On Sunday a small team and myself will be going to West Hollywood to share our faith at one of the largest Pride Parades in the country. I felt so compelled to do this that I asked to be excused from my regular pastoral duties on Sunday morning.
I am not necessarily looking forward to this event.
It is very difficult for a Christian to evangelize in this community because we are hated. And with good reason.
Christians have not shown a whole of love to those who are lesbian, gay, transgendered or bi-sexual. In fact, there is a whole contingent of “Sign Guys”—those who hold up banners and placards that focus solely on Judgment and Hell, using unloving, hateful terms toward homosexuals, shouting down curses and insults—who are actually barred from entering the parade, cordoned off and guarded by the police so they won’t get injured by angry people inflamed by their hate speech. (Read a Facebook dialogue I had with just such a Sign Guy by clicking here.)
Most of these “Christian Evangelists” feel it is their duty to rebuke these “sinners.” They cite many Old Testament examples of prophets chastising the profligate and use these accounts as basis for their “ministry”.
Here is one horribly egregious sample of what these types of rebuking prophet/evangelists do. In this case, what one misguided man “preached” to Rosie O’Donnell.
Christians are despised and rejected because the message that is typically shared in the gay community is full of venom and bile.
That’s why I’m called to go there: to show love, to speak truth… and to apologize on behalf of true Christians everywhere. I will tell them that I am sorry that the Christian community has not demonstrated tact, poise, reason and grace to those who are in dire need of a Savior.
Don’t get me wrong. I will talk about sin.
Inevitably, I will be asked: “Will God send me to Hell because I’m gay?”
My answer: “No one ever went to Hell because they are gay.”
Immediately, the person softens and I’m able to explain that they have sinned by breaking God’s ten Commandments. They will be judged for lying, stealing, looking with lust, hating or using God’s name as a cuss word. I warn that if they don’t change, they will end up in Hell because God is just. Then I remind them of God’s incredible grace, love and mercy as demonstrated on a cross. That if they repent and trust in Jesus, who suffered and died on their behalf, was buried for three days and rose again, they can be forgiven.
“So you see,” I’ll say, continuing the conversation, “it’s not about you being gay, it’s because you’ve sinned in these other ways. Homosexuality is a sin, it’s just not THE sin.”
When I speak to a gay person, I will be firm, but gentle—just like I am to everybody I talk to.
If I’m asked about whether gays should be married, I will not shrink back from the truth that marriage, as God created it, has always been between a man and a woman. We should never re-define a term to fit our culture’s preferences. Civil unions? Why not?
I will attempt to shake their hand, even give them a hug. I will ask them if they have ever met a Christian like me. Someone friendly, concerned, and gracious.
I suspect the answer will be no.
And that’s a sin.