Thursday, January 17, 2013

Andrew Marin and Living in the Tension

Perhaps you've heard the news that Andrew Marin was uninvited from a panel discussion at the UN about the international criminalization of homosexuality. That's bad news. As a gay, non-evangelical Christian with evangelical family members, I believe in what Andrew Marin (and the Marin Foundation) is trying to accomplish. I only found out about his blog and the foundation late last year, although I was vaguely aware of the "I was wrong and I'm sorry" movement. I don't know exactly what he believes regarding homosexuality, except that he believes in the worth and value of all people, and that the church has treated the LGBT community so poorly to the point that countless people have been hurt, damaged, and broken. The hopelessness and shame have even led many to suicide.

Andrew Marin and others are attempting to bridge a gap that seems impossly wide. (He could be the Don Quixote of our time in fact--dreaming the impossible dream!) That gap is streched further by hardline activists on both side of the argument.

Here's the interesting thing: I truly believe the "hardline activists" for the LGBT community--those who don't support Marin and/or have no patience for evangelicals who struggle with the issue--are also doing good work. Hear me out: if it wasn't for the loud and strident voices in support for gay rights, where would I be today as a gay man? Would it even be safe for me to live and work openly as a gay person? I don't really want them to stop doing what THEY are doing, either.

This is what makes Marin's job so incredibly difficult and noble. As the "front lines" of LGBT activism march on, there are earnestly searching people who are, in effect, left behind. People who want so bad to turn away from this notion of the gay person being "in sin," yet feel that they can't because they would be betraying their faith. Good people who go to church and wonder why God "hates" gay people but feel no hatred of their own; still, because they believe the Bible tells them so, they need to stand firm. People who are truly loving in spite of what they have been taught since infancy. It's incredibly difficult to betray a belief taught in childhood and nurtured through a lifetime. What I believe Marin is doing is creating a safe space for people who don't want to lose their faith (a faith they feel is impossible without believing an certain interpretation of the Bible) yet long to love, reach out, and understand. They are in fact desperate to love, because being a follower of Christ is counter to hate.

Perhaps even more importantly, though: Marin is reaching out to bridge this unbridgable gap to help young people who are at risk in the church. If earnest evangelical Christians are not included in the conversation, how will their LGBT children feel safe to talk about it with their parents? We don't have to agree, but we can find common ground, which could be the difference between merely a difficult adolescence and a hopeless one.
Marin and others like him "live in this tension" as he calls it. By creating this safe space, some activists see an unforgivable compromise. In reality, it is just part of the bigger picture. In the meantime, those of us who support Marin and understand what he is doing can only support, encourage, and pray for him. And we need to develop thicker skins while keeping our hearts open. Tension indeed.

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