an open letter to Christians from the younger generation

Posted: April 9, 2013 in bad science, believing, fundamentalism, gay rights
Tags: , , , , ,

One of my favorite bloggers, Danika Nash (no relation!) wrote this.  I wish I had written it.  Please read this if you’re young.  Please read this if you’re older.  Please read this if you’re a church-goer.  Please read this if you’re not.  


I got to go to the Macklemore concert on Friday night. If you want to hear about how images-97that went, ask me, seriously, I want to talk about it until I die. The whole thing was great; but the best part was when Macklemore sang “Same Love.” Augustana’s gym was filled to the ceiling with 5,000 people, mostly aged 18-25, and decked out in thrift store gear (American flag bro-tanks, neon Nikes, MC Hammer pants. My Cowboy boyfriend wore Cowboy boots…not ironically….). The arena was brimming with excitement and adrenaline during every song, but when he started to play “Same Love,” the place about collapsed. Why? While the song is popular everywhere, no one, maybe not even Macklemore, feels its true tension like we do in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. If you’re not familiar, here’s the song:


Stop–did you watch it? Watch it.

Before the song, Macklemore spoke really simple words along the lines of: “Hey, you can all have your own opinions on how we treat gay people in this country, but this is mine.” And I held my breath in anticipation of some kind of uproar or walk-out…but the crowd cheered louder than they had yet. In our red state, in our conservative little city, the 5,000 young people in that arena wanted to hear about marriage equality.

During the song, almost every person at the concert had their hands up and their eyes closed…it reminded me of church. The whole crowd spoke every word with Macklemore. We were thirsty for those words. We want to hear about equality and love in a gentle way. We’re sick of the harsh words of both sides. Say what you want about my generation, but we can smell fake from a mile away. This rapper from Seattle had brought us truth in song form, and we all knew it. I live in such a conservative bubble that I couldn’t believe the crowd’s positive, thankful reaction. But I shouldn’t images-98have been surprised. No one knows the tension of that song like my generation in South Dakota does. So many of us were brought up in churches and Christian homes, and even if we weren’t, we’ve experienced the traditional Christian culture that just resonates from South Dakota’s prairie land. We know conservatism; we know tradition. But we also have Twitter, we watch SNL, we listen to Macklemore, and we read Tina Fey. We’re more in touch with the rest of the country than the Midwest has ever been. Some of us love the church and some of us hate it, but there aren’t too many people for whom it’s irrelevant. So when Macklemore takes on that tension with his poetry, his South Dakota audience listened. We practically yelled with him when he spoke the lyrics:

“When I was at church, they taught me something else: if you preach hate at the service, those words aren’t anointed. That holy water that you soak in has been poisoned.”

We yelled because we knew that holy water too well. We knew that hateful preaching too well. We had all been hurt by it in one way or another.

My point in writing this isn’t to protect gay people. Things are changing—the world isimages-99 becoming a safer place for my gay friends. They’re going to get equal rights. I’m writing this because I’m worried about the safety of the Church. The Church keeps scratching its head, wondering why 70% of 23-30 year-olds who were brought up in church leave. I’m going to offer a pretty candid answer, and it’s going to make some people upset, but I care about the Church too much to be quiet. We’re scared of change. We always have been. When scientists proposed that the Earth could be moving through space, church bishops condemned the teaching, citing Psalm 104:5 to say that God “set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved.” But the scientific theory continued, and the Church still exists. I’m saying this: we cannot keep pitting the church against humanity, or progress. DON’T hear me saying that we can’t fight culture on anything. Lots of things in culture are absolutely contradictory to love and equality, and we should be battling those things. The way culture treats women, or pornography? Get AT that, church. I’ll be right there with you. But my generation, the generation that can smell bullshit, especially holy bullshit, from a mile away, will not stick around to see the church fight gay marriage against our better judgment. It’s my generation who is overwhelmingly supporting marriage equality, and Church, as a young person and as a theologian, it is not in your best interest to give them that ultimatum.

My whole life, I’ve been told again and again that Christianity is not conducive with homosexuality. It just doesn’t work out. I was forced to choose between the love I had for my gay friends and so-called biblical authority. I chose gay people, and I’m willing to wager I’m not the only one. I said, “If the Bible really says this about gay people, I’m not too keen on trusting what it says about God.” And I left my church. It has only been lately that I have seen evidence that the Bible could be saying something completely different about love and equality.

So, my advice to you, the Church: if you’re looking for some intelligent biblical liberal opinions on the subject, have a little coffee chat with your local Methodist or Episcopal pastor. Christians can beall about gay people, it’s possible. People do it every day with a clear biblical conscience. Find out if you think there’s truth in that view before you sweep us under the rug. You CAN have a conservative view on gay marriage, or gay ordination. You can. But I want you to have some serious conversations with God, your friends that disagree with you, and maybe even some gay people, Christians or not, before you decide that this one view is worth marginalizing my generation. Weigh those politics against what you’re giving up: us. We want to stay in your churches, we want to hear about your Jesus, but it’s hard to hear about love from a God who doesn’t love our gay friends (and we all have gay friends). Help us find love in the church before we look for it outside.

Oh, and can we please please PLEASE stop changing our Facebook profile pictures to crosses in a protest against gay marriage? You are taking a symbol of hope and redemption and using it to make a political point. No matter what you think, that has to stop. It’s a misrepresentation of what that symbol means.


A College Kid Who Misses You

  1. Steve says:

    I found this blog that goes through the original Greek and makes an incredibly articulate and compelling case for support of gay marriage from a theological standpoint.

  2. Torger Helgeland says:

    I’ve felt some of that sentiment, the strong sense that to be anti homosexuality is narrow minded and missing God’s heart. It’s VERY troubling to me, because it feels so real. But I refuse to close my eyes to the other side. There are people who are not comfortable with their same sex attraction, who, usually as christians, sense it’s not right down deep, and who actually do relate to the old views of homosexuality being caused by hurts/traumas early in life. And to refuse to see what appears to be obvious evidence of this seems ridiculous to me. Bottom line: Human society is facing a dilemma that is shaping up to be too big for it. The Jack Nicholson charactaerr is staring us down and taunting “You can’t handle the truth!” and the truth is that Homosexuality is a much more troubling mess than we care to admit, or it’s completely the thing traditional Chrisianity has said it is: an unnatural deviation and a sin in practice. I don’t have the conviction nor the guts to say it’s the latter, but it’s at least the former. Maybe some people are so predisposed to same sex attraction that God could smile upon a monogamous coupling, but no way are all so, and the messy issue , at least, is how do we face acknowledging that this is true, and that it implies that blind homo-happy-ism needs to stop for the good of many individuals and society. Why not a compassionate look into the possibility that an individual has markers in their past for sexual identity confusion, with the door open to determining that they don’t and therefore leave well enough alone. Why is this not considered as a counter balance to society’s going beyond the “born this way” mantra and into pan sexual behavior as a style choice? What do we make of Madonna and Brittney Spears, or Mick Jagger and Keith Richards smooching or tonguing each other. No one gets all uppity and wonders ” Are they gay?? We didn”t know! Did they just come out?” No, it seems clear enough that they’re just making the point that they’re free, that they can and will do as they please as a statement against confining, soul limiting tradition. OK, fine, but did you enjoy it? How? I thought one had to be born that way and that there’s no changing it. So what’s going on? Why is this not party spirit, that ever searching want for something new that needs no rationale, only the cool factor? Seems to me the Bible does speak to some of this quite insightfully, and somebody needs to say so. Torg

  3. Troy Smalley says:

    As a 26 year old Christian, I am ashamed that so many of my generation uncritically hold views such as the idea that God sanctifies the union of 2 members of the same sex. If you think that thr old canard about us not having to eat shellfish is enough to stump traditional and orthodox theologians, I suggest you study Koine Greek, study the Jewish and Christian understanding of the various sections of the Holiness Code, and explain why you think we do not keep the law regarding shellfish? You see, we do keep the New Covenant form of that law. Clean and unclean foods denoted the distinction between the Israelites as God’s sanctified people, and Gentiles who are not. In the New Covenant, Gentiles are grafted into the people of God, and thus all people are clean or ‘kosher’. The distinstion now exists between the people of God, and the World. We are.called to come and live out from the world, setting ourselves apart from it, and unto Christ. The Old Covenant regulation contained both Adamic and redemptive aspects. Whereas the.redemptivr aspect is changed from salvation from slavery in Egypt, to salvation from sin and death, the Adamic aspect remains. Thus, the laws against forms of sexual sin remain, such as laws.against: Bestiality; Incest; Homosexuality; Adultery; Lust.

    Whereas the traditional hermeneutic is consistent in umderdtanding the Adamic and therefore continuing nature of these laws, some so called believers in Christ condemn all of these laws except for that concerning homosexuality.

    Suppose one wants to be ‘for’ homosexuals and ‘not for’ the Bible. Such a person can only be so if he/she is ‘not for’ Jesus. Jesus viewed thr Bible to have the authority of God. You are free to reject the Bible, but please do not pretend to be a follower of Jesus.

    I write this because I love homosexuals. If a man were to walk unknowingly into oncoming traffic, it would be unloving to share the truth with him. To not share the danger of particular sins with our brothers and sisters, is to fail to love them. Therefore, I would plead with you to think deeply about what you write, because love demands that we care for each other — not merely to placate each others feelings.

    • Chris says:

      Well said Troy. It is sad to see how so many quickly jettison unchanging biblical truth in the name of love. Yet they forget that the one who showed us what love is, in his death and resurrection for sinners, clearly defined biblical marriage as monogamous-heterosexual-covenantal union. In that one clear authoritative definition he thus condemns all other views as outside of God’s intended purpose for creation. I’ve heard and read the so-called appeals to the NT Greek and OT Hebrew as not speaking against same-sex unions and such appeals are vacuous and demonstrations of abusive eisegesis. Those who truly love you will tell you the most truth. Therefore if we truly love our homosexual and lesbian neighbors we will appeal to them to repent and be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ.

  4. Anonymous says:

    A simplistic view from a country boy

    To be equal means to be the same.

    The only way to achieve a sameness is through Christ and obedience of his word

    Leviticus 20:13

    Before you all stop reading I would like to put this out there that in your salvation you accepted your love and will to follow Jesus as the saviour. That is often not an instant transformation. loving christ is the first step. Obedience to his word is something we all strive for every day to be more christlike. We must absolve ourselfs of our sins. it is only a sins to “lie with ” in a biblical sense so is it considered to be celibete and gay as OK?. I doubt it however some people cling on to that.

    Should we give all sinners equal rights?

    should murderes be allowed freedom to live there lives as the innocent.

    Equality is not something that allocated to groups it is something that comes to individuals by conforming.

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