A friend of mine, a music teacher in Indiana, is working on a master’s degree in his field. Recently, he talked with me about what he is reading and learning in his studies: specifically, the importance of posture.
For an orchestra conductor, posture is extremely important. Every arm movement, every change of stance, even the most minute of gestures can communicate messages instantaneously to the members of the orchestra. Bad posture leads to bad conducting, because the messages communicated by the conductor are confusing and inappropriate. Good posture requires the coordination of many muscle groups throughout the body, which in turn requires exercise and discipline. Conducting is no simple task, and conductors must learn how to pay attention to their posture at all times.
I am concerned that Christians have bad posture when it comes to the LGBT issues that we are facing these days.
Gay marriage is now legal throughout the United States. The Boy Scouts of America now allows gay boys and gay leaders. Some churches are scrambling to see if their bylaws are sufficient to ward off gay-marriage lawsuits. Some churches are celebrating the new marriages of their long-term gay members. Gay, lesbian, and transgender celebrities dominate the headlines.
Check your posture about these issues. What are your reactions? How do you feel? Are you hopeful for the future, or not? Are you able to see all sides of these issues, or not? How do you talk about these issues with your family, your friends, in private, and in public?
I believe we Christians – especially conservative Christians – have a posture problem. We are communicating negative messages to each other, to our communities, and to our world through how we are reacting to today’s LGBT issues.
Which of these, if any, describes your posture?
- Aggression. Some Christians want to stand up for the truth. They want to ban same-sex marriages. They protest court decisions and write angry Facebook posts about how wrong this situation is. They believe present-day culture is flat-out wrong about homosexuality. Their posture is one of aggression.
- Pain. Some Christians have experienced emotional pain because someone dear to them has come out as homosexual. Relationships have been broken because of this issue. Some know the pain of coming out as gay to church families that do not accept them. Their posture is one of pain.
- Isolation. Some Christians would rather pretend that LGBT people do not exist. They are shocked and surprised by the legalization of same-sex marriage, because they did not think it was that prevalent of a situation. They want to deny the reality of same-sex issues, especially when confronted with personal situations. Their posture is one of isolation.
- Disgust. Some Christians simply cannot fathom how, for instance, a man could be attracted to another man. The very idea of gay sex is so revolting that they believe same-sex relationships and marriages must be immoral. They want to move to a more conservative country where same-sex issues are not as prevalent. Their posture is one of disgust.
- Happiness. Some Christians – and I would guess most liberal Christians – are thrilled by the broader acceptance of the LGBT community in today’s society. They celebrate with their gay and lesbian friends who are now legally able to marry. They are saddened that so many other Christians seem to be dragging their feet on this issue. Their posture is one of happiness.
- Fear. Some Christians – and I would guess most conservative Christians – are afraid of what the future holds. They proclaim “slippery slope” arguments, such as the inevitable rise of polygamy, bestiality, and child marriage. They are upset with what this country has become and yearn for the days of previous generations when this country was more God-fearing. They are afraid that they will be forced to host, bless, perform, decorate, cater, and attend same-sex marriages. They are afraid of lawsuits. They fear the possibility of one of their relatives coming out as gay or lesbian. Their posture is one of fear.
These are not all of the options, of course. But do any of these postures describe you? Do you react to the issue of homosexuality from any of these perspectives? How should a Christian respond to LGBT issues today?
Each of the above postures can lead to a significant problem:
- Aggression can cut off lines of communication and make the gospel message more and more unheard and irrelevant.
- Pain can color our interactions so much that we only think of ourselves and not of the needs, feelings, or situations of others.
- Isolation can remove the gospel message even further from public conversation, making both evangelism and social justice more difficult to accomplish.
- Disgust, like aggression, can eliminate the possibility of relationship. It can also elevate a moral issue above the gospel message.
- Happiness can lead to a flippant attitude toward spiritual formation by assuming that “that which is” must be right, thus denying the power and necessity of transformation in Christ.
- Fear can cause us to lose sight of the good and unshakable kingdom of God. It can reveal our trust in systems of this world rather than in the God of the universe.
We each have impulses and gut-level reactions when it comes to the question of same-sex marriage and other LGBT issues. Please realize that all of the above discussion, I have not intended to declare my personal beliefs. I am simply trying to point out what I have observed over the past few months in many Christians, near and far away.
What if we worked toward adopting one significantly different posture on this issue? What if we checked our impulses and prayed for God to transform us to achieve this posture? What if we gauged our interactions with others, gay and straight alike, against this posture? What if we were so transformed that every movement, stance, and gesture reflected this posture?
- Love. Love is patient. Love is kind. Love does not envy. Love does not boast. Love is not proud. Love is not rude. Love is not self-seeking. Love is not easily angered. Love keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a NIV)
Think about your posture regarding LGBT issues. Then read the above passage of scripture one more time. Then imagine if love were your posture all the time. Then read the scripture again. And again.
Loving is no simple task, and Christians who want to love well must learn how to pay attention to their posture at all times.