This is not an easy post to write. I love people. (Well, most people. I should love all people, but a couple are just the other side of impossible, you know?) I have this awesome privilege of hearing people’s stories all day long – of bringing those stories to the attention of a large audience. I’m going to do that here.
And some people might feel hurt by this story.
That’s not easy to think about.
But this story matters. Not just because it’s true, but also because hearing it opens a door of freedom and relief for people.
People who are wrestling hard with the urge to love someone of the same sex.
I love people, regardless of whom they’re drawn to love. I especially love artists. Humans who create are a mysterious community, full of emotion and passion and ability that I can get lost in exploring. When I’m with creators, I know the Creator more.
A few months ago, I had a conversation with a friend. He is married to his best friend, who is also my friend. I love them both. I think they’re intelligent, cool, fun, clever people who love Jesus. We were discussing their involvement with a major project I lead.
He asked me, “So, we need to talk about the obvious elephant in the room. Before we get too far into this, is us being gay going to be a problem?”
I really hate that the question needed to be asked, even while I appreciated him for bringing it up. “Look,” I answered, “if you’re asking me about the rightness or wrongness of homosexuality, I have to tell you that my read of the scripture doesn’t leave me believing it’s allowed. I just can’t find that anywhere. I find the opposite. But I also know I don’t know everything and we disagree on this and I respect you. I also read scripture to say gluttony is wrong, but that doesn’t preclude me from being in relationship and doing ministry alongside fat people.”
“I appreciate that,” he said. “But I don’t think you’re going to run into that attitude with some of the supporters of this project. Our involvement could cost you.”
I sighed. “Walking out our faith is hard. At least, it is for me. I appreciate a lot of grace from people who give me wisdom when I ask and then give me room to find the wisdom when necessary. I want to give that here and I want to get that here. With everyone involved. Okay?”
We talked for a while longer. I hung up. My heart hurt.
Fast forward to the present. To an email from a colleague asking if I’d be interested in helping with a new film called Sing Over Me. “I would,” I said. “Send me a link to watch it.”
I watched the film.
Dennis Jernigan has written hundreds of songs that we sing often in church. “We Will Worship the Lamb of Glory”, “Thank You”, Great is the Lord Almighty”, and “You Are My All in All” are just a few. He is married. A father of 9.
But he also tried to end his life early on because of an inability to deal with same-sex attraction.
I cried watching Dennis’s story because it is real. It is raw. It highlights how we Christians have so mis-directed and polarized the conversation that we actually damage and demonize people who have same-sex desires. We hurt when we should offer hope.
It is the right way to talk about this kind of story.
Not from meanness. Not from ostracizing people. Not from identifying someone based on one behavior. Not from any place other than, “This is my story. This is my walk of faith.”
This is the story of a creator, loving his Creator.