Monday, April 23, 2012

Beyond acceptance to reconciliation

I'm not sure why an event that happened during the summer of 2010 is being commented on in the Huffington Post this week. No matter. It's a good story.

We start with Nathan, who used to be a "Bible-banging homophobe." I'm sure there's a good story in the phrase "used to be" but that wasn't included. Nathan and like-minded friends went to the Chicago's Pride parade with shirts proclaiming, "I'm Sorry" and signs that said, "I'm sorry for how the church has treated you." They worked their way to the front of the crowd so their signs could be read from the parade participants.

The story shifts to Tristan. He was on one of the floats in the parade. He was dancing and wearing only white shorts. Tristan saw the shirts and wondered what they had to be sorry about. Then he saw the signs and that was enough to interrupt his dance. By then his float had passed Nathan. Even so, Tristan jumped off the float, bounded over to the group and gave Nathan a big hug.

Nathan wrote about the encounter later. The post includes a photo of the hug. Nathan wrote:
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.

But there isn’t always reconciliation. And when there isn’t reconciliation, there isn’t full acceptance. Reconciliation is more painful; it’s more difficult. 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.

Later, Tristan told Nathan about himself, which Nathan posted on his blog.

I found Nathan's most recent post. He contrasts two types of Christians. One type mistakenly believes they are worthy of acceptance because of what they have personally done. Therefore they become prideful -- See how good I am! -- and they do all they can to deflect criticism to make sure their worthiness can't be questioned. Their opponents aren't simply mistaken, they are "dishonest sellouts." These are the kind who don't like gay people.

The other type of Christian understands he or she is worthy simply by being. When they encounter conflict, they are respectful, gracious, and take the meeting as an opportunity to learn something.

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