Last week something interesting happened. An activist I worked on a few projects with back between 2002 and 2008 contacted me saying they did not like my earlier blog post and the way it characterized the Liberty Counsel. I hadn’t seen or heard from this person since around 2008. When they stated, in their message, that they loved and considered me a friend, I was a little bewildered. I never realized they felt that way.
Because this person and I are no longer connected on Facebook, their message was “filtered.” Facebook doesn’t notify you of filtered messages (a problem in my opinion), I didn’t see it for over two weeks. When the message was eventually found and read (last week), I have been tempted not to respond. It had already been two weeks, and this person is a fairly high-profile conservative activist. I am not addicted to potential drama so wasn’t looking to stir up some.
The fact he took the time to send a message stuck with me. I tried avoiding thinking about it but kept feeling compelled to respond. In other situations like this, I haven’t bothered. Didn’t want to, didn’t need to. In those situations, I had no desire to be civil or polite. In those cases, the most gracious response was not to respond. However, something has changed in the past 6 or so months. Now, I do want to respond when appropriate to do so. Lately, I want to speak up and seek to end religious/cultural stigmatization of, and instead celebrate, the lives of gay people. I don’t have to respond, but I want to speak up when truly compelled to do so. I now believe I can respond from a place that is genuinely trying to be understanding and gracious. If I ever feel like my inner Sassy Randy is yelling through my keyboard, time to walk away, not respond or wait until I can see the common good again.
I did end up responding to him, and this is an excerpt from the message I sent:
Thank you for reaching out to me. I didn’t write my post to insult you. …
While I never want to be offensive for the sake of being offensive, what I wrote in the blog post you didn’t agree with is my honest opinion. I now believe our past actions on the projects we worked together on, and your continued actions against the LGBTQ community is destructive. I think the issues and methods you all have chosen to emphasize only serve to undermine true religious freedom and liberty in the name of protecting the same. I believe when we look to the letter of, or create, a man-made law to impose morality and disenfranchise our neighbor that activity is the antithesis of what I believe the Gospel is seeking to compel us to accomplish. Jesus modeled sacrifice, mercy, grace and service. He did not teach us to place our trust in government, boycotts, lawsuits or voting booths.
Someday I hope you will change your focus and steward your gifts in ways that include us as equals in policy and community. Again, I am not seeking to offend, just trying to be transparent and honest. …
He did respond a couple of days after my message. He said that he did not contact me to debate. He defended himself as not having a problem with people but does have a problem with an intolerant agenda (which he believes is against Christians). He said that the culture has deviated from clear right and wrong and that the Bible and Jesus are our “true north” for guiding public policy and personal morality.
I am paraphrasing his response in the above paragraph, but that is what I got out of what he had to say. I won’t be carrying this particular conversation with him any further, but am glad to have had the opportunity to send an initial response.
I am posting about this because I hope it offers some level of encouragement to the reader. The encouragement being that when opportunities present themselves, and we are in a good place, we assert ourselves toward making a positive difference. That we all, in the right time and way, square our shoulders and lift our chins with humility and strength to thoughtfully confront stigmatization and oppression. While this activist was upset with one paragraph in my long post, he had to read the rest of the post about my lovely evening on a fantastic date with an awesome man.
He might choose to ignore it, or force-fit my life into the narrative in his public policy driven world. But, at least for a moment, he was confronted with another real world example of someone he knows who happens to be gay; that I deserve equal protections and benefits under the law and in our culture.