Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Will you proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ Jesus?

The answer is, of course, "I will, with God's help." And here's a GREAT illustration of the kind of difference just one person proclaiming that Good News can make in the lives of those for whom the love of God has been drowned out by the bigotry of the church!
It's from a blog called The Bilerico Project and it's entitled: "My night with Gene Robinson."

I was kicked out of the church when I was 16 for coming out. The pastor and youth minister both called me the devil and said I wasn’t welcome. A great example of godly love, I’m sure.

My parents and family all used religion as a weapon against me when I came out, saying I was going to hell. They literally shunned me for a period of time, all in the name of religion. I’ve been spit on by “godly Christians” and threatened to be killed by them for speaking out against the crazy, toilet-obsessed Mayor Naugle of Fort Lauderdale.

It’s not hard to see why I would have a negative view of religion, Christians in particular. I found them to be disingenuous, non-thinking sheep at best and hate-filled, bigoted extremists at worst.

That is, until I met Bishop Robinson.

I’ll admit I wasn’t sure what to expect when I went to hear him speak. Since I found it impossible to reconcile my religious upbringing with my gayness, I was unsure that he would have anything relevant to say. Would I relate, or even care?

Those questions all melted away when I had a chance to meet him before his lecture (my partner was hosting the series he was speaking at). Bishop Robinson had such a sense of strength, intelligence, and peace about him as soon as he approached.I put out my hand to introduce myself. He laughed and pulled me in for a hug, saying how great it was to finally meet me. I guess my hubby had been putting in a few good words about me.

I was immediately thrown off by his openness and kindness, something I wasn’t expecting from such a deeply religious person. My surprise only grew when I heard him speak.

He spoke with such authority and conviction about religion, God, and the Bible. He seemed to answer all of my questions and concerns about the way religion has been corrupted by extremists. He talked about the true message of religion: acceptance, love, and compassion. He talked about how civil rights, including LGBT equality, was something all religious people should be behind.

Even when he was attacked during the questions session by some crazy, right-wing pastor for “spreading lies about the Bible and Jesus” and “being a disgusting abomination”, he never got angry or reacted negatively back. He simply showed true strength and answered back intelligently and honestly, never stooping to the level of those that attacked him.

As I drove from the lecture to the restaurant where we were meeting for dinner, my mind was spinning. It was like my own little epiphany. I was being just as close-minded and bigoted as the Christians I had come to despise through my own experiences.

Sure, on some intellectual level, I always knew that the rabid, anti-gay Christians didn’t represent all religious people. I just never really cared to make that distinction. I lumped them all together as ignorant hate-mongers who just wanted to attack LGBT’s. Yet after meeting the Bishop, I saw a different, more honest form of religion that represented something I never truly thought about.

The dinner only cemented my view of the Bishop. He was fun, engaging, smart, and refreshingly normal. He wasn’t here to shove his views down anyone’s throat. He was simply a man striving to have a conversation about faith and love in a society that has given up on both. He was the real deal. A Christian, a man of God, who was trying to make the world he is in a better place.

So where does this experience leave me?

While I may not be running out to join a monastery anytime soon, my views on religious people have shifted dramatically. Sure there are still the hate-filled bigots who use religion as a weapon.

But that doesn’t represent them all.

There are people like Bishop Robinson who simply want to use the lessons of God to make true change in the world.

Honestly, he forced this jaded gay man to try and accept religious folks, or at least not write them off completely. If he can do that, I have every confidence that he can open the eyes of the world about LGBT people and our issues.

God bless him and his mission.


God bless him, indeed! And may we be given the grace to go and do likewise!


Anonymous said...

What a wonderful article about +Gene. I've mentioned somewhere else (I think it was at Mimi's) the irony that I, Gene Robinson, Bob Duncan and Jack Iker were all at General at the same time. Isn't it weird how things turned out? Bob and Jack were nothing like what they've become. For that matter, neither was Gene... who wasn't really "out" back then. The current scenario would have been impossible to foresee. How very strange it all is... the paths we take, the ripples in the pond. Somehow, in a way we can't understand, God seems to be at work in all this. At least, we have to hope so.

Unknown said...

Thanks for visiting the Bilerico Project, Susan. I hope you stop by often and join the conversations on the site.

I would have e-mailed you instead of commenting (and if you'd like you can delete the rest of this comment from this paragraph down!)

While I'm happy you enjoyed Waymon's post, please don't print the whole thing on your own site. We ask that folks use either a small clip or in your case, the part before the jump (cut it off after "That is, until I met Bishop Robinson.").

By doing it like this, you not only send us traffic (so they can finish reading the post) but Waymon will be able to see you're driving traffic to his post and it makes him more likely to read your site and link to you. Make sense?

I read through some of your other posts - and you're a darn good blogger. Would you like to exchange blogroll links? You can e-mail me at bil [at] bilerico [dot] com.

JimB said...

Bishop Gene is really an amazing man. His kindness and patience under provocation is awe inspiring.

I am so glad for this person who now knows there is a place in Christ's kingdom for folks who have lived his story.


Unknown said...

Is this the same +Gene Robinson some folks just can't stand being in the same church with?

Paul said...

Good News. How refreshing in a world (and church) full of so much bad news.

Thanks so much for posting this. I linked to it and hope lots of folks read it.

William said...

I have maintained for a long time that +V. Gene isnt the first gay man with a boyfriend to be Bishop in the 2000 year history of the Church.

On the other hand he is the FIRST to be honest enough about to to inform the rest of us.

Since he isnt the first gay bishop it must be his blatant honesty that everyone is upset about.

My guess is many of the loudest complainers have things that they dont want us to know about them.

the Reverend boy said...

What a great story!

I, too, have had the pleasure of exchanging greetings with +Gene and hearing his preaching. The church could not be more blessed than to have this man as one of our bishops.