Where do we go from here?

I’ve been rather silent on the ole Duck Dynasty front. I haven’t addressed it on my blog or on here until now. I won’t give a lot of back ground on what has happened because, really unless you live on a farm with no internet OR TV you probably know what’s going on.

First things first, I am not above reacting to something like this. My first reaction was anger. “How dare you tell this man of God that he cannot voice his faith!” Then I stopped, calmed down and did my research. I read the original article because being a blogger I know how snippets of an article can be taken out of context without having the whole as a reference. Having read the article and listening to both sides, I can say this without a doubt. This is a mess!

No one wins in this situation. Phil is made to look like a ignorant bigoted backwoods hill billy. A&E’s number one ranked show is now surrounded with controversy. Both sides of this argument, the LGBT community and the church now appear to be enemies.

My question is, where do we go from here? What’s done is done. The answer is, the church has to be the bigger person and move to peace. What can the church do to open a dialogue to the LGBT community?

First things first. Even using the scripture Phil quoted we know that sin is sin. No sin is worse than another. However, Christians do not truly feel that way. Homosexuality has become a hot button topic, because we see how it is working in our culture. Here is the deal though, lying happens ever day. Heck, I probably stretch the truth once a day! We over look that though because well, the homosexual community is WAY worse than I am. A sin is a sin. So lets not think homosexuality is worse than lying cause Jesus doesn’t feel that way.

So with that in mind, how can we open a dialogue and show Christ’s love? We’ve done a very good job at pointing out the sin, we’re good at that. The thing is we need to see a LGBT person or student as Christ does. They are made in the image of God and deeply loved by God.

I recently contacted Shawn Harrison, founder of Six: 11 ministries and author of “Ministering to Gay Teenagers”. Shawn has a wealth of knowledge about this so I wanted his input. I posed the same questions to him. His response comes straight from Jesus’ heart. I was originally going to interview Shawn about these questions but his response sums it up. I will be posting it in its entirety below.

“Hey Kevin, Sorry this is a bit late. Don’t have internet connection at our new house yet. So I had to wait till I got to church. Anyways … some thoughts about your blog post:

 Where do we go, as the Church, from this point forward, in regards to the LGBT community? That’s a great question. While some churches have made a sufficient stride in bridging gaps between both communities, the Church as a whole has a long way to go. One aspect (with the Phil Robertson episode) that really irked me, was that straight conservative Christians didn’t understand why people like GLADD were upset with his comments. For many of them, they looked at the issue in two lenses: Phil was being scolded for his Biblical views on homosexuality, and this was yet another attack on Christians and their beliefs. Basically, people couldn’t see the issue beyond themselves – and that’s extremely dangerous.

 What I tried to communicate in my blog post, was that, as Christians, we need to learn the art of listening and being silent. And this is hard, even when we know we are correct in our said belief. For too long, the church has been trying to shout louder than the other sides (gay community, atheist, evolution, etc). Those sides want to get us in a screaming match, because they know in such a match we tend to fall apart within ourselves. Any they’re right, we do. So what if we learned how to process things through listening, first. What if we took time to hear the stories of those who disagree with us, instead of reacting right from the start. I’m wiling to bet we’d find a different conversation happening.

 Some will refute this and say, “Well Jesus never backed down,” or “Well Jesus never apologized for speaking the truth.” And while He didn’t apologize for the truth He spoke, Christ did know how to communicate with people. When speaking to others, Jesus saw the person for who they there – people in need of Himself. He spoke value over them, showing people that they were more than an issue, a sin, and a lesser person of society. Jesus brought equality. He taught us to see and love people for who they were.

 When He left, Christ commissioned us to go and do likewise. As representatives of Christ, we must do better in living as imitators of Christ.

 This isn’t to say we ignore truth and we remain silent as people and culture pass by us. Rather, it’s a challenge to change the conversations and interactions we’re having. Silence is good at times. We need to listen. We need to be slow to speak. Sometimes it’s more important that people see our faith being lived out, rather than hearing us through a megaphone. In a practical sense, sometimes we need to hug tightly a gay man or woman, and remind them that Jesus loves them. That He was born for them, and that He died for them. And not only does Jesus love them, but so do we. Sometimes we need to apologize, if for no other reason but to ease up the tension between us. In times like this past week, the church needs to remember that there is no “us vs them.” It’s only “us and Him.” We are in this world together, and we are on this journey towards Christ together.

 In the end, it’s a challenge to be set a part for God, and to be agents of God’s work within this world. The church is called to be different – in how we interact with one another, in how we talk, in how we love, in how we live, in how we argue, in how we value people, and in how we live out the faith we profess to believe. My heart is to make this a reality within the global body of Christ – instead of just words on a page.

 I know these thoughts may be scattered, but I hope things make sense.”

After reading Shawn’s response I really thought about by initial reaction. It was certainly a “us vs them” reaction. Hopefully this incident is just a bump in the road to a dialogue in which neither side over reacts and both sides can see the worth in each other. Maybe where the Christian see the image of God that exists in that person and where the LGBT community will see that the Church does love them as a person. Hopefully this will happen before we as Christians run out of time to show them Jesus. Until next time.

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Bio: Kevin Patterson is currently serving as Minister to Students at Spring Bayou Baptist Church in Kevil, Kentucky. He currently attends Truett-McConnell College online and holds a certificate in youth ministry from YouthSphere. He is an ordained Southern Baptist minister and has been doing youth ministry for over 5 years. In addition to youth ministry, he works full time as a store manager and is a US Army combat veteran. In addition to MinistryPlace.net, you can read more from Kevin at his blog, www.lifeintheymfishbowl.blogspot.com.

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