Note: This article is part of a series. Read the full series here.
As we take our journey toward reconciliation in the Rainbow Kingdom, the most critical element in the discussion is to fully understand the destination. Our quest is not one of those high-and-useless “the journey is what it’s all about” concepts where we run around in circles for 40 years. That might have worked well for the Israelites, but even then, they had a picture of where they were going. So yes, we do have a goal.
As we come to find common ground, a mutual frame of reference, and a greater understanding between the Church and the LGBT community, we must be clear. There is an agenda. Let’s remove the blinders and toss aside the mystique. I have a goal. I have a purpose. It’s not even a secret. It is — for the lack of a better word — the very word I’ve been pushing for the last week. It’s a word — a single word: Reconciliation.
First, I’ll explain what our goal is not.
Our goal isn’t tolerance. Tolerance implies that one side is superior to the other, and merely accepts the faults of that far inferior party to coexist. Tolerance maintains that air of elitism that steadfastly holds anything at bay that isn’t up to par. Tolerance is the false notion of “separate but equal.” In a word, it’s oppressive, and only adds to the problem.
Nor is our goal to compromise. We all have clear standards and solid beliefs. We don’t have to give up believing in the authority of Scripture to embrace our brethren. Nor should we have to cut our a piece of our soul to be a part of a church family. Compromise always hurts, always bends the truth, and always leaves someone hanging. And nothing ever changes.
Our quest for reconciliation assumes no superiors; accepts no compromises. It is a true goal of bringing people together, embracing their fellow love for Christ, and casting aside hostility. It’s a goal of total healing, absolute hope, and settling old quarrels. Differences remain, but they are celebrated and embraced instead of used as points of conflicts.
Those struggles can’t be settled by ignoring them. We can’t deal with decades of falsehoods told and rejections of people by the Church by pretending they never happened. Too many LGBT people still have the knives in their backs from the church families they once called home. Too many churches still bear the rifts of the battles that were fought under their roofs over whether or not to “allow” that gay person in the congregation. Too many families bear the dismembered limbs where that person was declared no longer welcome, or when the person they tried to “fix” finally left in a fit of frustration.
The scars are real. The weapons are vicious. And the body count is massive. In some cases, that body count is also literal. We must recognize those scars and not sidestep them — but be willing to restore them.
Reconciliation isn’t only a goal or destination, it’s also a purpose. It’s healing. It’s placing the square peg in the square hole and the round peg into the round hole. It’s knowing our purpose, and finding that place in the body of Christ for all of us. ALL of us.
We are often in opposition over so many issues, but we fail to use that opposition as a way to learn from each other; to support each other. Perhaps the time has come to change our opposition to being opposable.
Imagine a hand where four fingers all have an opposable thumb — which works together from an entirely different position to grasp hold of whatever is needed. Just as the two sides in our long struggle has come from different sides. What holds them together is conversation, a unified purpose.
We can come to this place by engaging in genuine conversation. Sidestep those who divide, and look for that common ground. Not just for the sake of finding that commonality, but to build on it.
When we find those things we have in common, we find a place to build mutual appreciation, the beginning of trust, and a frame of reference that can eventually be covered with a unity that only strengthens the entire body of Christ.
For those who are LGBT, this common ground means an end to hiding, reducing the fear of rejection, and helping them find our place in the Great Commission — by living out the Great Commandment. When we love as we are loved, and preach grace that we ourselves have been given, the power of the Gospel is shown for everyone.
This goal is not unattainable. It’s also not easy. We must be willing to listen, to dialog. Even if you’re not sure about this whole idea, the stories must be told.
In doing so, we must stop letting the poison control the conversation. Those who do nothing but demean, demonize, and dispense known falsehoods (groups of which I’ve written quite often) must not be allowed to direct the discussion. Just as those who revile the church should not drive the conversation. It must be driven by grace, or not at all.
When we start from a position of hate, nothing good will ever emerge. When rage drives the discussion, all that’s left is a bloody carcass. One side might feel good, but the collateral damage has splattered the entire conversation with nothing but hurt.
Even still, there are plenty of us who are so wounded, so hurt, and in so much pain, that even if anyone does come close, we lash out. It’s so important to understand the wisdom of knowing the difference between the hardened heart and the wounded one. In fact, they often look the same.
Fear and despair often look the same as anger and bitterness. Sometimes they’re even combined. Reconciliation means that we must find a place of healing, even for those who started off by lashing out.
Healing requires medicine. It requires care. It requires love. And it requires a lot of patience. It mandates an extraordinary amount of grace – both divine and human. It also requires a picture of what is needed.
That picture is reconciliation. It is the Rainbow Kingdom.
It’s a Kingdom that’s not defined by its sexual expression, but by its expression of the love of God.
It’s a Kingdom that’s a picture of the Body of Christ working in unity, but not uniformity.
It’s a Kingdom where Jesus Christ is indeed Lord, and the people know who they are, and who they are in Christ.
It’s a Kingdom without walls. Without barriers. And without condemnation.
It’s a Kingdom where all eyes are fixed totally on Him, and our differences mean far less than our desire to serve, and please the Lord of Lords.
He is the author and perfecter of our faith, and we know that a cloud of witnesses are all waiting to see what we do next.
The goal is before us. The race is set. Let’s press on to take hold of that for which Jesus took hold of us: our destination — reconciliation.