Recently I met an old friend for lunch. He was actually my senior high prom date.
He wasn’t just my prom date, but had been my friend for a good part of high school. And our group has mostly stayed in touch through the years. But not him. Even though we live in the same big metroplex, I hadn’t seen him in almost 15 years.
At prom, He even won some kind of senior superlative, Mr. BHS or something like that. In other words, he was well-liked, nice, funny and smart. And it helped that he drove a Camero. We didn’t break up or have a falling out. He kind of just disappeared. And not just from me, but from everyone.
And I had looked for him.
At class reunions. On myspace. And eventually, only about a year ago, he finally showed up on facebook.
When he did, I suggested we get together for dinner or something.
And he responded with a really awkward email.
Explaining that he was gay. Warning me. Trying to let me out of my dinner invitation if I wanted. And I already knew this. Possibly I had even known it back in high school. It wasn’t really an issue for me. I didn’t need him to explain himself.
I replied, “So, where would you like to eat?”

Life got in the way and we never met up.
But recently we tried again.
And we talked a little bit about his disappearance. And how he really regretted pulling away. And it was only a little bit about being gay and a lot about being gay and Christian.
Because this guy, back in high school, was known for his faith. He led bible studies. Was crazy active in his church. He was busy having quiet times while many of us were out drinking. He even seriously considered becoming a priest. He was worried about how people would handle that.
Before we met for lunch and talked, I wondered a little if he had lost his faith. Because I have a few friends like him who have. Who felt like they had to choose.
And I couldn’t imagine this guy without his faith. Even if I could imagine him with another man. But it was only minutes into our conversation for me to see that it was still intact. And I told him that I was glad he never felt like it was an either/or decision.

And I know for some of you reading this it is.
Or at least it is a “love the sinner hate the sin” kind of scenario.
And I won’t try and tell you that it is ok.
But I also won’t say it is wrong.
Because really I don’t know.
Nor do I feel like I need to finalize any kind judgment on the issue.
That really isn’t my job.
I’ve got more than my share of planks to extract before I start working on anyone else’s splinters.

A lot of people make Christians choose.
They make a tiny little box and only think that people like them should fit in side.
And everyone else must be on a different team.
Thankfully. God is bigger than a box. And doesn’t really pick teams.
He picks all of us. Individually. By name.
But that is easy to forget because those boxes are awfully convenient.
Boxes that tell us where we stand. And more importantly where everyone else stands.
You can believe in creation or evolution.
You can either be democrat or a Christian. But certainly not both.
You can’t send your kids public school and be a Christian.
You can either like Twilight and Harry Potter or read sub par fiction books about the Amish or country priests.
Christians certainly don’t have tattoos ( or 4 and a nose ring).
You can listen to Janis Joplin and Radiohead or be a Christian and prefer the likes of Amy Grant (or maybe U2 if you are really edgy).
You can’t be divorced and be a Christian.
And you especially can’t be a homosexual and a Christian.
There are verses against that. Black and white. Plain as day.

If we really read the bible, there are also verses that black and white, plain as day, tell us some things about following Christ that most of us tend to happily ignore.
You can’t love your family and be a Christian. (Luke 14:26)
It is almost impossible to be rich and be a Christian. (Matthew 19:24)
Good Christian women shouldn’t pray without a head covering (1 Corinthians 11:5) or speak in church (1 Corinthians 14:34).
If we took Jesus at his word, a lot more people would be running around with gouged out eyes and cut off right hands. (Mark 9:47, Matthew 5:30)
And that is only in the New Testament, don’t get me started on all the crazy rules in the Old Testament.

Actually, I don’t really think we ignore those verses. Instead, sometimes when we read the bible we apply context and culture.
And sometimes we forget to do that.
Sometimes we take things literally, other times (like the gouging out of your eyes) we assume Jesus is speaking figuratively. It gets confusing.
Which is why I have a hard time picking. Either/Or.
I don’t know.
Each team has verses to back them up.
But again, God isn’t so into teams or either/or scenarios.
And even Satan tried to use his word to manipulate someone into doing what he wanted.
His name was Jesus and he didn’t fall for it.

Satan and the Pharisees tried multiple times to give Jesus either/or situations and he never responded as expected.
He never picked option A or B.
He replied with questions, or verses, and especially grace.
Neither. None of the above.
Because love doesn’t really fit into multiple choice.
Love isn’t Either. Or.
It isn’t your team or mine.
Your political party or mine.
Not even your orientation.
And we are called to love deeply.
Because apparently it covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8).

And I’m not sure about my friend I met for lunch.
But I have a few sins that could use some covering.

Bigger Picture Moment
This post is part of bigger picture blogs..........and attempt to find the bigger picture in our crazy week and look for faith along the way. Check out some of the other posts Corrine's blog.


Pete the Brit said...

An excellent post. I'm so glad you were able to reconnect in a loving healthy way with a friend from your past and he felt able to share who he was with you :)

This Heavenly Life said...

I love it when you write about faith and questions so openly, which you seem to do pretty often! Thank you for this post -- I agree with context/cultural cues for how to interpret the bible. Things can get so confusing, and that's okay. We just gotta keep plugging along :)

Corinne said...

This was so good, as usual. The check boxes are maddening, aren't they? And who comes up w/ them anyway?
Way to break free. Love that you question your faith and love it all at the same time.
Thank you for linking up :)

Wheezer said...

I just want to know who the hot girl in the picture is?

Jade said...

Well said! That's really great you got to connect with an old friend. And I love your ambivalence and the fact that you are at peace with your ambivalence. That's beautiful too. I sometimes think that when people "have all the answers" they miss out on truth.

suzannah @ so much shouting/laughter said...

i appreciate this, because faithful people can certainly come to more than one conclusion on so many issues. God is bigger than the lines we draw in the sand.

michelle said...

thanks for the kind words....i was a little hesitant to post this, but mostly the response has been super positive.

Stephanie said...

sorry to hear your inservice was not inspiring... somehow I believe that! Good luck with back-to-school in your classroom and with your baby. I'm sure that it's going to be a tough one.

What a thought provoking post! So much of what you said is so very true and are topics that my hubbie and I discuss often. Thanks for sharing!!

Kate said...

Michelle, could I share this with others? You are such a thought-provoking and excellent writer. Thanks!

Amber said...

Michelle, this is a beautiful post. It really has my brain going in many different directions, so much so that I can't really get out what I want to say! But I wanted to let you know that this is very brave and very well written.