I will never forget the scene: a Pentecostal church in the suburbs of Chicago; a group of parishioners gathered for a workshop about ways the congregation can be a welcoming place for gays and lesbians; the presenter, Andrew Marin, who had grown up in the church, holding the tension as some of the attenders were having visceral, deep and emotional reactions to the idea of welcoming gays and lesbians. Andrew, a young heterosexual, understands the response. He had been there himself. What Andrew also understood – something that I did not until that day – was that it is often love, not ignorance and hate that causes so much division. On this particular day, I marveled as Andrew was able to pray with two women who had been the most vocal, until they broke down in tears, acknowledging that they love their church, the Bible, God, and they loved their lesbian daughter in one case, and sister in another. They felt they were being torn apart, and in that moment, the tension was overwhelming.
A few years later, Andrew wrote a book called “Love is an Orientation”. Unlike the William Penn saying “Let us try, then, what love will do” as if to say “after we have tried persuasion and argument, let’s try love”, Andrew’s work at its best is not about persuasion, but about loving. His work focuses on the bridge. His personal actions go deeper – showing up at gay pride parades with “I’m sorry” signs that show a respect for the power of healing and forgiveness. But it is his bridge-building that impresses me. I don’t always agree with his words or his sentiments, and he certainly has plenty of critics on both sides of the lgbtq divide. But as his quote below reminds me, and may be of benefit to many who desire greater peace and seek to build bridges:
“Inherent within bridge building is the necessity to intentionally partner with and work with both worldviews. Building bridges does not mean everyone will eventually agree. It means both worldviews can view each other through a lens of worth based on their shared humanity.” (from Our Last Option, Chapter 4)
Submitted by Brad Ogilvie