I'm a Christian. I stand with Jason Collins.
I feel the need to state this plainly because we live in a world where Christians have by and large failed the LGBT community and failed to follow through on the words and ministry of Christ. As I read column after column today on Jason Collins coming out I felt more and more persuaded to say something so that the only Christian voice in this discussion isn't one that condemns.
In the wake of Jason Collins coming out in Sports Illustrated, the Christian face of the reaction, at least in the sports world, is someone saying Collins should not be considered a Christian. That is not something I can silently stand by and watch happen because it is not consistent with the ministry of Christ.
I read the piece written by Jason Collins in Sports Illustrated and rejoiced when I passed over these words because I hoped they could begin to tear down the wall too many of us Christians have built up blocking out the LGBT world:
"I'm from a close-knit family. My parents instilled Christian values in me. They taught Sunday school, and I enjoyed lending a hand. I take the teachings of Jesus seriously, particularly the ones that touch on tolerance and understanding. On family trips, my parents made a point to expose us to new things, religious and cultural. In Utah, we visited the Mormon Salt Lake Temple. In Atlanta, the house of Martin Luther King Jr. That early exposure to otherness made me the guy who accepts everyone unconditionally."
Christianity and homosexuality are not mutually exclusive - Jason Collins' life is a testament to that fact. So is the life of Alan Gendreau. So are the lives of an uncountable number of Christians. Nevertheless, that has been the message that has been relayed for far too long.
There are verses in the Old and New Testament against homosexuality, yes. There are also verses against women speaking up in church and tattoos and wearing clothing woven of two kinds of material. To stake the entire Christian faith and gospel message on a person's sexual orientation or wearing 50/50 blend shirts is folly. This is why we must must look to the broader truths in Scripture and how it informs us about the characteristics of God. We must look at Christ's words that say the law and the prophets hang on loving God with all your heart, soul, and mind and loving others as yourself. The ministry of Christ was always about bringing people in - the poor, the sick, the sinners, the tax collectors, and more - never turning them away. One cannot reconcile the truths of a just God who loves unconditionally and values grace and free will with the condemnation of a homosexual person made in God's image. Christ came not to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
I don't write this to pile on certain people or certain viewpoints that may be viewed as antiquated. I believe the perspective widely viewed as "Christian" today on Jason Collins coming out is a misinterpretation of sin and grace. Sin is a free will choice where one turns away from God. Even if one is to unequivocally believe homosexuality is a sinful choice (a position that has not and may never be proven), one must also acknowledge that every believer sins. The wonderful freedom in being a Christian is the hope and knowledge that grace saves us from our sin because there is more grace in God than sin in us. And this entire discussion would be in a much better place if there was more grace from all 360 degrees. I readily admit to being one of those sinners because I know I turn away from God each day. Yet I know in spite of that, God's love and grace and acceptance for me and who I am does not change. For me, being a Christian means sharing that gift of grace with others, not condemnation.