Whitey Tighties, Hugs, and Gay Pride

*** Disclaimer you should read before the post.  I have absolutely no wish for this conversation to deteriorate into whether or not Homosexuality is a sin.  I honestly do not care whether we agree or not.  That is not the point of this post.  Thank you! ***

Yes, what you are viewing is not a mirage, that is a man in his underwear hugging another (buckle to buckle I might add).  Honestly, this is a pretty touching moment when you read why this happened.  Let me give you the story.  The clothed man’s name is Nathan and here are some of excerpts from his blog (the Pride Parade outreach) on why and how this happened.

“What I loved most about the day is when people “got it.” I loved watching people’s faces as they saw our shirts, read the signs, and looked back at us. Responses were incredible. Some people blew us kisses, some hugged us, some screamed thank you. A couple ladies walked up and said we were the best thing they had seen all day.

Watching people recognize our apology brought me to tears many times. It was reconciliation personified.

My favorite though was a gentleman who was dancing on a float. He was dressed solely in white underwear and had a pack of abs like no one else. As he was dancing on the float, he noticed us and jokingly yelled, “What are you sorry for? It’s pride!” I pointed to our signs and watched him read them.

Then it clicked.

Then he got it.

He stopped dancing. He looked at all of us standing there. A look of utter seriousness came across his face. And as the float passed us he jumped off of it and ran towards us. He hugged me and whispered, “thank you.”

I think a lot of people would stop at the whole “man in his underwear dancing” part. That seems to be the most controversial. It’s what makes the evening news. It’s the stereotype most people have in their minds about Pride.

Sadly, most Christians want to run from such a sight rather than engage it. Most Christian won’t even learn if that person dancing in his underwear has a name. Well, he does. His name is Tristan.

However, I think Jesus would have hugged him too. It’s exactly what I read throughout scripture: Jesus hanging out with people that religious people would flee from. Correlation between then and now? I think so.

Acceptance is one thing. Reconciliation is another. Sure at Pride, everyone is accepted (except perhaps the protestors). There are churches that say they accept all. There are business that say the accept everyone. But acceptance isn’t enough. Reconciliation is.

Reconciliation forces one to remember the wrongs committed and relive constant pain. Yet it’s more powerful and transformational because two parties that should not be together and have every right to hate one another come together for the good of one another, for forgiveness, reconciliation, unity.

What I saw and experienced at Pride 2010 was the beginning of reconciliation. It was in the shocked faces of gay men and women who did not ever think Christians would apologize to them.

I hugged a man in his underwear. I hugged him tightly. And I am proud.”

This event happened a few weekends ago at a Chicago Pride parade, along with many other US cities, celebrated Gay Pride with a parade.  As a part of the weekend, Nathan and a group of over 30 Christians from various Chicago churches went to demonstrate at the Gay Pride Parade with the Marin Foundation.  Obviously, their demonstration was much different, though.  Our friends (sarcasm included) Fred Phelps and the crew were, by far, the most vocal “Christian” (and I use this word loosely) presence at the parade with their now [in]famous “God Hates Fags” signs, a team from the Marin Foundation took a different approach, they chose to apologize.

To be completely honest I am both happy and saddened by this event, here’s what I mean.  I think that precision in words is needed within this context.  Signs like “I’m sorry how the church has treated you”, “Im sorry for how the church has hurt you” and simply “I’m sorry” are pretty wide open for interpretation.

Which Church?

How have they hurt?

What did they do?

I’ve not been to a church (that I know off) that physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually hurts people, let alone homosexuals.  I’ve been involved in their counseling, recovery, and outreach programs and not seen discrimination.  Just for the record I have been apart of Southern Baptist Churches and attend a Southern Baptist Seminary(supposedly the worst of them all).  I also realize that I can only speak for those churches that I have been involved with and not every church.  It seems that the apology is for the Phelps crew or someone on TV.  How does [Phelps and crew] represent “the Church”?

As I have said before I have absolutely no wish for this conversation to deteriorate into whether or not Homosexuality is a sin.  I honestly do not care whether we agree or not.  The positions of the “Marin Foundation” and my own are different, but this does not lead me to question their individual lives in Christ.  Again, this is not the point of this post.

The Marin Foundation’s [short] Mission statement is “… to build a bridge between the religious and GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender) communities through scientific research, and Biblical and social education.”

This honestly intrigues me that a group of believers are choosing to intentionally engage a community that seems so far from most Christians.  So this begs the question, in your [honest] opinion, is this [interaction] effective?  Positive or negative?  Why?

I am looking forward to the conversation.


About Jon Nelson

I am just a nobody trying to tell everybody about Somebody [Christ Jesus]!

Posted on August 2, 2010, in ...from Jon, Theology. Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. Hey Jon,
    I feel that limited and sympathetic engagement is mildly effective. It does ‘open a door’ for potential discussion, but does little to actually engage the person in our faith and demonstrate a personal relationship with our Savior. On the positive side, it does reach out compassionately to the pride people. I have learned and agree that as Christians we are charged to bring people to Christ, not judge them on behalf of Christ. We are merely vessels to introduce people to a loving God we have relationship with.

    • Todd,
      You and I are on the same page. I have been so confused when we as believers acts as if we are the judge instead of believing that as long as they have breath in there lungs there is hope in believing the Gospel. This is a tough one. Thanks!

  2. Kim Pressgrove

    I appreciate your thoughts on this topic, though I do not agree with everything here. I have a question for you, the line “I’ve been involved in their counseling, recovery, and outreach programs and not seen discrimination.” I have issues with the word recovery. What do you mean by that exactly? This leads me to think that you believe that being gay is a choice or something like an addiction that you can recover from. Because I am often judged in the wrong way, I would like to hear your side. Thank you for keeping an open mind on the subject.

    • Kim,
      I’m so glad that you have joined me on this space. Let me define what I meant by the word “recovery”. The Recovery that I have been involved in exists to bring glory to God through lives changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a repentance and reconciliation ministry that seeks to counsel people into the fullness of joy that God intends for His children. To that end, I’ve encouraged and exhorted people to live out the greatest commandment: to love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength, and love one another as ourselves. It is through following this commandment that we find what it really means to live.
      I do not think that “being gay is [necessarily] a choice or choice or something like an addiction” and I’m sorry to hear that you have been judged. I tell those I minister to and with that my job is not condemn people outside my faith for their actions but help them to understand the Gospel of Christ. I will let the Gospel change the person if need be and not moralism. I hope that this helps and I pray that that this finds you both well.

  3. Hey Jon,
    I don’t know if you knew about my big brother. He was also gay. A-little over a year ago he died of aids. My big brother went from 175 lbs. to 65 lbs right before our eyes. This was very hard on me because I absolutely loved this man. He pretty much raised me and I had a lot of respect for him. He told us about 10 years ago that he had aids.
    He went into the hospital on Jan.10th and never left. He died March 2nd. My mom, sister and I never left his side during this time, one of us were there at all times. One of the times he came out of ICU he wanted me to know that he prayed for the Lord to forgive him for his lifestyle and all his sins. He at that time realized his lifestyle was a sin. I know that I had written a comment of “Be in the world but not of it”. In my heart I go with the understanding is Love them (like I did with my big brother) But I do not have to condone or join in. I do love them, they are God creations too. He loves them as much as He loves me. He died for them too. This is a very close subject to me for I still have a very good friend and recently my nephew and 2 cousins just came out. Love ya bra-tha

  4. You know, we’ve all heard the evangelical maxim, “love the sinner, hate the sin.” But nothing belies the truth that we don’t really know how to do that like homosexuality. Civil rights only complicates the issue: how do you hate sin without fighting legislation that legitimizes it? Yet, how can you convince someone that you are able to separate their sin from their person when you’re voting for them to have fewer privileges and protections than other people?

    • Very interesting point. As long as moral values and politics are intertwined this will be a battle. I know politics is not the core of this topic Jon brought up, but I will say that our gov’t is much too involved in deciding what we can and cannot do with our lives. I want them to secure our borders, man our military and leave our states alone.
      The theory of “love the sinner, hate the sin” will always skewed by judgmental people. Sin does not make the person. Christ can see through the sin and love us the same, and that is what He charges us to do. Homosexuality is a sin, murder is a sin, theft is a sin(even a 25 cent pack of gum.) Only in a humans eyes do those sins title a person. But, behind the thief, murderer, etc. is a heart and soul cherished by Christ. Cherished enough to become a perfect sacrifice for us to cleanse us.

  5. Personally, I think that the signs were effective in communicating that not all Christians are the same. Non-believers tend to characterize all Christians as being unaccepting of gays, but that just is not the case. I believe that we are all equally sinners and the sins of a gay person are no different than my own. I love gay people and wish that they would be treated equally and accepted just as openly as any other person would be, within our churches and within our lives.

    I have some very close friends that are gay and quite honestly some of their moral compasses point closer to due north than that of some of the straight “christians” that I have known.

    Love One Another As Christ Loves Us All

  6. Jon,

    I think we as evangelicals DO have something to apologize for. No, thank the Lord, we are not Fred Phelps disciples. But our elevation of the particular sin of homosexual behavior to a category above that of other sins that we easily forgive is pervasive. I have known many, many people who are frankly obsessed with making sure that we fight the cultural mandate and “take a stand” to proclaim homosexuality a sin. And that obsession has the tendency to drive our young people who struggle with same sex attraction deeper and deeper into a closet until they feel there is no outlet left but to leave their families and their churches and cling to those that will accept them. In all of our zeal make sure that our country doesn’t forget that the Bible says this is a sin, we have turned into raving hypocrites. What we should be shouting at the top of our lungs is, “I am a sinner. I am the chief of sinners. I am a SEXUAL sinner. If you want to see sin, look at ME. And yet, God is love. And God forgives me every day because of the atonement Jesus accomplished. And if God can forgive such a wretch as me, He can forgive you for ANYTHING and EVERYTHING.”

    I suggest you read Andrew Marin’s book, “Love Is an Orientation.” I don’t agree with his conclusions 100%, but it’s still a very valuable look into both the prevalent gay perspective on the Church and the calling that Marin and others feel toward the gay community. It really inspired me, I can tell you that.

    • Matt,
      As usual you have great insight into the subject at hand and for that I am infinitely grateful. Additionally, do you have a copy of the book that you mentioned? If so I’d love to borrow it.
      As for your comments, I understand that we are theologically on the same page and yes, I’ve heard of/ seen portrayals of churches acting ridiculous by “[elevating]the particular sin of homosexual behavior to a category above that of other sins that we easily forgive”. My argument is simply this, those characterizations are not normative in the churches that I’ve attended (and I would dare say ones you have attended). I don’t here sermons or talks, in any circle that I’m apart of, that elevate homosexuality above any other sexual sin or any sin for that matter. This then lead me to wonder whether the context I have been apart of (Southern Baptist Church and Schools) are outside the norm OR what I am experiencing is normal and we are operating and apologizing from perceptions and not actual truth. You are absolutely right “we should be shouting at the top of our lungs is, “I am a sinner. I am the chief of sinners… If you want to see sin, look at ME. And yet, God is love. And God forgives me every day because of the atonement Jesus accomplished. And if God can forgive such a wretch as me, He can forgive you for ANYTHING and EVERYTHING.” and again I would argue that those I’m around do and call others to do the same. I just wonder if precision in words is needed instead of operating out of stereotypes (which are based in some contextual truth) and perceptions.
      You tell me.

      • John,

        Yes, indeed I do have a copy of Marin’s book and would be happy to loan it to you.

        I would say this about your experience with churches you and I have attended. The emphasis and venom is not always coming from the pulpit. What I was referring to happened mostly in small groups and in casual conversation. And I do believe it is more prevalent from the pulpit in many churches that we have not been a part of. Particularly in churches that emphasize the culture wars. When you go down that road it very quickly becomes “us vs. them”.

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