Posted on September 16, 2016
This is a follow-up from Wednesday’s post, so see the previous article for the context of this one.
At the conversation and desserts event that I attended Tuesday evening, a charge was issued by the moderator. The charge was that we all write down on the 3×5 card provided, the answer to two prompts. The first was, “Tonight, I learned …” The second was, “I will do in the future …” Keep in mind that these weren’t the specific prompts, but my paraphrase of them. You get the idea.
For the latter of the two, I wrote that I would take the time to get to know someone with whom I differed, and listen to what they had to say. I came very near to tearing up my card and tossing it in the refuse. Okay, I did, but the notion of taking action kept nagging at me. In the last post, I wrote about how I wished the conversation was ongoing. Well, if I wanted it, I should work toward it. Wednesday, I contacted someone I’d met Tuesday evening from the LGBT community and asked if we could get a bite of lunch or cup of coffee. They replied, and we scheduled lunch for today.
They were nervous as was I. However, they knew that I would ask questions regarding their viewpoint, and they would answer based on what they knew and had experienced. We had a lovely lunch, and I tried my first-ever cup of French Press coffee. It was certainly delicious. Those who know me know how much I love a good ole cup of coffee.
The one question I had—among others that I’ll not catalogue here—was, “What would you want all conservative, traditional Christians to know?” Please keep in mind that they were speaking for themselves, and not the entire LGBT community as much as I was not speaking for all of Christendom. They told me that they would want us to know that they just want what we want: to live their lives and not have to fear. A legitimate question was asked of me, “If I’m walking down the road holding my [partner’s] hand, does it even affect you?” I confessed that what two people did in their bedroom made no difference to what I was watching on Netflix. However, trying to answer the question honestly, I stated that many of us fear for our children while it may not influence us as adults much at all. As people of faith who understand God’s will through the Bible as we do, it is fearful because we believe that it results in eternal punishment.
Perhaps my favorite line from our conversation, after asking what they might like us to know, was the line, “We’re not recruiting.” We had a good chuckle at that. I was told that LGBT people are not after us to convert us and that they only want to live their lives and not be bothered. At this point, readers may want to disagree with that statement based on media coverage and how advocacy groups have pushed for this or that. I believe that both I and my lunch companion agreed that the media had done more harm than good on this front. However, what we conservative, traditional Christians perceive from the press about the LGBT community works both ways. What many in the LGBT community understand from media coverage regarding Christianity is that we’re not a loving people, but, rather, bigots. No amount of Facebook posts—which pretty much amount to people singing to their choir who likely agree with them—or memes engage in serious conversation. Sitting across the table from a person, however, is much more productive.
Our conversation drifted throughout several related subtopics. I confessed that one particular item that made me fearful as a husband and father was a trans-person going into the women’s restroom while my wife and daughter were in there. I also stated that I feel some of those individuals truly have struggled with this. We didn’t discuss causation of transgenderism. However, I did say that I don’t fear so much those who have had to fight with that identity crisis as much as I do the perverts who would exploit it to prey on others. Please understand, I do not believe all trans-people are perverts and prey on folks like my daughter and wife or little boys. If we’re to cast that broad a net, trans-people could make a decent argument regarding the clerical abuses that have been uncovered over the past few years and suggest that clergy appeared to be more predatorial than they. Some might denounce me for not using harsher language against them, but I think some of those people sincerely feel they should be one sex while they are biologically another. I don’t know why because I don’t understand it; however, I would prefer to reserve my judgment where my knowledge lacks.
Then, I offered to answer any question they might have. One question was how they might talk to their partner’s parents who are aware of their relationship but do not condone it because of their religious convictions. My answer was that if I were their partner’s parents, looking at the situation through the context of faith with the views I have, I would likely feel as their parents felt simply because of the eternal consequence in which I believe. I did urge that if the dialogue were to begin, that they expect the worst to be able to mentally and emotionally handle what came at them. On that topic, I stated that were my children to grow and be in the same boat, that it would be very hard for me. A parent’s love for their children is so great that we don’t want them to face any harm—be it physical, emotional, etc. As a person with my convictions, I’d add to the top of that list that I certainly wouldn’t want my children to face eternal punishment.
I offered my lunch companion that they and I both were wholly dependent on God’s mercy on the day of judgment. I said that because I believe it to be true regardless of either of our personal sins and the choices we will make, are making, or have made. The lunch was very cordial, and our conversation was open and honest, but without any vitriol. We are still divided on items here or there, but we now know where the other comes from and can have a little peace about it. Where do we go from here? We’ll see. I will say that we greeted with a “hello” and smile, but we parted with a hug.