Dear Pastor John,
Please forgive the greeting if it’s too personal from a total stranger. I don’t know you, but you’ve influenced my life through your writings; Don’t Waste Your Life was inspiring, and the final chapter of When I Don’t Desire God gave me hope during the dark wasteland of yet another depressive episode. I feel rather fond of you. Fond, but bewildered, too, and frustrated.
A few days ago, you tweeted,
“Good-bye, Burger King. (If you wonder why, watch the last five seconds of the video and weep,”
along with a link to the current BK video featuring their new “pride burger.”
They’re plain ‘ol BK burgers with rainbow-striped wrappers. “We’re all the same inside” appears on the inside of the wrapper. The video shows the reaction of various whopper-eaters, who are overcome with emotion at the realization of this truth. (Homosexuals are people, too? What a profound thought.)
At the end, a little girl, no more than three or four years old, stands between two women and tells the camera, “I love my two mommies.” So this is what made you weep? That a child has two women who love her, and who she loves in return? That’s more than many other children have.
It called to mind another of your tweets, where you said “good-bye” to Rob Bell and linked to a blog post about Bell’s book Love Wins. It wasn’t a favorable post. What made it odd, though, is that the book hadn’t been published yet, and the blogger (apparently) hadn’t read the book. It was all based on rumors that Bell was proclaiming universalism. Odd.
Okay, so I think I understand your position. You don’t want the homosexual lifestyle to be normalized in America. You don’t want universalism proclaimed as truth. I understand that. But are these “good-bye tweets” the best way to state your position?
In the case of Bell’s book, that tweet publicized it better than any publisher-funded campaign ever could. (I would never have heard Love Wins if not for the controversy. I read it; not because I cared what Rob Bell had to say, but because I wondered what everybody had gotten their dander up about.)
In the case of the BK video, the tweet sends a message to the LGBT community and others who love those within it: Good-bye. I will no longer associate with you because I disapprove of your lifestyle.
It doesn’t hurt me because I’m a lesbian; I’m not. But it hurts because it makes me wonder, deep inside, if you’d find ME so sinful and corrupt that you wouldn’t associate with me if we ever met. I have sin in my life. Persistent, nasty, vile sins, some of which I’ve flaunted and been praised for, others that I’ve hidden so deeply inside that nobody but God sees it. So would you say, “Good-bye, Laura Droege” or accept me as a human being?
What’s strange is that you are not a man who is careless with words. I’ve read your books; at last count, there’s eight of them on my shelves. You take exegesis of Scripture seriously. You are precise, deliberate with your thoughts. Even when I disagree with your conclusions, I can’t think that you didn’t put thought into your expression of those conclusions. You know the power of words.
So why do you use such dismissive words in a tweet? Surely you realize that this phrase will be interpreted as shutting the door on an entire segment of the population.
And why the dismissive attitude? Why cut ties with a corporation (Burger King) or person (Rob Bell) because you don’t agree with them? Surely you don’t do this offline.
If a friend or family member came to you and announced that he believed in universal salvation or that she was marrying a same sex partner, would you say, “So long, farewell, goodbye. I can’t talk to you anymore because of this theological difference”?
No. You’d reason with them. You’d pray for them. You’d weep over their sin, and try to win them to Christ. You’d use the Bible and prayer, compassion and empathy born from the knowledge that we are all sinners, all prone to fall into temptation and believe false doctrines, all in need of a Savior. BK’s “pride burgers” got it right: we ARE all the same inside.
The one thing you wouldn’t do, I think, is tweet a public farewell to this person. At least, I hope not.
Why not view this video or this book as an opportunity to dialogue with others and love them? It’s an open door, a place where we can say “Hello, it’s good to meet you!” and walk into someone’s life. I can’t learn about someone or from someone if I slam the door in her face. I miss an opportunity to grow as a person or have a new friend or reach out from my normal self-absorbed lifestyle and love someone else just as he is.
In Frozen, Anna and Hans sing, “Love is an open door,” and it’s true (even if Hans is a dastardly heart-breaker). I can’t love a person without accepting him or her.
I accept the person, even if I don’t approve of the behavior. I do this all the time with myself: love Laura, but recognize that Laura-behavior isn’t always that great. Why not extend this same courtesy to others?
And that acceptance includes you. I accept you as my brother in Christ, even when I cannot approve of your tweets. I’d really like to know your motivations. I’d like to understand your opinions and why you interpret things the way that you do.
But I can’t do that if I slam the door shut and sing “So Long, Farewell” like an eighth, notably tone deaf member of the von Trapp family. So,
Hello, Pastor John.
You are welcomed.
You are loved.
And you are accepted, because Christ first accepted me.
Your sister in Christ,