It feels like I have known Justin Lee since he was a toddler! Seriously, we “met” online in 1996 (’97?) via an old-school discussion forum type thing called Bridges Across the Divide (BA). It is no longer available on the Internet… but there is an archived copy of one of the BA pages. BA is the origin of the underlying premise of the various “sides” at the foundation of the Gay Christian Network (GCN) that Justin founded sixteen years ago.
Last week a decision was announced that Justin would be leaving GCN to pursue his interests and passions. Also, GCN’s board is going to take the organization in a new (and different?) direction.
In my ex-gay ministry days, I had some unfortunate things to say about GCN and I regret that. I have always liked Justin but we never were very close. I say that only because I have no idea what is going on behind the scenes except what he and the GCN board and staff have said publicly. I also mention this because this post is not about gossip and conspiracy theories about what did and will happen; my interest is in the aftermath of the announcements, where they are headed and am concerned about some of the pain I am seeing in the comments.
I am glad the majority of comments are gracious and seeking to understand. Plenty of anger is to be had as well, and that is dangerous if left unheard and not responded too in some fashion. Believe me, from some rather dramatic experience!… it is so tempting to just let the chips fly and dust settle before being really assertive in healthy ways. But, from my limited perspective, there is a lot of pain and it needs to be processed well with strong leadership. Wounding pain (triggered old ones or new wounds) can tear at the foundation of a situation. Wounding pain is destructive. Redemptive pain is constructive and healing. Redemptive pain (acknowledging, identifying, treating and healing pain) is the needed focus. I would imagine that the GCN board and staff are already settled into that kind of understanding when considering the hurt and pain they are hearing.
In a nutshell: hurt people can hurt people unless the hurt one is listened to, recognized, triaged and guided toward healing. Anyone who has ever had a literal physical wound knows that sometimes the healing part of that is what can hurt the most; we do it because it is moving toward restoration and health. It takes courage and bravery, even more so the deeper the wound.
That said, hurt is hurt, yes. Grief is grief, yes. But, GCN is full of talented people who can do more than two things at once. I pray (yes, literally) the organization always remembers to be Christ and “other-centered” first, always. If they remain true to that, they will not miss a beat in GCN’s important work. There is ministry to hurt and confused people, in this situation and as a whole, that needs to happen. I am greatly encouraged that a very large majority of GCN and Justin supporters are genuinely trying to understand and support both Justin and GCN. I hope GCN and Justin both continue to respond in life-giving ways to them and to each other.
Personally, I think Justin is amazing and really do hope he has a wonderful future as an author/speaker/minister. He’s always been honest and gracious with me and I look forward to his gifts and talents continuing to bless and help God’s LGBTQ+ children.