I definitely need to get this off of my chest.
It's been bothering me for quite awhile now; you see, I've been trying to ignore the weight of all of these descriptive words. Actually, come to think of it, after reading that last sentence, I realize that many may question how being white, for instance, is "weighty."
Allow me to briefly explain. Much of the words which describe me have been linked to some pretty serious allegations:
I know that there has been and continues to be an uneasiness and awkwardness when a gay person is in the midst of a Christian family or community.
I know that there are numerous ways that America has favored and continues to favor white people.
I know that, in the name of Jesus, churches have judged or labeled people unfairly based on skin color, demeanor, age, or social standing.
I know that there has been a patriarchal bias in our country that has carried over from England and still has plenty of remnants today, even in the Christian world.
I know that, having never experienced empty cupboards, homelessness, or even a lack of transportation, I don't have a clue what hopelessness feels like.
Finally, I know how many hundreds of thousands of people have suffered mistreatment, bias, or abuse at the hands of church leaders that they trusted.
Oh yea, I'm a pastor as well . . . what does that do for your labeling of me?
How much am I trying to distance myself from the history of "my kind"? Well, all of the things just mentioned, actually.
How much do I need to outright apologize for? If it does any lasting good, I would love to be a part of apologizing to the many people who have suffered as a result of the actions of those that have common histories as myself.
How much of my heritage am I proud of? Actually, a great majority of it. You see, I have very little knowledge of people in my personal history that are guilty of anything above (outside of a former pastor of mine that was, unbeknownst to me, taking advantage of teenage girls while I knew him). My parents have accepted people into their home for pizza night without taking into consideration their background or beliefs. God has chosen to, for some reason, surround me with people who have done nothing but encourage me, equip me, and prepare me for making good life choices. I am currently part of a movement of churches that are passionate about getting things right, whether it be teaching from the Bible, ministry done in a safe way, or helping people recover from all sorts of troubles this world brings on. Do we always get it right? No. Do we prayerfully seek God in making decisions? Yes.
Each of us has stuff from our personal, ethnic, or general history that we aren't proud of.
Each of us,also, has things outside of our control or input that has shaped who we are and where we're currently standing.
I am most certainly not a racist, for I do not determine value based on color of skin or on ethnic background. I am most certainly not a homophobe, for I know that each person is created in God's image and that each person has the same need for a Savior. I am most certainly aware of my privilege, for how I treat and think about other people is mainly the result of the beautiful people who raised me and the additional people that have shaped me the first 52 years of my life.
I have lots of growing to do. As I talk with friends who have opposite views as I about __________ (fill in the blank), I realize how much I don't understand and how much God continues to heap His mercy and grace on me and us.