And You Know What Assumptions Make Out of Us…

Today was a weird day.

If you live in Alberta you’ll know of the raging debate the reigning Conservative Party has had with the rest of humanity about having gay-straight alliances in schools.

Today in the news:

Alberta government introduces amendment to allow GSAs in schools

So to amend the article a bit: there IS a rural GSA. Lac La Biche. We’re new… still figuring out how to function as we go… but we’re here. It’s a small start, but it’s a START.

In between the hullabaloo of who’s right and who’s wrong, who’s left and who’s on the right again, an article was posted about Rachel Held Evans (author & blogger) and her exit from evangelicalism.

Jonathan Merrit wrote a piece: Rachel Held Evans defends exit from evangelicalism, calls Christians to celebrate sacraments

I like Rachel’s style. I do! She’s funny, direct and vulnerable. Do I agree with her interpretations on everything? Nah. That would be no fun (and highly unwise). But I love her books, and I even wrote a guest post for her once upon a time.

Now that we’ve set the stage, let’s hit the timeline:

1. I was accused today of being a woman “like her” (referencing Rachel), and my sin(s) was not following clear & plain Scripture, thinking too highly of myself, and using the Bible to serve my own selfish ends. (much Scripture was quoted therein; and when I say “much”, I meaneth thus fully full)

Fyi: any person who makes these accusations in order to have anyone “see the light” is only reinforcing the point Rachel’s making. We need something more than what evangelicalism has become. If you don’t like it, deal. We aren’t sinners and we aren’t saints. We’re you neighbours, friends and family. Please deal.

2. Because the provincial government approved the presence of GSAs in schools, friends (both LGBT & straight) were excited. And rightfully so. However the conversations turned toxic when the media hyped up how faith-based schools are creating all this push-back. So “of course you don’t want to associate with Christianity now!”

Ummm… why not?

Why should I be forced to choose between faith and spirituality just because the news is conflating a serious conversation that needs to take place?

Fyi: any person, whatever your intention, who demands a person leave their faith walk in favour of their gender identity/sexual orientation is damaging. If you’re concerned for someone’s personal well-being within their faith community, try supporting them in their journey to find safer space to practice their spirituality. Don’t condemn ALL Christians… Muslims… Buddhists… Sikhs… Jews… or anybody simply because you yourself don’t like faith stuff. 

3. Related to #2, Christian colleagues perceiving GSAs and some kind of family breakdown or effrontery towards God AND believing that the treatment Christians are being given in Canada today is actually persecution began the expected social media campaign of calling LGBT people “bigots”, “hypocrites”, etc.

I don’t know what’s a bigger face-palm: that these people are refusing to see the planks in their own eyes, or that their belief that religious freedom in Canada is somehow being put at-risk. ISIS is killing Christians. Canadian Christians are simply being challenged to make room at the table; but because the dominant Christian voice isn’t calling the shots anymore, people’s noses get out of joint. Any group can shout “Bigot!” But Christians are called to higher, better and more loving ways of being… communicating… embracing.

Fyi: I’m doing a double face-palm.

But in this quagmire of politics-flavoured-with-religious-tones, there is a beautiful bright spot.

Remember I mentioned our tiny GSA here in town? Well we had a guest speaker out last week from The Pride Centre of Edmonton. I had never met this man before, but I got to know a little of his story during his presentation. Some of the bravest people in the world showed up, and I know it took some fabulous guts for them to respond.

Of course one of the first questions was aimed directly at faith: “if people want to still practice their faith, but their faith community isn’t safe or open, what do we do?”

I fully admit that I expected a tongue-lashing against faith traditions, religion, spirituality, and Christianity in particular. Instead, the speaker gave a quiet, grace-filled response: “Seek both.” His tone of respect and understanding filled me with hope. Even better was the reality that we could connect some local folks with a queer-positive clergy person — someone who is already elevating the conversation and genuinely saying: “Welcome…”

So after a day of rhetoric… anger… lashings from all sides… and wincing at some of the words that finally flew out of my own mouth… I went back to this moment when a stranger assisted a vulnerable young person. He didn’t demand she side with one space or the other, one identity or the other; but rather he affirmed both and that was that.

In short, a) just because I’m a Christ-follower, please don’t assume I’m homophobic. And PLEASE don’t harass me/demean me for practicing a faith I love dearly. It’s not persecution, but people can be jackasses over anything. If we really want dialogue and equality, respect my spiritual heritage and choice.

b) Just because I believe in women’s leadership, equality, LGBT inclusion or the need for honest critique of the evangelical juggernaut, it does NOT make me anti-God… anti-family… anti-bible (or whatever). I’m not going to hell, nor am I an aberration or a monster. Furthermore, don’t assume all Christians are just like you. Many are quietly embracing, welcoming and loving. And you know what? Maybe YOU ARE already loving, embracing and welcoming in other ways that need to be affirmed but haven’t been. All I’m asking is that you consider the invitation that as a whole, brands of vocal evangelical branches have not been so.

I have to remember as well that there are moments of brilliance in this world. In the tense times we feel certain that we’re going to be lashed again, a stranger simply says: “Both.”

And the sun suddenly feels a whole lot warmer.

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