Sorry for the long delay again. It seems blogging is not something I have figured out how to fit into my schedule yet...but hey! My wife has inspired me with her blogging. :-)
I wanted to write this for two reasons: 1) To get me own thoughts in order and 2) because I would like to know your thoughts.
Below is a conversation that hasn't happened but very well could in the next two weeks. Since moving back to Goldsboro, I have met a man who I am beginning to get to know. He seems not only willing but interested in discussing his views on faith and as a follower of Jesus who also happens to be a pastor, I am super excited and willing to join in such a discussion. So, I wanted to lay out for you how I see the conversation going.
My next blog post, which I hope to write on Friday, will detail a bit more of the theology and thinking behind this conversation and what I believe to be the major hurdle in how the church needs to respond to those struggling with sexuality in our society.
But for now....a conversation.
C (Me): Hey Bob. How ya doin'.
B (the guy): Fine. How are you? How is the job search going?
C: Ok, I suppose. It takes a long time to get matched up at a new church.
B: Well, that is kinda how I feel too.
C: What do you mean?
B: Well, it's just that I don't really fit in at churches. I mean...I already know I'm going to hell (said in a mocking voice).
C: Why are you going to hell? Did someone tell you that?
B: Well, because I am gay. Lots of people have told me that..especially Christians.
C: I'm sorry people have hurt you, Bob.
B: Don't you think I am going to hell. I mean...isn't that what you preach on Sundays?
C: (laughing softly) Well, not normally. Of course I do preach about hell on occasion but let me level with you, Bob, about what the Bible teaches. The Bible teaches that everyone is going to hell. You, me, the lunch lady, the little ol' sweet lady down the street, everyone...unless we have been awakened to our sinfulness and have found the only one who can deal with that sinfulness. That's where Jesus fits in.
B: But I'm gay.
C: And I'm not. But I've stolen things, I've cussed people up one side and down another, I've yelled at my kids, I've hated people, I've lied. So, you're gay. Why does that make you go to hell any more than someone like me?
B: But I thought all gay people are going to hell...?
C: They are. Just like alcoholics are. Just like thieves are. Just like murders are. Just like super nice people who help the little old ladies across the street are. And just like I am or was.
C: Bob, the wonder of Christianity is that God saves any of us from hell. We all deserve it. You gayness doesn't make you more bound for hell than me. Because you and I we both have the same problem. Sin. Not gayness. Sin is the problem not our sexuality.
B: But I can't separate my gayness from who I am! That's like saying you're not white. You just are. And I just am...gay.
C: Bob, that is where you are wrong. I mean, I am white, you're right about that, but being white doesn't define me. Just like being gay doesn't define you. You and I, Bob, under my whiteness and regardless of your gayness and born the same. Sinful. Our sin is what defines us Lost. Rebellious. Defiant. We come into this world with one objective to get what we want, as much as we want, as quick as we want because we are sinfully selfish. Me, you, everyone is in the same boat. A boat that will sink. A boat that will wreck. But, Bob, the wonder of it all is that Jesus says, "I can change you. I can transform all that sinfulness. I can make you into something you could never hope to be on your own. Righteous...or in more common language...clean. I can clean you from all that sin. I can change you from the very core of who you are all the way out." That is what Jesus can do, Bob. And that is what Jesus has done and is continuing to do for me. I am not who I once was. I have been made new. I am still being made new.
B: I'm not really sure what to think about all this...
C: Bob, listen to me. All have sinned. All deserve hell. But Jesus can step in and change all of that for those who have been given the gift to wake up from their sinfulness, see it for what it is, cry out for help, and call on Jesus to rescue them from their sin. He can do that for you...but you need to let go of who you think you are. Jesus isn't interested in some of you. He demands all of who you truly are. All of Bob. Not Bob as defined by his sexuality. But Bob defined by your sinfulness. All of you. And what do you get in exchange? Life. Life like you never knew it existed. All of your sinfulness which leads to death for true life. That is the offer Jesus makes.
B: Well, that isn't what I've heard. That sounds...well, I'm not sure how that sounds but giving up who I am because you say I'm in a sinking boat seems a bit...well, childish. I'm gay. It's who I am.
C: Fair enough. But childish or not...it is rock solid truth. I'm changed because I made the trade. My sinfulness for Jesus' righteousness. Death for Life.