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My name is Josh, and I’m happy to be an invited guest blogger on Lead Them Home for the next two days. “Backfire” is a very appropriate theme for my friendship with Bill. You see, it took us quite some time to come to terms with each other’s views. In the beginning, I thought of Bill as – at best – a very misguided but well-intentioned man, and at worst, as an enemy over whom I needed to “win.”

Bill and I have clashed many times, never more adamantly than on the issue of homosexuality. At the time we met, I considered myself a “progressive Christian.” I took a very liberal perspective on scripture, ethics, and faith in general. This is not to say I was not spiritually dedicated and passionate about my evangelical heritage. Rather, I was often quite zealous about my conviction that Christ’s love is an all-inclusive, liberating force, even for the affirmation of gay and lesbian people, and this reflected a heart shaped by years of worship and study.

Today I do not identify as Christian, but I have not forgotten my roots, or the experiences that molded my convictions. Why would a liberal young adult who has left the Christian faith behind bother to talk to – much less cherish the friendship of – someone like Bill? Because I have found that behind our very stark differences is a common humanity and a heart’s concern that surpasses the tensions between us. This friendship has taught me the power and beauty of peacemaking, and I wish everyone could know that this sort of acceptance is possible.

I remain certain that full affirmation of healthy same-sex relationships is necessary, and in fact, is a matter of social justice. The love between my partner and I is one of the most precious things in my life. I know, to the core of my being, that this is something to celebrate. Amazingly, though, when I look into Bill’s eyes, I see no condemnation–in fact, I sense that his convictions are as solid and truthful as my own. Of course, there is not approval, but approval is not necessary for real charitable love and communion to exist. More than anything, this ironic friendship reminds me of the greatest gift Christianity offers humanity – a clear picture of the meaning of grace.

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