Upcoming Synchroblog: Bridging the Gap

profile pic.jpgFor the past month or two, I’ve been following the Bridging the Gap
blog.  I’ve also been publicly commenting there and privately
conversing with Wendy Gritter, the woman primarily behind the blog. 
Wendy is a wonderful woman and I’ve been blessed with her friendship.

A while back, Wendy told me about a synchroblog that New Direction and the BTG Project are sponsoring on June 24.  The press release for the event describes the event as follows:

New
Direction has been seeking to foster safe and generous space for
authentic conversation about faith and sexuality. We have committed
ourselves to building bridges. But we cannot do it alone. We need other
Christ-followers: gay and straight and everything in between, to speak
up and join the conversation, to share the heart of the gospel in the
midst of this conflict. We need those beyond the walls of the church:
gay and straight and everything in between, to speak up and join the
conversation, to share their thoughts on how the church can reach
across the divide and build bridges.

In light of her desire to get people of all walks of life
to join in the conversation, Wendy has asked me to participate in this
synchroblog.  As a friend and someone who believes that this dialogue
is an important one, I have graciously (at least I hope I’ve been
gracious about it) accepted her invitation.  I would like to invite any
of my other readers — regardless of sexual orientation or religious
persuasion — to also participate in this event.  It’s only through the
addition of a multitude of voices that a real dialogue — or rather a
harmony of related dialogues — can emerge.

Some may wonder why
I would choose to participate in such a dialogue or encourage others to
do so.  After all, they reason, it’s clear why Christians would wish to
engage in this dialogue in order to gain converts — though I
personally do not believe that’s the only reason Christians choose to
enter into this dialogue.  But what possible reason could a
non-Christian — especially one who has been hurt by Christians in the
past — have for entering into such a dialogue?  What do I hope to gain
from it?

Surprisingly,
the question contains its own answer.  I choose to participate in this
conversation because I’ve been hurt by Christians in the past.  To me,
reconciliation is an important part of the healing process.  Conversing
with Christians — even Christians who theology and sexual ethics
differ greatly for my own — gives me another opportunity to make peace
with my past.  It gives me the chance to realize that while I’ve been
hurt in the past, other Christians really are decent and loving.  It
also allows me to regain the love and dignity that was stolen from me
by those past experiences.

Participating
in such a dialogue also gives me the opportunity to tell my story and
serve as a representative for all those others who still might be hurt
by some Christians.  It enables me to raise some Christians’ awareness
of just how little it takes to create great pain for young people
struggling with a sexual orientation that their friends, family, and
church says is bad.  If offering my story will help one Christian
better reach out to and support another gay person when they
desperately need it, then my participation in this dialogue is well
worth it.

btg cover.gifI also wish to participate in such a dialogue because
that gay person sitting in the pew may need to hear my voice and know
my story.  Sadly, far too many Christians have a very stereotypical
understanding of gay people.  Too often, being gay is equated with
having multiple sexual partners, abusing drugs and alcohol, and
engaging in several other destructive behaviors.  And while I do not
deny that some gay people do engage in these and other behaviors, it is
not as universal as some Christians might believe or pretend that it
is.  As a well-adjusted — in my opinion at least — gay man with
relatively healthy sexual ethics, my participation in dialogue with
Christians serves as an opportunity to demonstrate first-hand that gay
men like me exist.  Coming to the table provided by folks like Wendy
provides me with an opportunity to demonstrate to conflicted gay
Christians with evidence that they have more choices than the dismal
options that others have painted for them.  (And I admit that I admire
the integrity, confidence, and grace of people like Wendy who are
willing to give me that opportunity despite their own desire to see
people make a different choice than the one I have in regards to
sexuality.)

Finally, I choose to participate in
such a dialogue because in the end, it is in my best interests to do
so.  To be honest, there are many Christians — including Christians
who believe that people should not get involved in same-sex romantic
relationships — that are in my life.  These people are my friends, my
coworkers, and my family members.  They are not going to change their
beliefs any time soon, nor are they going to disappear from my life
anytime soon.  So I can either choose to live a life where we are
distant from one another and suspicious of each other.  Or I can choose
to enter into dialogue in an attempt to find mutual understanding and a
better sense of peace despite our differences.

To me, the choice is obvious.

(The images in this post were provided by Wendy Gritter and used with her express permission.)

7 thoughts on “Upcoming Synchroblog: Bridging the Gap”

  1. I’m glad you’re participating, Jarred. I have friends who are involved with BTG and I am supportive of what they are doing. I still don’t know if I’ll chime in or not…it’s so sensitive an issue that I worry about being able to tread lightly enough. I’ll have to think on it.

  2. Thank you Jarred for sharing this with your readers and for articulating so well your reasons for wanting to participate. I’m thrilled that your voice will be part of the conversation that emerges on June 24th. I’d also just extend my personal invitation to any readers here to also consider joining the conversation.

  3. Thanks, Erin. I’m happy to be participating, too. And I still do hope that you consider contributing to the event. I totally understand your concerns about how sensitive this issue is. But then again, I think that’s all the more reason we need to address it. Part of the dialogue is probably going to involve hitting tender nerves and possibly even reopening old wounds. But one thing that my life has taught me is that these things are often a necessary part of the healing process. And I know that you have such a kind heart that you’d be more than willing to work through anything that came up as a result of your participation. This event needs more people with the kind of compassion I know you to have.

  4. And thank you, Wendy, for giving me such a perfect opportunity to engage in such a dialogue. I hope that some of my readers join us for the synchroblog as well.

  5. This sounds like a worthwhile exercise, but I was a bit suspicious about the “sharing the heart of the gospel” bit.

    To me, the heart of the message (which can be found in all religions) is love and compassion. Christians need to remove the beam from their own eyes before trying to remove the mote from other people’s eyes – but perhaps that is what this exercise is all about. I hope so.

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