Raised a social and religious conservative, when I was assigned service learning with a group of people that I was either uncomfortable with or uneducated about the choice was easy… I would work with the University’s LGBT center.
Up until that point in my life I had only been acquainted with maybe 2-3 individuals who were ‘out’ with their non-straight sexualities.
When I first was in the LGBT center the people were extremely welcoming. They introduced themselves, engaged me in conversation, and didn’t much mind that I was an ‘out’ evangelical. In fact, a few of them began talking to me about their own experiences with Christianity! I was accepted and embraced immediately.
Also during this time I had been out of organized religion for two years and was looking to get back in to a “Christian Community.”
I attended one group’s meeting the same night as the 2008 election. After the service some regulars were introducing themselves to me when an unknown group of students stopped and asked all of us standing there if we were Obama supporters. I told them I was, they announced that he won, we high-fived, and they were on their way.
Here is where my deep shame comes in…
When I turned around I was confronted by discomfort, disbelief, and anger. One of my new Christian friends even called me a “baby-killer” for supporting such a politician… Not exactly loving words.
But here is also where my great pride comes from…
I learned in those few weeks that Christians do not hold a monopoly on “LOVE”. True love (the sacrificial kind Jesus talks about) is capable of being experienced and expressed outside of the Christian community.
After that, the barriers in my life began breaking. My friends now include refugees and immigrants, addicts and sluts, Atheists and Muslims, the intellectually aloof and the physically disabled, Kenyans and Mexicans, and any other number of people I have had the pleasure of meeting that are different than me.
My deep shame is that I don’t want to be associated with the hateful rhetoric that has become synonymous with Christianity.
My great pride is that the love that I believe in is breaking through anyway.
I am proud of my friends who love me in spite of our differences and I will work to reconcile the relationships of those who resent me; because, as Shane Claiborne says in Follow Me To Freedom, “The best critique of something that is wrong is the practice of something better.”