Yesterday, I decided to challenge Dr. Michael L. Brown on Twitter, because he posted a harmful article that hurts my LBGTQIAPLUS siblings. He has a large following on Twitter, and claims to be a faith leader. His bio says: Jewish believer in Jesus; author; radio host; activist; professor; preacher; husband; father; grandfather. Newest book is: Jezebel’s War with America. Can I just say, his latest book will probably make me pull my hair out? Misogyny is screaming in that title. His tweets are less than gracious, and the tone of his followers reflects his tone. Our tone as leaders matters. Theology is life or death – in this world, not just the next.
Anyway, he was upset California wants to pass a bill, ACR 99, forbidding pastors from denouncing the LGBTQIAPLUS community. A measure to promote affirmation of a community that has been marginalized and hurt by the faith community. Of course he pulled the Religious Liberties are at stake.
I told him this bill is not government tyranny. Government tyranny is at our border. And this is a measure where government is doing its job. If the churches are not going to get it together, and a community suffers for it; then government will step in. Church needs a check just as much as the government does. And I told him his take on this is far more dangerous than government asking people to affirm the humanity of all. Religious Liberties is not for discrimination!
Of course I am met with thank you for my thoughts, and for writing as gently as possible (I did say I was writing as gently as I could), but God is our authority, and we can love people without having to affirm their lifestyle. Typical response, and his followers were excited to back him up. I asked if we could dialogue-and I knew it was a long shot – and as expected I could see no chance we were going to bear good fruit. I will say the conversation was never hateful towards me.
He was disappointed when I told him this was not going to be a fruitful dialogue. But then a lady responded backing him up, and she has a child active in that lifestyle (I hate when people say that lifestyle, but those were her words-I just call it love). This caught my attention. I asked her questions about why she thinks she has to choose between God’s word and her child. We talked a bit longer, but it bore no fruit either-but I hope someone who needed to know christians care saw this conversation. I hope this mother will consider her child does need her mom and dad’s affirmation-doesn’t look likely today. This is why it is important we challenge faith leaders. He is leading a mother to believe she has to reject her child in order to be faithful to God’s word.
Let me back up a bit. I have not always been affirming, but I have never been against either. I have had friends from this community for almost my whole life. I have been blessed by their friendship. The only reason I wasn’t affirming was because church doctrine was stuck in my head, but I was never told to reject-convert-or not be friends with them. Praise God for that. Justin Lee’s book, “Torn”, literally tore down the walls around my heart -and it was the best feeling ever. I wanted to stop saying: I love you, but….I am grateful they remained friends with me even then, and now I can repent and tell them I love them without reservation.
There was an episode of Chopped (HGTV ) that I watched a few years back. One of the cooks was a lesbian who basically was on the show hoping her parents would see her and be proud. They disconnected from her when she came out. When I witnessed her tears; I knew God was not asking us to do this. I wanted to reach out and hug her and tell her I love her. I am proud of her.
I wish I could have talked to the mother yesterday in person. I wanted to share stories like this with her, and tell her she doesn’t have to do this. Dr. Brown commented one time in our convo, and I asked him: What if you are wrong, Dr. Brown? No more comments.
The fruit of affirmation has been life. That is all I need to know, and my soul is free because of it. No one wants to hold back love. It is a prison. I wasn’t even as opposed as so many people are, and I could feel so much more freedom after Justin Lee’s book. I was affirming without question, and it felt so good to say it proudly. We are miserable withholding love. Love creates space. We don’t always have to understand. God can handle what we don’t know. We get to just Love God and Love People. Jesus made it easy for us.
The problem I was having discussing was due to everyone chiming in asking me about scripture. One thing I am not going to do-eve- is use scripture to prove God loves someone. I just know. And I was pissed when I had to witness, and I still do, men pulling out their Bibles trying to decide if God loves women-and how God uses us. Nope! That is not the life-giving breath of scripture. That is how you destroy a good word. Make God seem discriminatory.
Also, saying you don’t affirm stealing – or any other criminal act- as a lifestyle is not the same thing. Theft and vandalism are not who people are. R.C. Sprout compared women to vandals-saying our pain is leading us to want to be preachers, and it is secular values making us want these positions. Yuck! No. Please stop comparing human lives God adores to criminal acts.
Certainty of scripture is a drug, and that will always be our interpretation-the Bible is not clear on a lot of subjects. I could have used a lot of scripture to rebuke what they were saying, but this is where I will say Twitter is not the platform for that. I was only hoping to disrupt. I hope I did. We need to humanize people every chance we get. We need to hold faith leaders who are spreading harmful theology of people that literally kills them to account.
When I was down, scripture breathed life back into me, but not because I decided to obey. Scripture told me a love story. Jesus’s life was a counter-narrative to Caesar. He challenged doctrinal purity. He did not say scripture was not important, but we need wisdom. The story still moves and breathes. We are not dumping the old, but we are making room for new wine in new wineskins. We evolve. Transformation is essential to our faith. The Bible still speaks even now, and that is astounding to me. We need to have ears to hear the good story that is being told for EVERYBODY. If it isn’t good news for LGBTQIAPLUS – then it isn’t good news. Jesus’s life demonstrates it is good news for everybody.