Thursday, September 5, 2013

Not That Way

Dear @NALTChristians & The LGBT Community,

You are being heard.

I've spent the last 24 hours reading every side I can find about NALT and the varied reactions of the LGBT Community. It's been frustrating, infuriating, heartbreaking and, at times, hyperbolic.

I am one person and my words may mean nothing. They may get lost in all the other words being thrown around the interwebs. They may be heard, discected, condemned or praised. They may inspire "tl:dr" comments. I'd love to say I don't care and am ready for whatever reaming may come... but the truth is, I'm tossing my heart out here and am scared to death what the reaction may be.

I recognize I'm yet another self-proclaimed Allied Christian who is posting something primarily about me and I ask forgiveness (or whatever term preferred for excusing a clumsy, ignorant mistake) in advance because my own perspective is all I honestly have.

Seeing a Trans* loved one deal with bigotry in an ICU, witnessing or hearing first hand stories about abuse and hate directed at loved ones who do not identify as straight Christians, even standing up to church leadership, hospital staff, or physically and verbally fighting for the rights of these loved ones is still "about me".

If I tell the story of walking a crowded public market with a gay man who proudly carried a hand painted sign proclaiming "I want it all and I want it delivered by hot naked men", it's still about me. Those who hold an automatic bias because I am a straight, white Christian will only see me trying to justify myself by throwing out a story of the "token gay" in my life.

On the other hand... that "token gay" has been in my life long enough to know I'm not simply a words only ally. He's graciously given me the time to show him who I am beyond words. He (and most of the other QUILTBAG folks in my life) have known me long enough to get past my "Fundie Christian Breeder, Worship & Youth Leader" background to realize I live the words I speak and when I don't, I own up to it and try to change for the better.

NALT seems to be an honest effort to reach out to a Community long maligned and mistreated by Christians. It's not a perfect effort and I hope and pray those involved will take the criticisms (gentle and otherwise) into consideration because they are valid. Listen to what is being said. Try not to get caught up in feeling attacked and recognize the people you're talking to have NO reason at all to care in the least about this effort at reparation.

To the LGBT/QUILTBAG community, please give these folks time to walk their talk. They may surprise everyone. They may not but, as we all know, change doesn't come overnight. Most of the leadership of this project have made huge changes just to get where they are now. It's going to take time for them to learn to speak an inclusive rather than Christianese language. Their hearts are changing... and I can tell you from personal experience, once the heart changes, the rest follows along. It's just never an instant thing.

Like the man who apologized for the actions of the Church at a Pride Parade and was hugged by a Gay man who took the apology to heart... not everyone is going to see NALT as anything more than an empty gesture or thinly veiled attempt to "convert"...

But maybe it will matter to some people. Maybe LGBT/QUILTBAG people who have been hurt by the church will allow themselves room to heal, if not trust. Maybe Christians who have turned their backs on this wonderful Community or even family members will find in this a catalyst for change in their own hearts.

I hope that LGBT/QUILTBAG Christians will participate, if for no other reason than to let others know it's not so much about being Christian as it is about being human and accepting others based on their humanity and not their sexual, religious or racial identity.

NALT, don't shut down the negative feedback. Try to see some of what you're hearing as a taste of what the Community has suffered for hundreds of years. Let it increase your compassion and understanding. Accept that you will have to live out the Love you proclaim before most people will give it a passing chance.

No matter what, I'll continue to stand as a Christ Follower and part of the QUILTBAG community. I promise to speak up when needed and act when warranted. I promise I'll screw up, learn and try again. I promise that living what I believe will not include maligning other races, belief systems or identities.

With love and prayers for Peace,
Marisa