A writing by a friend of mine that made me think.:
Of Homosexuals and Christian Sign Holders.Share
Wednesday, July 29, 2009 at 12:28pm
This past Sunday was the gay pride parade and festival in my hometown of Colorado Springs, Co. A lot of Christians bring large signs to this event every year. This year I decided to bring a sign of my own.
Colorado Springs is widely held as one of the most Christian conservative towns in the nation. It is the home to such large Christian ministries as Focus on the Family, Young Life, and Compassion International. It was also the stage of the rather large Ted Haggard scandal that rocked so many headlines a few years back. The scandal, if you remember, involved a very successful and outspoken evangelical pastor and his involvement with a homosexual prostitute. All of this said, it is really no surprise that a gay pride parade is going to stir up a little controversy. Over the past several years, it has been expected to see at least a handful of people walking around the perimeter of the park where the event is held, holding large signs which read things like "God hates fags" and "Sodomites go to Hell". My sign said something a little different.
I arrived early on Sunday morning, just as the festivities were getting started. There were several drag queens in full get-up. A lot of both men and women very scantily dressed. There were gays and lesbians of all ages, colors and social standings displaying absolutely no fear of public affection. And then there was me, in a nice shirt and slacks, holding my sign and smiling silently. A lot of people at first simply took me as a protester. One person flipped me off and uttered a few choice words at me. It was then that his friend hit him on the shoulder and said, "read the sign, idiot". His jaw dropped as he read it, tears filled his eyes and a large smile filled his face. He came up to me and gave me a hug. "Thank you", he said. My sign, in simple black letters, said "I am sorry for the way Christians have treated you". My day had just begun.
I walked around the park for a couple of hours, showing everyone I could my sign. The response was overwhelming. Many people came up to hug me or shake my hand. More than a few people cried. Three pastor's kids approached me, one of which had been completely disowned by his family, they all said that this was a great thing. That they accepted my apology. I thought about the old adage that says to love the sinner but hate the sin. I wondered if, from these people's perspectives, if they could tell the difference from what was being hated.
After a few minutes someone stopped me and asked, "why are you doing this?" I told them that having read the Bible, I realized that for every verse of scripture that we can find to condemn homosexuality there are at least two more explicitly commanding people of faith to love people, especially those that we consider "sinners" and "lost". I said that Christians cannot justify acting immorally just because we perceive immorality in others. Whether or not homosexuality is wrong is irrelevant, what I am addressing is the fact that Christians are commanded to love and we have failed at that, not just towards the gay, lesbian and transgender community but towards a lot of minorities in this country. She smiled, said "God bless you" and shook my hand.
The one thing that I found most surprising from the reactions I received was the way the gay community came to the defense of Christianity. "Your sign should say some Christians", one person said, "the majority of Christians are really great, loving people. It's just a few of them that are really hateful". I smiled and said, "You're right, but the problem is that those few loud people presume to speak for all of Christianity, which is why I presume to speak for all Christianity when I apologize for them."
The Christian Protesters showed up around half past noon (I figured they had to go to church first), with all of their signs and bibles in tow. Being a bit of an antagonist, I somehow found myself standing next to them with my sign. I smiled. They scowled. We said nothing for some time. After about forty-five minutes, I approached one of the sign holders. "Can I ask you a question?" He smiled a certain braced, defensive smile and said "Absolutely. What's on your mind?" I said, "I was just wondering if you guys have big signs condemning greed that you hold outside all of the banks?"
"No, no we don't."
"What about big signs saying that rebellion will send you to hell that you hold outside all of the highschools?"
He laughed, "No, we don't have those either."
"But sin is sin, right? God doesn't discriminate? All sins are equal?"
"Of course, sin is sin. God hates all of it."
"Doesn't it seem like you are kind of picking this one particular sin out? That maybe these signs represent hate and bigotry, instead of just the gospel?"
"No, listen," he said, "all we are doing here is just trying to provide an alternative lifestyle to the ones that these people are living. We are not saying that they are any worse than anyone else. Look at me, I was an adulterer. I cheated on my wife for several years, and I can tell you that I was going to the exact same Hell. I needed to wake up, I needed to turn to Jesus."
"And can I ask what turned you around? Was it a big sign that someone was holding?"
He laughed and said no.
"Was it something a little more relational then?"
He smiled and said that, actually, a friend of his invited him to church.
"That's very interesting", I said. I looked at his sign, it said "Turn to Jesus" in big red letters. "Can I ask you about Jesus?", I asked.
"Jesus hung around with a lot of sinners. He even had dinner with prostitutes and tax-collectors, didn't he?"
"He did. Jesus was a friend of the sinner."
"Do you think he'd be here at the parade today?"
"I do. I really do."
"Do you think he'd be holding a sign?"
The man said nothing. I went on.
"One of my favorite stories is the one about Jesus and the woman at the well. Do you think that woman would have talked to Jesus if he was holding a sign?"
The man still said nothing.
"Sir, the only thing we really disagree on right now is approach. The apostle Paul said that he was all things to all people. He didn't change his message at all, but adapted the way that he presented it to the culture he was addressing so that they could understand it and receive it better. And I'm sure that once you make up a sign that condemns pride and vanity and hold it up outside of the beauty parlor, people might take you at face value, but until then, the gay community will really only see these signs as symbols of hate and prejudice and not the love of Jesus."
The man smiled and said "It was really good talking to you."
I smiled and said, "It was great talking to you. Sir, I know that we've already established that sin is sin and God does not discriminate. However, I don't think that's completely true. I think God might hold Christians to a higher standard. I think he might view the way Christians have treated non-believers as the biggest sin to happen here today."
"You know, I could not agree more."
I walked away, still holding my sign.
As I walked away, I looked back and noticed that there was one less sign up than there was before.