So I thought about the quickest way to summarize what's different about my church, a one-sentence wedge issue that'd really make it clear where I was going, and it hit me... "Well I like gay people."
The gal across from me quickly said, "At my church we like gay people, I mean I like them, that just doesn't mean you have to condone what they do."
I paused another minute and said. "Oh, well... I condone what they do."
I wasn't even sure what all the word "condone" entailed, I just wanted to be totally up front on that issue.
The reason I had to pause is that for so long when I was a gay rights activist, we were very careful never to make it a biblical debate. It was about freedom, about separation of church and state, about unintended consequences of unfair laws. It didn't matter if homosexuality was sinful or scientifically proven or a choice or any of that, all that mattered was what our laws should be.
But when it comes down to it I honestly do not see the biblical evidence that homosexuality is against God. The story of Sodom & Gomorrah, when I read it, is about a people being condemned for rape and violence. Other old Testament statements that homosexuality is "an abomination" are right next to the verses saying the same thing about shrimp. And that leaves us with Paul's letters in the new Testament, where the translations have been heavily debated and on other issues Paul was clearly a product of his time. He was okay with slavery, for heaven's sake. And what's most important, I think, is that he was Not Jesus. Jesus made radical statements about how women should be treated and outsiders should be heard... never mentioned a blip about the gays being an exception to any of that. It was just one big message to "challenge yourself", I think.
This is different from my opinions on things like adultery, which does go against God... if someone was in my sunday school class saying, "I'm an adulterer and I'm proud!" that's when I'd use the line, "Dude, you know we love you, but you've got to stop that."
There's even an entire movement I consider myself a part of, being "pro-choice", that's all about supporting something we don't condone. Planned Parenthood fights endlessly to keep abortion legal, but 97% of their resources are dedicated to helping women avoid pregnancy altogether. I'm pro-choice for logistical reasons, because the other side gets into things like personhood amendments and telling women they could just pray about their ectopic pregnancies or see a judge after 20 weeks to decide if they're facing "substantial" injuries (ahem, Kansas).
So "condone", now that I look it up, means you treat something as "favorable or harmless". Being gay is definitely harmless. And you know what? I'll even call it favorable, what the heck. Because I think in every generation, God gives us a group of people who don't fit into society, just to test us and see how tolerant we can be. In 2011, gays are in that group. Will we pass laws that discriminate against them? Will we fear taking our children around them? Or can we just BE COOL for once, quit blaming our problems on somebody else, quit needing someone to hate?