I have a friend that I think quite highly of. He’s younger than I am, although not by many years. He’s been through bumps with churches and family, and spent some time in the wilderness. But he is gentle, and kind, with a loving, Christ-like heart.
When the Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage was handed down in June, my friend went ballistic, but not for the reason you might think. He supported the decision. What he went ballistic over, even before much had been said, was where he thought the evangelical church was going wrong in its reaction. There hadn’t been much time for the evangelical church to do or say anything, but it was his expectation that suddenly turned this kind, gentle, Christ-like heart into a ranting, raving, almost irrational person, filled with anger and venom.
I was stunned. I’m a part of the evangelical church he was ranting against. The decision went the way he wanted it to go, and he was filled with anger at the “side” which seemed to have “lost.” As that “side” responded, his anger increased. I could barely stand to read his words on Facebook. He was spending hour upon hour looking for commentary to attack evangelicals, and, of course, he found it. He almost gleefully posted link after link.
I read each of the stories he linked to, not because I wanted to argue or disagree, but because I tried to understand what my friend’s motivation was. Generally, he posted links to people who were responding much like he was – Christian supporters of the decision who were furious with the evangelical church.
I don’t know what happened to my friend’s loving, kind heart. I believe it’s still there, but right now it's submerged under a sea of anger. I suspect I know what’s going on, but it would not be productive to talk with him right now, and possibly not for some time to come.
So what I do is pray, pray for him, pray that his anger cools, pray that his Christ-like heart resurfaces and the love for which he’s known becomes apparent again.
The court’s decision was both an ending and a beginning, for all of us. In some significant ways, this decision was different from previous watershed decisions, like Roe v. Wade. This one is a game-changer in ways that we can’t fully comprehend yet. The decision wasn’t, or shouldn’t have been, a surprise to anyone.
What lies ahead is the tough work of the church figuring out what to do as a result.
In The Hiding Place, Corrie Ten Boom tells the story of Karel, the young man she fell in love with at age 14. Her love for him, which was eventually returned, lasted until she was 21. And then one day he introduces her to his fiancée, devastating her. His family wanted him to marry well, and he knew that the daughter of a watch shop owner was not the definition of “marrying well.”
What she believed about the relationship turned out to be untrue. She had somewhat deceiving herself, ignoring the signs that something was different, that something was wrong.
In the midst of her devastation, her father gives her some words: “Corrie, do you know what hurts so very much? It’s love. Love is the strongest force in the world, and when it is blocked that means pain. There are two things we can do when this happens. We can kill the love so that it stops hurting. Then of course part of us dies, too. Or we can ask God to open up another route for that love to travel…Whenever we cannot love in the human way, Corrie, God can give us the perfect way.”
And that’s my prayer for me regarding my friend – that God will open up another route for that love to travel.
Led by Jason Stasyszen and Sarah Salter, we’ve been reading and discussing The Hiding Place. For more posts on this chapter, “Karel,” please visit Sarah at LivingBetween the Lines.
Photograph by Jon Luty via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.