Love Is Not Being A Jerk to Your Friends

First off, I want to say thank you to all of you readers who helped make my book release week awesome. It was so great to see your tweets and your emails about how excited you were to get the book. And thank you, as well, to those of you who tuned in to hear me on John Fugelsang’s Tell Me Everything on Tuesday. I believe this conversation is needed and people are thirsty for it.

That said, today, I’d like to talk to you about love.

There’s been a conversation stirring in the church for a long while about what it looks like to love your neighbor when your neighbor is a member of the LGBT community. I get asked, by well meaning conservatives, what that love looks like when your theology dictates that who someone is, is sin.

The problem, in my eyes, is with the question itself. I’ve seen this conversation play out over and over in straight, cisgender, conservative spaces, with no input from actual queer people about how to love us. There’s this constant, ongoing struggle where everyone at the table looks, talks and acts the same, and then they wonder how to love people they haven’t even invited into the room.

When I was nineteen, I was a total jerk. A friend of mine from high school came out as bisexual – or rather, I lurked on her blog and discovered she was out at her school. She was in a relationship with a man at that point. He was a lapsed Catholic. I asked for his contact info, and his first encounter with his new love’s friend? Was a raging instant message conversation in which I implored him to take care of her spiritually and to turn her away from her sin.

Like I said, I was a jerk. And for years, I thought this was perfectly normal, acceptable behavior – because I had God on my side. Because I was “right.” Because the fact that people stopped wanting to talk to me was a badge of honor I wore proudly – those “unbelievers” simply couldn’t bear to hear the truth in love.

And it took me years of broken relationships, of irreparable damage to others before I finally realized that what I’d been told all my life was “loving” was, in fact, hurtful, damaging bullshit.

I remember, in my youth group growing up, being fond of the idea that Christianity was an upside down kingdom, that it was counter-cultural to go against the prevailing hedonism and secularism by being “holy” and “pure” and “righteous.” That it was somehow loving to position myself as superior, as a bestower and conduit of Jesus’ supposed love for the sinner. All the while, I was berating and demeaning and dehumanizing those for whom Jesus had died.

One thing that these experiences taught me is that it’s very dangerous to ever operate as though you have the entire world figured out. People are complex and complicated and act in unexpected, surprising ways. The miracle of God’s creation is that it is vast and complex and never in simple black and white.

I turn 29 next Saturday. It’s a weird age for me because I can no longer fudge and say I’m in my mid-to-late 20s. I’m solidly in my late 20s, almost thirty years old. And with this age comes a growing knowledge that I know nothing – there are still many things I don’t know and many things I have to learn and seeking after truth with an open mind is more important now than it ever was.

We must never be willing to think we have our minds made up. The road to being a jerk is paved with made up minds.

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