MUCH HAS ALREADY been said on social media about Manny Pacquiao’s misguided statement on LGBTs and I feel no need to add to it. The rancor people hurled from their high horses over that fence called “righteousness” sincerely disturbed me.
Thankfully, I missed most of the ugliness as I was busy last week and could only post my daily Bible passage on Facebook.
I am a Christian; I teach the Bible; I spend my days studying it. I find it chock-full of wisdom that is not accessed by even self-professing Christians. And so I share a verse a day for whatever purpose it may serve. Over the years, folks have told me how this helped them and thanked me for it. Consequently, I feel I shouldn’t take this little service for granted.
But not all folks receive it well.
I have a childhood acquaintance who is now US-based; he married his longtime partner when same-sex marriage was recently legalized in his state. He became my Facebook friend several years ago. We were not close friends here and hardly interacted online, although when his dog was sick and he asked for prayers, I responded; and when his Dad fell ill, I prayed for him as well.
In between these crises, he chose to occasionally pollute my wall with snide and malicious comments about my faith and my lifestyle.
For instance, when I posted a picture of one of my cats waking me one day, he publicly commented, “I’m always happy to see my girlfriends taking care of their pussies in the morning.”
And there was the time he sent me a private message inviting me to watch the latest update on his life by clicking a link that led to a pornographic gay video (not featuring him, thankfully).
Why this person chose to target me was obvious. My Christianity offended him and he perhaps wanted to shock me out of it.
He probably assumed that, being Christian, I was a bigot as well and judged him for his lifestyle. He may even have thought he was defending himself and felt justified in these trivial assaults.
In fact, I communicated with him sparsely. I never said a word against him or his life choices that provoked his reaction. And whenever he posted insults on my wall, I never retaliated. I merely deleted them. I don’t engage in catfights and so I let him be. I thought he got the message because he remained quiet for a while.
The other day, I posted Matthew 18:20 (“For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them”) to encourage some Christian friends going through hard times. I was shocked to find that my dormant heckler resurfaced to comment: “So if I’m driving by myself and my tire blows out then I’m in big trouble because Jesus won’t show up. hahaha LOL j/k”
That was it. You can insult me and my lifestyle, but you do not ever ridicule my God. I immediately deleted the comment and unfollowed, unfriended and blocked him. However, I did it without giving him tit for tat. He can be as spiteful as he wants; I won’t wrestle in the mud with him.
I am sharing this story because too many generalizations have been made about Christian intolerance. While it exists, not every Bible-believing follower of Jesus chooses to hate and shroud that animus in religiosity.
We are not all hypocrites. Bigotry is not our ethic, though the legalists and narrow-minded among us give that impression. In reality, many of us insist on what Christ identified as the greatest commandment: love God with all your being and love your neighbor as yourself.
Because we take this seriously, many of us are earnestly seeking to understand the LGBT experience and how we can reach out in love to members of that community. Many of us are designing church ministries that will enable our LGBT brothers and sisters to enter the church comfortably, knowing they are welcome. Many theologians among us are studying how the clear biblical tenets on homosexuality and the boundaries these set can be applied in real life alongside the comprehensive teachings on love.
We are not about to erase those boundaries. We live by them. While the Bible prohibits the lifestyle, it does not automatically anathematize the person living it. The Bible teaches that choices must be made, and life lived according to God’s word. We have chosen to follow that word. Others may not. We guarantee though that hatred and prejudice and discrimination are nowhere countenanced by Christ, and neither will those of us who follow Him closely.
This angry fellow who called himself my “friend” bashed me online with no provocation and without reprisal. Merely because I am a Christian. I pity him. He lives inconsistently, wanting respect and tolerance for his lifestyle but not willing to give the same to someone who is different.
He is angry with me for what others have done, not for what I did. I will not follow suit. I am not angry with him, nor will I judge others from the LGBT community for his faults. He represents them poorly.
Manny Pacquiao’s unfortunate words hurt and caused conflict, and he is paying a high price for that. But he is not guilty for believing what he does. We are all entitled to that. I only wish that the sanctimonious voices on both sides of the debate would realize the harshness they have spewed. Then I wish they would hush and listen to each other and hear what is really being said behind the pain.
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.