A couple years ago, I went to a wedding of a seminary buddy of mine in North Carolina. I was just on the heels of seeing a friend of mine come to faith in Christ who was a homosexual. In my excitement I told a lady at this church that I had shared Christ with this gay man, that I had hung out in his neighborhood and had met his lover and friends. She looked at me with utter horror and asked, “Why would you do that?”
I didn’t even know what to say to that. I was saddened, I was hurt and then I started to understand the amount of antagonism that those in the gay community have felt when it comes to Christians. I got it, if just for a moment.
When I started to write this book, I started thinking that there would be this amazing transformation of one gay man to become an evangelical Christian. I thought the gay community would read this and repent completely from their sin and run to the savior. Turns out that this is not how this book was meant to be read. I think the audience is the church and how she needs to emulate the church in this story. Sure it was just one man, but it was the one time, that the church showed up every day and was Jesus to a man who questioned her motives, her heart, and her truth.
I edited out the more sordid parts of Don’s language—but there were some parts of this book that might make you cringe, vomit, or shake your head. It gets real. I’m not sure if the evangelical world is prepared for real, but here it is. I’m not trying to just shock you, I want you to know there are people out there that you know that are hurting and are trapped by sin. Some of it was their own choosing, sure, and they are paying the consequences of that. They need a rescue. They need someone to redeem their lives that they would clearly say have been wasted.
Problem is we don’t want to get dirty—sometimes rightfully so. Many of us watch others go through struggles that we faced and going back there is too hard, the temptation too great. But the reality is the evangelical world became separate. In a desire to be in the world, but not of the world, we became out of this world unrelatable—we have the Christian gyms, coffee shops, and schools. We have Christian shows and music. All of these things are awesome God honoring endeavors, but if you live in these environments for very long you forget what lost people are like and then when you see them, you have lost the ability to hold a conversation.
I always wondered what Jesus and the tax collectors talked about. I wonder if they talked about organizing the next Torah study or if Jesus listened to their lives. I’ll bet some of them tried to shock Jesus so that he could reject them just like every other religious person. I’m sure that at first Jesus had to deal with some conversations that would never take place among civilized Torah studying folks. I always wondered what made Jesus so attractive to them.
Maybe he healed some of them, but the Bible doesn’t talk about Jesus healing or doing miracles with the tax collectors or prostitutes. Jesus hung out with them and they changed. Maybe that was the greater miracle. What if someone did that today? Ever since I left the Army where there are a lot of lost people I was confronted by a church that seemed to be too busy doing church things to hang out with lost people. They wanted to make the church so attractive that a lost person couldn’t help but rush in. I love that—but how many prostitutes and tax collectors do you know are looking for a church to rush to. Right or wrong, the church has gotten the reputation that we have too many things going on to have dinner and party with sinners.
I mean when was the last time your pastor had lunch at Hooters? Yep, I went there. For the most part you were right there with me until I said, ‘Hooters.’ Why not Chili’s or somewhere suburban and a little less tacky? Well, you haven’t shared Christ there either. But where did Jesus go to lunch with tax collectors? Where did Jesus go to hang out with prostitutes—Olive Garden? I think that is the point. You are offended because we have got to protect our church people from becoming tainted by the world. I think that is what I want you to see. The people that work and eat at Hooters don’t know any church people. The people in the Oak Lawn or “Gay” area of Dallas don’t have Christians hanging out with their Bible there. They just get the worldview that Christians are crazy and we all need Obamacare. Can you blame them? Who would tell them otherwise?
Usually the people that are emboldened to go where sinners are—are the ones that don’t need to be there. The ones that have solid lives for Jesus have isolated themselves to the point the rest of the world doesn’t know they exist. How are they going to know the church, if the church doesn't go and eat with them. This isn’t about Hooters—this is about engaging our culture.
Jesus Christ died on the cross for the sin of man and rose from the dead so that we could have a relationship with Him forever. God’s compassion surpasses all things and His love is more powerful than sin. The church for the longest time has missed it. We have been the ones blundering opportunity after opportunity to show and shine God’s love into the darkness.
I think you will agree that the church got it right with one man. You will see God’s compassion from people in the church to those people who’d never darken the door.
When I sat down with Don to write about our interaction, he hoped that we would reach the church. He hoped that those on the right wing would be able to see the real gay culture for what it is and for what it isn’t. Just as he had to explain to his own community that Christians are not the Westboro Baptist Church people protesting military funerals, he wanted you to get to know the good, bad, and the ugly of his life, which is why he insisted on this being written.
Some of the chapters are written from my first person point of view, others are written from a 3rd person standing over Don’s shoulder point of view. Some of the names have been changed to protect the innocent. I think you can figure it out.
After reading this, I hope that join me in the conversation at www.islovewrong.com.