A couple of weeks ago my good friend Peter Kockelman and I had the privilege of proclaiming the truth of God’s mercy to transform His broken image in humanity—right in the middle of the Castro, arguably San Francisco’s (and the country’s) most notorious gay district.
After the church service, we ate in a restaurant of mostly gay clientele. Among them was a young man, sitting alone, desperately seeking the attention of other men. He looked in earnest, awaiting some masculine source of strength and tenderness to see him and initiate connection with him. No-one did. While he was leaving, I pursued him to bless him and let him know of the Lord’s special attentiveness toward him.
He looked confused at first, then lit up when he realized I meant no harm. He lit up because I saw him and attended to him, as if he mattered. He matters not because of some special allure he possesses, but because he bears the Father’s image and that Father wants him above all else.
We cannot give the gay community all that it wants, e.g. gay marriage. But we can give its seeking members what they need—the Father’s justice to them revealed in Jesus Christ and His mercy. Mercy alone satisfies the cry of the misdirected heart.
In that way, we must not think that voting down gay marriage should be our only goal in these forty days of prayer and fasting. Reclaiming those bound by perversion must be our goal as well. Let us pray that we will be all the more inclined in these days to manifest God’s justice to those driven and deceived by their same-sex attraction. It is not enough to halt the advance of activists; we must serve justice to the oppressed through the power of God’s mercy.
My freedom today as a man and priest is based wholly on that mercy. To this day I am reminded continuously of that mercy. He draws me to himself daily; even and especially in my weakness, He is faithful to free me to love according to His design. He never hides His face from me but rather shines brighter when shadows fall. Truly Jesus ‘works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed’ (Ps 103:6); for this oppressed one most of all!
He did so and continues to do so through faithful believers who upheld the truth of God’s best for me, e.g. His design. At the same time, they extended extravagant mercy that served to reclaim that design in me. May we pour out that mercy in this hour to every wandering soul!
We at Desert Stream cry out for justice in the land through fighting for the correct and holy definition of marriage; that is just for all, especially for generations yet to come.
But we believe that our cry has authority only to the degree that we are continuously extending mercy to those oppressed by homosexuality. That is our expressed goal: to equip the church to be God’s arm of justice for them. That grants us authority to fight on the state-wide level. Were we not serving justice in the healing ‘trenches’, our conviction about public-policy would be a ‘resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.’
That was the trouble with Israel. She wondered why God wasn’t blessing her; they were doing all the right religious things—praying and fasting, upholding the letter of the law. But she was acting terribly toward others. Her religious practices failed to include real justice for really oppressed people!
Similarly, those who oppose gays politically may be ‘in the right’ on one hand. But when that opposition is fueled by fear and hatred of them do a disservice to all. We must restrain perversion by loving well those who bear God’s image and who need a better way than self-justifying activism.
Mercy, acts of kindness, loving attentiveness to their needs as persons: that pleases the Lord. And that has power to serve justice as mightily as voting down gay marriage.
Similarly, Isaiah exhorts us “to do way with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and to spend ourselves on behalf of the hungry, and to satisfy the needs of the oppressed.” (Is.58:9, 10)
That is the fast God chooses for us—to serve justice through mercifully attending to the needs of the oppressed. The gay community has needs that they cannot meet for themselves. We alone as Christ’s body have keys ‘to loose chains of injustice, to break every yoke, to share the food we have received, to clothe the wanderer, to turn toward our own flesh and blood with the hope of Jesus” (vs.6,7); that is God’s chosen fast for us in this hour.
We can be right about something (gay marriage) being wrong, and yet so much more in error than the object of out scorn (the community pushing for it!) That community needs restraint politically but unrestrained mercy individually.
Let us serve justice fully and so please the Lord. We cannot give the gay community all that they want, but we can give them what they need.
Honor marriage for the good of all. Vote YES on Prop. 8.
“Father, forgive us for being so politically-minded that we lose the fullness of Your justice. Help us to see the needs of the gay community and seek to meet those needs mercifully, one individual at a time. You have given mercy freely to us; help us to give it away freely. Forgive us for the ‘pointing finger and malicious talk.’ Free us for the fullness of Your justice.”