Saturday, April 24, 2010

::church it up

I attended a conservative Baptist church for 27 years.
I was a volunteer youth worker for seven of those, and attended countless concerts, retreats, mission trips, and "evangelism training" events.
I went to three private Christian colleges to earn my Bachelors degree.

On the subject of the evangelical Christian subculture, I know a thing or two about a thing or two. **

Today, I have read two online interviews from Christianity Today.
One with Jennifer Knapp, who recently announced that she's gay, and one with David Bazan (former lead singer of Pedro the Lion), who has reportedly "lost his faith."

Now, I can understand the "disappointment" that will undoubtedly occur when someone was a public representative of your community, and then their words or behavior, or both, seem to suggest that they have deserted said community.
It's not surprising, and it's only natural.

What I cannot abide is the pervasive attitude I have encountered on countless occasions, of Christians affecting an air of superiority, almost arrogance, when interacting with those whom they deem "prodigal children."

Often, if a Christian begins asking raw, vulnerable questions, it's almost as if a State of Emergency is declared.

"Oh no! She's really GAY?! She has a GIRLFRIEND? I thought she was a CHRISTIAN!"

"Oh, jeez...he's not even sure there's a GOD anymore? What on Earth do we DO?"

And my, oh my, whatever shall we do?

How about, we listen?
We do our very best to empathize with these precious souls' undoubtedly painful processes.
We force ourselves to become vulnerable and admit that we, too, have sometimes felt (*GASP!*) a little unsure.
We admit - however begrudgingly - that we may have unanswered questions fluttering about inside our brains as well.
We dismantle our fears by freely confessing them to each other.

And we trust that God is not averse to our candor.
In fact, we remind each other that He invites it.

**[Several years ago, I recorded (on VHS, kickin' it old-school) an interview with Amy Grant on 20/20, wherein she said "I think the true heart of God is wild and passionate and everything creative. Of course, we just barely scratch the surface of that because we're human.
But frankly, I sometimes feel grossed out by the ways in which we try to package that and sell it to people."

AMEN, sister! ]


Soniasurfing said...

Been there, done that, and I WHOLEHEARTEDLY agree with your sentiments. Well said, my friend.....

ZSB said...

This seems to me an incomplete response (maybe a case of the pendulum swinging to the other side)... So we listen and nod...and then what? Doesn't that sort of validate one's loss of faith?

This is a difficult issue...

On another note, did you notice how no one batted an eye when Ray Boltz came out? Ya know, because he's Ray Boltz?

Anastasia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anastasia said...

Sonia - I'm SO glad you can relate, and thank you so much for the kind words, they really mean a lot to me!

Zach -
As far as your question of, "...then what?"
I don't have an answer.
You're right, it IS a difficult issue.
I don't see listening and/or empathizing as a validation of their loss of faith, just an expression of love and acceptance.
That's as far as I've progressed.

I never heard about Ray Boltz! I'm Googling it now.

Erin said...

What this makes me think of is how when people "fall from grace" in the public eye that so often people treat them as though they are somehow less talented. Disregarding questions about belief, doubt, and morality, does "coming out" negate Jennifer Knapp's talent? Absolutely not. Her faith and sexuality are issues for her and God to work out, with plenty of help and love from her family and friends, people she knows on a personal level. The public will not be much help in the matter, I predict. But, like Zach, I do think that true friends and brothers and sisters in the faith will go beyond the listening stage (after spending some time there, of course) and go on to help try to restore their sister in love.

Patricia said...

And what does "restore their sister in love" mean?

ZSB said...

Clearly, to "restore" a brother or sister who has fallen away or fallen into a life of sin, means to disciple them and help lead them to repentance and inclusion in the church (see 2 Cor 2:6-8). Pretty standard biblical language.

mediamogul said...

Hi Stacey

Great post. Well, any post that quotes Amy Grant is great in my books:)

There is a great interview online with Ray Boltz. It was taken from the Washington Blade I think. The Blade is a gay newspaper. I found a link on Ray's website I think.

I'm looking forward to hearing Jennifer's music that comes out May 11. The little I have heard online makes me think it is her best music yet.



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