I became seriously convicted after listening to a sermon from an extremely gifted pastor in the midtown Memphis area. I listened to this sermon twice in one day and broke down crying multiple times. I could not stop talking about it or sharing it with my friends and family. I emailed it, tweeted it, and shouted it from a’top a mountain! Okay, so not really a mountain, but I would’ve.
Jonathan McIntosh’s sermon addresses the Gospel and sexual identity. (You can and should listen to it here.) A topic that many are cautious to present, Jonathan tackles bravely with sincere tact, grace, and humility. There were moments I was hooping and hollering in support and moments I wanted to crawl into a hole and repent to every single person on the planet. It stung.
In this sermon, he discusses the relationship Christians have tragically butchered between us and our homosexual friends and family. In the past few years, we have laid the ground work for admittedly severing ties with an entire people group. Ouch. He apologizes, confesses, presents truth, and most memorably (for me), McIntosh reminds us that we ALL bear the image of Christ. All people, from all backgrounds, with all kinds of beliefs and lifestyles. We were created by God and we were created in His image. The scriptures make this very, very clear.
But, no matter your sexual orientation, we all fail to bear that image perfectly. In our brokenness, we cannot completely represent the great Creator who designed us. There are holes, errors, mistakes, and short comings. We fall short. All of us. McIntosh’s sermon didn’t so much break my heart for my LGBT friends as much as it did break my stubborn, hardened heart for humanity as a whole.
I recently re-activated my Facebook page after a year and a half hiatus (I promise this is relevant). I needed some time away from the people I went to high school with, the beautiful size zero mom of 4 angelic children that I was constantly comparing myself to, and the granola Lola types that make me feel bad for buying pre-made fruit leather. At least I’m buying fruit leather. (Am I right? BRING ON THE GUSHERS!) I also needed serious separation from the negative rants that I can’t help but let influence me. I’m working on this, but that’s another post for another time.
Now let me be clear, while I think many people feel like social media is reality, I do not. I try very hard to present to the internet the same person I am in real life. But, that was becoming challenging and I felt the need to shut it down. I needed a break. I was looking around to define who I was. And according to Facebook, I am a failure. A confused, twenty-something with little-to-no purpose or drive.
A few weeks back, my husband presented to me that my anti-Facebook crusade may have indeed reached a prideful state. Ironic, right? So, he challenged me to consider reactivating. With limits and intentional use, I obliged. Honestly, I think he saw what happened to stir this post coming. But nevertheless, he was right in prompting me.
Since I’ve re-activated, I’ve enjoyed catching up on the new babies, spouses, and ventures of my friends and family. (Babies and spouses may actually indeed be ‘ventures’ but I felt since they involved other human lives, I need to list them separately.) Sure, the first person to “like” my first status update was someone I haven’t seen in seven years but that’s not weird, right? (OH MY GOSH, SO WEIRD!) Anyway, I’ve tried to take it all in stride, enjoying feeling a little more in-the-loop with my friends and learning to use the “hide” feature. Genius invention, Zucks.
But then, last night, I got in from my work Christmas party and decided to check my email, Twitter, and Facebook page. Usually a methodical process resulting in minimal emotions, I logged on. The honeymoon was over between me and Facebook. We were in our first, big fight. And I was not only mad but somehow, flabbergasted that this would even happen. Facebook had done me wrong and I was furious.
We Are Sorry
I don’t watch Duck Dynasty like the majority of my Christian brothers and sisters (again, I promise this is relevant). I find some of the sound bites pretty funny and appreciate anytime a family says a prayer on TV. I believe in prayer so I’m all about showing this. Heck, I also love when you’ve got folks quoting the Bible on national television. I believe in the word of God so I’m all about this, too. Anyway, I got on Facebook and started to realize. Something is going on here. Something big. What is it?
I sifted through petitions, rants, and plenty of posts defending the Duck Dynasty cast member, Phil, who spoke out about homosexuality in an interview with GQ magazine.
As should anyone with a brain and some sense, I went directly to the interview to read the actual text. I recommend this practice if you plan to have feelings on current events. Contact the source. (You can find it here. *Note: There is some profanity in this article from the author.)
Yes, Phil does indeed paraphrase from Corinthians. But this is only after he says that homosexuality is on the same slippery slope as bestiality, sleeping around, and other loose behavior. He goes on later to present a rather graphic explanation of why he doesn’t understand same sex attraction specifically in regards to men.
Really. He said that. And, yes, I was offended.
I was offended by what he said, sure. I was offended at what my friends were posting, sure. I was offended by the fact that I was offended. THERE IS SO MUCH MORE GOING ON IN THE WORLD RIGHT NOW TO BE FIRED UP ABOUT.
So, after a knock-down-drag-out debate with my husband about how we, as Christians, should-or-shouldn’t-post in response to all of this, (we actually agreed on how we felt about Phil’s comments, just not how I should react to it) I realized this one, resounding, all-inclusive, completely perfect truth…
Phil bears the image of God. The gay guy who lives down the street from me bears the image of God. The two lesbians who run my favorite dog shop in town bear the image of God. (And they bear the best dog treats around!) The conservative lady who ripped her friends a new one via her Facebook status in defense of Phil bears the image of God. The frustrated progressive who is proud of A&E for suspending Phil from the program bears the image of God. The struggling teen who thinks he may be experiencing same-sex attraction bears the image of God. The toddler who waved at you in the grocery store bears the image of God. The newborn baby who was born in an intersexual state bears the image of God. Your neighbor who can’t seem to smile to save her life bears the image of God. And YOU bear the image of God.
We all screw up, speak too quickly, and react too aggressively. Maybe Phil spoke too quickly. We all have. In the Bible, James warns that the tongue is something that will always need taming. Maybe Phil lost control of his words a bit? Maybe they were crueler than he intended. Either way, he hurt many. His words were indeed destructive. But. Instead of taking sides of men, we could take the side of Christ. We could approach this like Jesus would. We could opt to show him grace while showing him where he should apologize versus freaking out for the sake of division. Maybe we need to apologize to our LGBT friends and remind them that not all believers speak like that and we are sorry when some do. Please forgive us.
We All Bear The Image of God
I believe that we all bear the Image. Let’s try to remember this. Please. Treat each other as image bearers, love one another as Christ would, and do not be fearful of sticking up for the rights and respect of others. Jesus did and He still would.
For two more great perspectives on this issue, take a look at what Matthew Paul Turner has to say when he says we are contributing to a “foolish legacy” and what David Mathis has to say when he says “This is not THE issue.” Lastly, take a look at a consolidated approach from Mike Cosper pointing out the fault on BOTH sides and urging us all to move on.