louengle

No, not the Jesus I fell in love with at the foot of the cross. Not the Jesus, who, despite my doubts, my sin, my questioning, my rebellion — He loves me, He is gracious with me and He wiped my slate clean when He was nailed to that cross. Not the Jesus who intentionally sought after the misfits and the outcasts– Who I tend to identify with more than most church-goers. Not the Jesus who loves dearly, our gay brothers and sisters, who Uganda has decided to ostracize, criminalize and demonize — The folks we, the church, have abandoned. Because He sees each of us, in our entirety of who He made us to be, and not just according to one aspect of our identity.

He would not have been on the side of the religious zealots claiming one sin worth punishing by death or life imprisonment while selectively turning their heads to the more “culturally appropriate” ones.

Now that Uganda’s Anti-Gay Bill has been struck down, I can finally publicly share some thoughts on how broken I have been over it.

On Friday, I had friends texting, calling and shooting me emails with the news that Uganda’s Anti-Gay Bill had been struck down.

Expat friends who live in Uganda and friends who live outside the country. Friends inside of the church and friends who wouldn’t think twice about stepping foot inside of one. Straight friends, gay friends —  People close to me knew the joy this news would bring me. We celebrated last night, as justice seems to rarely happen for the marginalized here, this news brought HOPE.

Just as you may not agree with another’s faith, you would not agree or support them being persecuted for it. For a Christian, it would be absurd to share Christ with Muslim folks by throwing them in prison– In the same light, whether you believe being gay is a sin or not, whether you are pro-gay marriage or strongly against it, that isn’t even the issue I am arguing here. This is a human rights issue. LGBT folks are fleeing Uganda and seeking asylum abroad for fear of losing their lives. Gay and lesbian Ugandans have been beaten to death, harassed, and sentenced to prison time all in the name of God.

This is deeply unsettling and it should be. The same Book that has taught me what unconditional love and sacrifice look like is being used to teach hatred and bigotry. I refuse to stay silent and just watch this happen.

The Gospel has never spread well by finger-pointing, alienating, and condemning folks — Rather, I am reminded of the Jesus who met the woman at the well, the Jesus who knelt before the woman the Pharisees were ready to put to death — And I think, “How in the WORLD can Christ-followers believe that this is what Christ would call them to do in His name?”

Many have known the deep wrestling I’ve been working through in my own faith — mainly regarding the Church and how we are reacting to the LGBT community. How are we loving and pointing to Christ a group of folks who continuously feel alienated and “other-ed” by us?

How are we displaying Christ by protesting gay marriage but staying silent, if not contributing to, the persecution of gay folks in Uganda with the passing of an Anti-Gay Bill?

{If you want to better understand why I am conflicted in identifying with both the American and Ugandan church based on their contribution to Uganda’s Anti-Gay Bill, you should start by watching the documentary God Loves Uganda — While I do not believe this Bill to be entirely perpetuated by American Evangelicals like Lou Engle of IHOP, I do believe we’ve played a role and I do believe we will have to answer for it.  There are areas of the documentary I feel could have been improved upon, but it’s a good starting point}.

I avoided church here for a long time surrounding the passing of the bill — Out of fear of hearing someone say something in support of it and out of sheer sadness that so many Christians have been so silent throughout the whole thing.

BILLY

In this, I’ve been reminded of this Billy Graham quote.

We are called to love — Not to convict, not to condemn, not to judge — Our own sin separates us and pulls us down from being in any position or power of authority to do so.

We’ve gotten the roles confused and the very people we should be loving and creating a safe place for, we feel the need to judge and condemn, letting them know just how sinful we believe they are.

That’s not what this world needs. The world knows it is broken. The Holy Spirit WILL convict those who come to know Christ on the areas of their life that are not honoring to God.

Accountability, calling each-other out– That’s supposed to come from within the church — Instead we are casting it outside and we are closing the doors and pulling out the welcome mats from under people’s feet before they even get the chance to enter.

In wrestling with this topic, my faith has been called into question as has the support for Abide from church, family and friends — And you know what? I’m willing to risk some church folks’ opinions of me if it means reaching out and trying to figure out the best way to love my gay brothers and sisters.

My heart breaks at how the church has acted toward the LGBT community back home and even more devastatingly, here in Uganda — I won’t pretend to know exactly how we are called to love, I just know we are — And I know that love is NOT what this community has been shown here.

I pray for change. I pray for walls to be broken down. I pray for community to be built.

I pray against this bill ever being passed again and for progress forward, not backward.

But for now, well done, Uganda.

The striking down of this bill is one step forward!

 

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