Monday, May 10, 2010

I Deny the Resurrection and I am not straight

The new issue of Salt Fresno is out, including lots of great stuff...
.....also including my article, "The Only Christian Response to Homosexuality and AIDs,"
in which I
Is that enough of a teaser?
Read it PP. 36-37 Here

Posted below, if link is dead:

The only Christian response to homosexuality and AIDS”
by Dave Wainscott, Salt Fresno, May 2010 issue

I once betrayed Jesus over a cup of cold water, and have many times denied his resurrection.

So I don't know why the editors have asked me to write on how Christians can relate to the homosexual community, particularly those with AIDS.

But with that provocative opening double-salvo, one thing I do know:

 I have some quick explaining to do.

How did I betray Jesus? Shamefully, I threw out a glass of water, just because someone who according to Scripture may well have been Jesus... or an angel in disguise...drank from it. 
(That story in a minute)

And how have I denied the resurrection? In the same way Peter Rollins confesses:

    Without equivocation or hesitation I fully and completely admit that I deny the resurrection of Christ.
     This is something that anyone who knows me could tell you, and I am not afraid to say it publicly, no matter what some people may think…     I deny the resurrection of Christ every time I do not serve at the feet of the oppressed, each day that I turn my back on the poor; I deny the resurrection of Christ when I close my ears to the cries of the downtrodden and lend my support to an unjust and corrupt system.     -Peter Rollins,

Whew! I got all that out of the way...and you feel better about me now, too, don't you?

But my confessions were not intended to be just a joke or creative introduction. They preface and contextualize everything I am about to say on this vital topic with the vital reminder:
 I, too, am imperfectly on the way to a fully-Christian response to homosexuality and AIDs.
 But I have been on that way ever since I choked on these words from artist Brian Healey twenty years ago:

"The only Christian response to AIDS is..."

Pause for a moment; in your mind, fill in the blank.

Did you fill it in the way Healey concludes?:

                                        "...relentless compassion."

I heard that "mic drop"!
...Maybe it was even a literal "magazine drop,:

What?  Not judgment?  Not even a mention of sin?
And pretty bold for 1990, too.

Mere months after being challenged by that quote, I was given a chance to stretch the quote from theory to practice.  I became friends with TV/movie star Dack Rambo, soon after he found new life in Christ...and became aware he was facing death by AIDS, contracted as a result of his pre-Christian lifestyle.

It seemed the whole town had ostracized him as a leper (Remember, this was not only a small town where news...especially sexy gossip…travels at lightning speed; but back when AIDS and its stigma were fairly new).  He had ventured out of his curtains-drawn exile to find me in my office; having heard the rumor that I, as a pastor in his hometown, would likely gift him with what he was seeking but not finding:


We had an amazing visit. In sacramental shiver and tears, we parted with prayer and embrace.  I'm sure (or sure hoping) he felt only love, not judgment, from me. 
But, after the visit, the betrayal.
 As I continued to weep and thank God for Dack, I did what Jesus wouldn't do:

                                        threw out the water glass he had drank from!

Now I could justify this sin by recognizing that back then, there was confusion about how one could contact AIDs (I didn’t want the next innocent church member who drank from the “infected” glass to “get” something sexual or stigmatizing). But throwing out as unclean a cup of cold water I had just given to a leper/angel/Jesus in thin disguise!?

I betrayed Jesus and denied his resurrection in that moment.

Must have been fear. 
Perhaps fear of what I might learn about me, as much as of what someone might catch from Dack.

Fuller Seminary president Richard Mouw is helpful:

    We fallen creatures do not like to admit our awareness of our abnormality, so we invent vocabularies to disguise it...Homosexuals are not necessarily gay. And the rest of us are not necessarily straight. We are all broken and crooked people. Christians should not be embarrassed to admit this. Most of us have not yet been transformed into fully 'normal' people, but we are on our way to normalcy...In the meantime, we know what to do with our sexual brokenness. We go to the cross and plead for mercy and healing. This experience gives us the message that we can present to other sexual sinners: join us at the cross!
    (Richard Mouw, "Uncommon Decency: Christian Civility in an Uncivil World," p. 84)

And this Rob Bell quote needs to be read thrice:

    "Our sexuality is all the ways we strive to reconnect with our world, with each other, and with God." (“Sex, God,”, p.41)

Please don’t read me as being soft on sin.  I agree with all the Bible says about sexuality and sin.  But I also agree with Tony Campolo’s suggestion that our evangelical motto “Love the sinner, hate the sin” rings hollow. He suggests that if we rephrase it as “Love the sinner, hateyour own sin,” the rest will take care of itself…and we’ll look a lot more like Jesus, and betray him a little less.

I would strongly recommend to all readers…and I require for myself …without being token (“Some of my best friends have AIDS”)….to seek out radically unconditional,  ruthlessly non-contingent friendship with a homosexual dying of AIDs. Pray that relentless compassion leads you embrace them…and  not to  toss out their cup, or deny the tears you will  inevitably share.

Remember Peter Rollins, who confessed denying the resurrection?  His confession and quote didn’t stop there. There’s more:

 However, there are moments when I affirm that resurrection, few and far between as they are. I affirm it when I stand up for those who are forced to live on their knees, when I speak for those who have had their tongues torn out, when I cry for those who have no more tears left to shed.

No denying it: I want to be; need to be; am called to be headed that way.
Don’t you?

1 comment:

Hey, thanks for engaging the conversation!