Culture War! Just Stop It!

Joe Dallas, ex-gay author and speaker, will be presenting a conference, Speaking of Homosexuality with Compassion and Truth, at our local Southern Baptist mega-church this weekend. Some folks in our LGBTQ community are planning a silent vigil near the church during the conference as a means of local LGBTQ visibility and as an expression of opposition to the ideas and beliefs espoused by Mr. Dallas and the host church. I am conflicted as to whether I will participate in the vigil.

I am weary! I am bone tired of this “culture war” and the religious and political struggle inherent in it. I want to scream, “Stop it! Just stop it!” Regardless of which side of this issue one might come down on, just stop the divisive, demonizing, demeaning, and denouncing rhetoric. Stop the protest and confrontations. Why do we publicly battle over something as private and personal as one’s sexuality? One’s sexuality and gender expression is a matter solely between the person and his/her God. The sexuality or gender identity/expression of another person is not my business nor concern. 

My concern is for one’s well being — do they have enough to eat, do they have a safe place to live, do they have a family/community that gives them a sense of belonging and love. My concern is for one’s character – do they show love, kindness, patience, joy, goodness, faithfulness, honesty, and peace.  

My concern is for one’s life – are they able to live a meaningful life knowing the love and support of family, friends, and community, freely exercising their faith tradition, participating in purposeful, satisfying work, contributing to the common good, and engaging in all the rights, privileges, and responsibilities our nation offers.

Why not declare this “culture war” at a stalemate and call a truce? As long as battles to “win” the war continue, we all lose. We continue to beat up one another in a battle that will never be “won.” There will never be agreement one way or the other! Can’t we just keep our opinions and beliefs regarding sexuality issues to ourselves and live in a manner that respects the dignity and sacredness of every individual’s life, life journey, and where one might be in that journey. 

I respect Mr. Dallas’s life and his life journey. Honestly, our journeys were somewhat parallel thirty years ago. I purported to be ex-gay and desired to help those struggling with same-sex attraction. However, through various God encounters, my journey has taken me in a different direction. In no uncertain terms my God assures me of the sacredness of my life, and the sacrament of my relationships. Most especially my eighteen–year covenant relationship with my wife—three of those years legally married. It appears that we don’t all have the same road map. I take issue, as I believe Mr. Dallas does, with expecting or coercing anyone to change and use another’s roadmap.

The fact that we have allowed this “culture war” to become politicized has deepened the trenches. The various court rulings, established laws, and pending legislation that target the already marginalized and vulnerable LGBTQ community have polarized our communities even more. One would think we might have learned from the prohibition era that it does not bode well when government seeks to legislate regarding what is perceived a moral issue. A particularly disturbing aspect of these legislative proposals is the discrimination/denial of services that would be allowed on the basis of “one’s sincerely held religious beliefs.” Ugh! That’s a conundrum for me! I am not a theologian, but I simply don’t recall Jesus excluding or denying his presence or service to anyone.  Perhaps all of us with sincerely held religious beliefs need to ask ourselves, “What would Jesus do?”

I still don’t know what to do about the conference and silent vigil! I do know that I am exhausted and weary of this “war.”  Should I participate in the silent vigil in solidarity with my LGBTQ community? That’s important to me, yet I don’t want to draw added attention to the “battle lines.” Maybe I will go to the conference to listen and show respect for those attending and their beliefs — “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” (Matthew 7:12) Whatever I do, I desire to live in the wisdom of Romans 12:18 and “as much as it is in me to live peaceably with all men.”   

Posted on April 26, 2019, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I feel you, it is exhausting, but it’s even more exhausting to live under constant hatred and attack, which is why I think we need to keep showing our support for the LGBTQ (or Black, or Immigrant) communities. If we have the privilege to be able to turn away, then it is our responsibility to show up. Now, let me step down off my high horse – because I’m genuinely curious (and not judging any decision you made!) about what you chose to do.

  2. Thanks, Annie, for your Follow and your comment and question. I did go to the conference, but before I did I visited with both the organizers of the conference and the counter demonstration to learn their intent for each of the events. I have personally known both of these folks for years. They are good folks. The organizer for the counter demonstration wanted a peaceful presence of out LGBTQ+ community standing in opposition to the traditional LGBTQ+ message of the church. The organizer of the conference wanted to offer participants caring and compassionate means and ways of dialoguing and maintaining relationship with LGBTQ+ loved ones.
    The conference content was much what the LGBTQ+ community has heard for decades from the conservative church; however, the manner of presentation was much more caring and compassionate. Based on the questions at the conclusion, it was obvious that my wife and I were not the only LGBTQ+ folks and allies in the building!
    During a conference break we chatted with the organizer. After the conference we went by for a visit and hugs with the “protesters.” I perceive attending the conference as a door to opening and continuing dialogue between the LGBTQ+ community and the church in encouraging softer tones and relationships as we seek commonalities, even as we disagree on various issues.
    I always pose the question: What is our need — to be right or to be in relationship? In my thinking, being in relationship is much more satisfying and every relationship has the potential for sacrament — being a portal of grace one to another.

    I tried to Follow your blog, but was unsuccessful. Either I or the technology was not working properly. Any suggestions.

    Regards,
    Brenda — Pilgrim, Seeker, Heretic

    • Open dialog, especially with such opposing viewpoints, is so important. Kudos to the conference organizers! Thanks for sharing your experience in such detail. I’m going to remember that “to be right or to be in a relationship” idea, I feel it is one that would serve me in my marriage well, lol. As for the follow, it looks like you did it right, you’re coming up on my end! Looking forward to ongoing conversations. 🙂

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