, my wife and I sat down to watch the Grammy’s. Being in my early 30’s and having a creative ethos, I admit I love the performances, the music, the bigness of the production. Nothing was bigger during the Grammy’s than Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ performance of Same Love. From the first camera angle of the vintage style church stage set, I knew that the next few moments were going to create an explosive conversation about the church, culture, hip hop, and sexuality.
The essence of Macklemore’s message was that all love is the same love and any attack on the human right to pursue love is intolerant and narrow-minded regardless of the source. If his lyrics didn’t communicate clearly enough, the iconic moment at the end of the song punctuated it emphatically. At the close of the song, an array of couples, several of which were same gender, publicly proclaimed their marriage nuptials in front of the Grammy’s and the televised world.
My immediate thought was ‘Facebook is about to blow up!!!’
The reactions explain the two worlds between which I find myself torn. As a young adult, who has grown up in a more tolerant, more connected world than my predecessors- the reaction tends to sound like this, “That was beautiful. I love Macklemore. #samelove!!” As the pastor and member of the Christian community, the stereotypical reaction sounds like this, “ I can’t believe what our world is coming to. The Grammy’s are proof of everything that is wrong with our country and this world.”
For the next few paragraphs, I pray that God gives me the grace to speak truth to both.
Allow me to start with my community of faith. I am aware of the potential repercussions my words may create for my ministry. So let me be fearless in the assertion of my point.
A better way to say this is that those who are walking the journey of same gender attraction are not an issue to be debated, but people to be loved. I am fully aware of the Old and New Testament texts that place same sex relations within the scope of sin. I do not deny the authority and the weight of Scripture. However, I want to suggest we are fighting the wrong fight.
Here is an unpalatable reality for many who would react negatively to what they saw Sunday night at the Grammy’s: In our lifetime, same sex marriage will more than likely become ratified as a legal institution.
The fight is less about whether this country will give legal asylum for what we deem immoral. The real fight is will we as a church be capable of loving what we deem unlovely. The men and women of our world who live gay, lesbian and bisexual lifestyles are not issues to be debated, they are people whom Christ calls us to love.
Allow me to utilize some Scripture.
2 Corinthians 5.20 ESV
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
The Apostle Paul is describing the call of his ministry. The idea of being an ambassador carries special weight. To be an ambassador is to be a representative of the agenda and intentions of a Sovereign nation or power. The ambassador only represents the interest of the one who sent him. For us as ambassadors of Christ, we can only represent His interest in making an appeal to those whose lives are separated from Him.
In fact as ambassadors, we must handle our ambassadorial mission in a manner consistent with Christ. In other words, in this fight, we can only employ the weapons that Christ would have employed. His weapons were instruments of grace, not disgust and fear.
When Christ encountered brokenness, he extended dignity and grace. With tax collectors and sinners, he sat with them. With contagious, marginalized lepers, he touched them. With an explicitly guilty, adulterous woman, he rescued her. Jesus gave dignity and grace.
He did not respond in disgust or flee in fear. If our natural reaction to what we saw Sunday night during the performance of Same Love was grabbing the remote in disgust or fleeing from the conversation, we are employing the wrong instruments.
My fear for the Church, which I help lead, is that we are reacting in a manner inconsistent with our call to allow God to make his appeal through us. My fear is that we have disqualified ourselves as ambassadors because instead of coming to the table to speak grace and truth, we have walked away in disgust. We are talking- just from cowardly positions behind our social media profiles. My fear is that we have fled because of discomfort and fear and abdicated our role as light pushing back darkness.
Let’s lean in, let’s embrace those to whom the Lord is seeking to make his appeal through us. Those who are crying for the same love are right in calling for it. They desperately need the same love of Christ and the same grace from His Church.
To my peers- lack of truth is not tolerance. It is ignorance. Before we go too far, let me disarm your initial criticism. I know when you just read the words pastor and Christian, you immediately thought- conservative, boring and disconnected. You probably assume that if wasn’t written by Hillsong or Jeremy Camp, I assume it was written by the enemy, that is unless it is safe like Christmas music or Rascal Flatts. You probably assume that I want to be in control and want to dictate what you listen to, watch, and ultimately think. You are probably amazed that I watched the Grammy’s at all. But you must know that I love hip hop. I grew up with the sounds of Tupac, Notorious B.I.G, and NaS as the anthems of my teenage adventures. In fact, when it comes to Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, I am shouting, “it was only 99 cents!!” incessantly.
I am not against you, but I am afraid we are so desperate to be liked and accepted, we fear having any solid convictions. For me to write that I believe in Scripture in its entirety, immediately conjures images of legalistic, dogmatic intolerance in the minds of most of my contemporaries. To take the next step and openly say that I believe that the Scripture bears weight on every dimension of our life, including the definition of marriage, probably creates the image of a bigot in your mind. To take the final step and say that I fully believe that same gender sex is sin probably makes you want to turn me off as just another one of those Christians.
But I urge you, don’t read my commitment to conviction as narrow-minded intolerance. While my outspoken, traditional view makes this conversation less than comfortable, I challenge you to not buy into the lie that true love accepts everything. I do believe that we can disagree and instead of drawing battle arrays and preparing for a war of attrition, we can sit as friends and learn what love truly looks like.
A common call of the church is repentance. Allow me to repent of our/my unwillingness to listen. But allow me to challenge you to do the same. We may be dangerously similar in our tendency to make love equal compliance or unquestioned acceptance. I believe true love is neither. It is truth. It is all of us seeing one another with both our failures and frailty and trusting Christ to create a sameness of grace between us to know and feel the heart of another. My prayer for my peers and friends, regardless of your sexual orientation, is that you wouldn’t limit love to finding agreement and acceptance in another man or woman, but that you would find love first in the person and work of Jesus.
May He give us all the same love and same grace.