So there was a forum in Grand Rapids…

lz granderson tweet

So there was a forum in Grand Rapids last night on being gay and Christian.

Keep in mind this is a city where you can barely throw a stick without hitting a church. Or a Christian publisher.

With just two nights to go, only a dozen or so people had registered. But last night, Wealthy Street Theatre was packed.

wealthy streetThe presentations were good. Some were really good. And sure, some parts could have been better. (Twenty minutes probably isn’t enough to meaningfully address all six “clobber texts” in the Bible.)

But what mattered more than the presentations were the people who made them.

A respected psychologist.

The son of a famous pastor.

A card-carrying member of the Christian Reformed Church.

A woman who described herself as representing the black Southern Pentecostal lesbian community.

All of them gay. All of them Christian. All of them saying, “Yes, it can be both.”

And people showed up. Most were ready to listen, judging by their demeanor during the presentations and the Q&A that followed.

Sure, 500 people is a tiny fraction of the local population. Heck, it’s a tiny fraction of the local Christian population. (This is Grand Rapids, remember.)

But it’s a start.

I suspect that most Christians have never truly examined their convictions on this issue. Most of us have inherited our beliefs and assumptions without ever really questioning them. Most of us have taken someone else’s word for it that there’s only one way to interpret the Bible’s teaching on homosexuality — assuming it addresses the subject at all. (Side note: when someone tells you there’s only one way to interpret a 2,000 year-old text, be suspicious.)

But I think all that is starting to change, as the safe, sanitized worlds we’ve built for ourselves begin to collapse…

As “LGBT” ceases to be a distant concept for most of us…

As people we know and love — sons, daughters, uncles, parents, friends — come out of the closet.

We owe them more than an unexamined theology of condemnation.

We owe it to them to not just cling to our inherited beliefs and assumptions by default.

We owe it to them to “test everything” — including our own convictions, prejudices, and assumptions.

We owe it to them to hold on to what is good.

All I can say is, I saw a lot that was good in Wealthy Street Theater last night.

4 thoughts on “So there was a forum in Grand Rapids…

  1. Ben, so wonderful to hear you went to this. LZ is actually a friend and was incredibly supportive after I came out as an ally.

    I get really sad sometimes when I think about the fact that many of my closest friends and family may *never* be LGBT-affirming (I actually remember telling my mom just that every time we fought, I’d pull out Romans 1 and say I could never accept her for being gay) but I really appreciate you lending your voice to this issue because it gives me great hope!

    • Funny. I’m Facebook friends with LZ, but we’ve never actually met. He gave a great talk at TEDx Grand Rapids last year: http://www.ted.com/talks/lz_granderson_the_myth_of_the_gay_agenda.html

      When you think about your closest friends and family, just remember… you changed. I changed. Like you, I used to argue that being gay and Christian were irreconcilable. Heck, I’m sorry to say I wrote the book on it. (Well, the booklet, anyway.) Mercifully, it’s out of print now…but you can still find copies on Amazon.com if you look hard enough.

      My point is…there’s always hope that people can change.

  2. Pingback: Seven things at 1 o’clock

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