I was recently waiting in the checkout line at Michaels holding a spool of bright red ribbon that I was purchasing for a job, surrounded by women and young girls collecting supplies for their craft projects, but I was standing confident because as I tell my daughter, I’m secure in my manhood.
In the line just in front of me stood two men, and for no other reason than the line being slow, I watched them. Then one of the men leaned over and laughingly nibbled the other’s ear.
My immediate reaction was to turn away and repress my need to gag, and if I didn’t need to pay for the ribbon, I would have retreated, because I really was—well, let’s say uncomfortable. I was also aware of different possible directions the next few minutes could take if my inherent response was too noticeable.
As I later digested my thoughts, I realized that I am going to have to develop a practiced approach to how I react in that kind of situation, because it’s not going away. That horse has left the barn, and is frolicking through the pastures.
I thought about how, if I were confronted by the two men, asserting their right to behave just as straight couples do, (although had I seen a straight couple, save one that looked cute and honeymoon-ish, act that way, I might have gagged too,) I could take two approaches depending on what the opportunity offered.
The first would be an adult variation on the brief back and forth dialogue that we used to have as 6th graders:
“What are you looking at?”
“Nothing—what are you looking at?”
“You better stop looking at me.”
“I’m not looking at you. And I can look at whoever I want.”
And on. The tactic of attrition.
The second would be to take the time and offer a more in-depth dialogue—an opportunity to flesh out, so to speak, the issues in a way that might open up new insights. I might look forward to having a discussion with them.
In preparing for a discussion like that, I decided that I would compartmentalize my views on homosexuality into three areas—personal, social, and religious in any encounter I have with an advocate of gay marriage. I might elaborate how that plays out in my mind another time.
Last week I was listening to TV coverage of the big rallies in front of the Supreme Court building as the deliberations on gay marriage took place. The reporter did his best to present both sides while at the same time highlight supporters of each side as they really got into each other’s grill.
Two men stood feet apart, one shouting “Homosexuality is an abomination before God!” while the other shouted, “You’re a homophobe and a racist!”
The coverage then showed a wide-angle view of the pretty much behaved and equally-sided but outspoken crowd.
Then, at the front of the pro-Gay supporters, the camera showed a man dressed to the hilt in the kind of outlandish pink chiffon-feather boa-Rio Carnival type of costume that you might see during Mardi Gra, shakin’ it like he’d got, full on for the crowd.
I cringed at him and thought, “I’m not sure he’s a good icon of what the pro-Gay crowd is trying to achieve here, which in their mind is a significant, and righteous change in our culture. I bet they’d love to hide him in embarrassment behind the surrounding trees.
Then the camera showed a woman who screeched out “God dooms the fags! They’re hideous! They’re monsters!”
Really? I wanted to take her over behind the trees too so she could have it out with Elton John guy, and did kind of want to stuff a sock in her mouth. Then I tried to picture Christ stuffing a sock in her mouth, and thought better of it.
In the movie Crash, a drama revolving around racism in Los Angeles, one of the black protagonists says to a black thug who had just high jacked his car, barely escaping a confrontation with the police, “You’re embarrassing me. And you’re embarrassing yourself.”
This woman was embarrassing me. And she was embarrassing Christ.
This morning, ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos asked New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan “what can the Catholic Church say to gays and lesbians, who feel unwelcomed by the Church, which does not support same-sex marriage”:
“Well, the first thing I’d say to them is, ‘I love you, too. And God loves you. And you are made in God’s image and likeness. And – and we – we want your happiness. But – and you’re entitled to friendship.’ But we also know that God has told us that the way to happiness, that – especially when it comes to sexual love – that is intended only for a man and woman in marriage, where children can come about naturally,” Dolan said.
It was this he then said that really expressed what the church should do in the face of the same-sex marriage issue, as well as homosexuality in general:
“We got to be – we got to do better to see that our defense of marriage is not reduced to an attack on gay people. And I admit we haven’t been too good at that. We try our darndest to make sure we’re not an anti-anybody.”
I loved his use of the word “reduced.” We need to always keep in mind that everything Christ brought to the world revolved not around the theme of reducing, but raising up.
There is a place for confrontation, but it has to be at the right opportunity and done with grace, reason, and humility. Otherwise it will lack the love of Christ and be counterproductive to any possible target audience we are trying to reach, which is pretty much everyone.
There will be plenty of opportunity ahead—we need to figure out now how we’re going to respond on a daily basis because the issue is not going to go away. If the ship of what in our minds has been a Christian America is going down, we need to make sure that at least we’re throwing deck chairs overboard so that some can float instead of just rearranging them.
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