First Posted 12-23-2015
I was asked by someone I met through Tinder if I am “gay friendly”. Her daughter is going to marry her longtime girlfriend. I am not “gay friendly”. Homosexuality is a sin. Marriage is something between a hetero-cis-female and a hetero-cis-male. This puts me at odds with the majority mood of the country. It also gets me shunned by some. Outlier that I am, I’m good with that.
I wasn’t asked by God to go on annual mission trips to a nominally third-world country and put in a well or build a church or give a cinder-block home to a family that previously lived in a mud hut or be a prayer warrior against James P. Sullivan. I was asked to serve right here, in Richmond, VA, to people who live around me.
To serve those I am asked to serve it is almost assured that I’ll encounter someone doing something I think is taboo. To serve as I am asked to serve it is almost assured that I’ll be in places where the shiny teeth bunch believes I’ll be prey. I would be in good company if I reacted with horror and tried to make the folk in the scary places stop being so predatory and transgressive. Plenty do. My crowd isn’t the bunch that will quickly agree that they are doing something so macro-aggressive. More likely, we’ll punch you in the face and tell you to get the hell away from us. We don’t take kindly to being told what we already know–we are a hot mess and some of what we do causes problems for others. I’m not the one who feels fulfilled if I close another deal at the altar with another soul saved. I was asked to serve us, the problem children, the brats, the monsters under the bed. Thus, to do my job, to fulfill my call, I am going to be uncomfortable and perhaps afraid.
I also know from those I have served that my service is diminished if I bend my principles in order to be more palatable to those I serve. That’s the second part of my call. I am to remain true to Christ. He is my model. He is how I live. This means I’ll make some I serve uncomfortable because my faith conflicts with their values. So be it. If the tension created by my truth is strong enough to tempt you away from your lifestyle then maybe change is in the wind for you. It’s not what God asked me to do. I’m not the one who will hit you upside the head with a bible. I’m more subtle, more difficult. I’ll just do what I’m asked to do knowing that my service, my authenticity as a Christian may mess with you.
This too. In the places where everybody is chasing their tail trying to please everybody, offend no one, and increase freedom from distasteful rules, the strictures against what you can’t say or do are far more burdensome than places where people pretty much don’t care. These phrases are not new to those who live in these cultures: micro-aggressions, trigger warnings and cultural appropriation. These come from a crowd so wired for perceived threats that they self-incarcerate in safe-spaces that exclude everyone except those who fit a superficial profile of African-American traits–kinky hair, broad nose, thick lips, brown to dark-chocolate skin, fluent in Ebonics as a way to protect them from the dangers of those different from them. BOO!
For this crowd I am evil incarnate: WASP, from a bloodline that traces its origins to both Plymouth and Jamestown, over 30, hetero cis-male, conservative, Christian, convicted abuser and deemed racist. This is the crowd that by their choices creates the very oppression they claim to protest. The difference is the target of their discrimination, oppression and the unintended consequence of incarcerating themselves in their hate. This is why this space is the way it is. I am pugnacious because I am authentic. I am pugnacious because my values, my principles are at odds with those who claim to be for the peepul. And . . . if you can set aside all the crud you load on me without actually knowing me, you may find that my authenticity, my speaking truth to insanity, is more compassionate than locking oneself in a room to be only with those who don’t generate triggers.
My Christian brethren who obsess over darkness, who worry that it is Lucifer himself under their bed every night, and hide in the safe confines of a sanctuary doing the rosary and startling at every odd noise, these too need to calm down. They are a bit full of themselves. Too much of their prayer life is devoted to asking God for protection from him, from James P. Sullivan and his buddies. I have disappointing news for them. You are not that interesting. You taste bad to Lucifer. There are plenty of souls in his pantry far tastier. If these brethren really believe in Christ then Lucifer can’t really touch them. I’m wasting my breath, though. This paranoia over Lucifer and Sully is as pernicious a psychosis as believing that I, hot mess that I am, have an evil control over that hapless college student who happens to feel black and has yellow-brown skin and blue eyes. It takes more than a blog post for them to release their attachment to the monsters under their bed.
I’m not like that crowd huddled in a college library study room carefully allowing in only those who feel safe. I’m a lot more tolerant, patient, willing to work than that bunch. You don’t have to preface a joke with a trigger warning. You don’t have to go home and change to meet me if you are currently dressed in a pastiche of men’s & women’s clothing. Nor do you have to schedule your same-sex partner’s time around my schedule so that I don’t figure out that you mix nuts & bolts. Probably clean up the needles, pipes, bongs, roach clips & empties for me, though. Addiction is one on my naughty list. Otherwise, do you. Be you. We’ll be fine.
My core tasks are to serve all and be true. My service would be less meaningful if I back-peddled on my emulation of Christ. I can still serve you as you are. You can do the same. Here is the cool thing about this. It’s not something that requires you to be a member of my church or any church for that matter. You can come out of your safe space. You can be with us and learn that we are not micro-aggressive (more probably macro-aggressive and trigger-rich). You can drop the chains & shackles of your effort to avoid triggers. If you want to follow me, do as I do, just look around you for someone who needs a small act of kindness done with great love. Do that. Do the small act of kindness with great love. Having done it, be done with it. Don’t look over your shoulder, call the recipient, text them, poke them on FB, or Instagram or whatever. Do it and walk away with no hope of any return or influence on the outcome. Anybody can do this. Everybody should do it at least once and hopefully more than once, hopefully a lot.
I’m good with being uncomfortable. I’m in this for the long game. I don’t have to win today or even at all. I know that I am on the right side of God and eventually some I serve will turn in my direction. I know that there are plenty of my Christian brethren armed with bibles who are really good at that whack upside the head and cajole for the desired answer to the altar call. I don’t have to be comfortable. Our opposition is has no lack of brethren walking about with messenger bags holding copies of the Communist Manifesto or Mao’s Little Red Book at the ready for a similar whack upside the head and a cajole to come to a seminar on redistribution of wealth. I’ll leave the snake oil sales to those who feel that their service is through closing deals on heathens. I don’t have to sell Mao, Lenin or Cheezus to serve God. I’m no less of a Christian if you flip me off. I don’t have to be right. In the end, if it is meant to be, I’ll win anyway. If not, in the meantime.I’ve got plenty to do.