Guest Post On Our Protester

Responding to Our Conservative Christian Brethren –

Last week as I was walking out from early service, a sign-carrying heckling Christian visitor, David, extolled his thoughts about same gender blessings, upon the St. Stephen  community as we entered and departed from the entrance of the Church.  When this happened, before I let a knee-jerk reaction escalate a potential relationship into an exasperated conflict, I took a deep breath, set myself aside, and engaged him with thoughtful understanding.  Upon listening to his position, I thought that I fulfilled a need of his somehow, to be heard.  After he could see that I would at least hear him out, he granted a courtesy of hearing some small part of how I thought of things.  I don’t think that either changed each other’s positions, but respectfully engaging him as a Christian brother was good, and a few misconceptions on both sides were clarified.  He thought we were throwing open the doors with an open invitation for any and all gays to come and be married in our church without pastoral care — and I thought he was the enemy.  I can understand someone speaking out in witness, I have done the same myself on occasion.

We are not alone in the world, and I came to see David as a portal connection to the other side of the issue, and an opportunity to build bridges rather than let untouched anger and resentment fester.  If he appears again, I might suggest that if anyone feels called to do so, to approach him and ask him just one question to elicit his explaining his thoughts.  No reaction to it, no contradiction, no statement of our position — just listening.  And then say “thank you.”  I’m sure he represents the opinion of a great many people who would not be so brazen as to speak out as he has.  Maybe by our offering of a willing ear and an attempt to understand might elicit the same.  Maybe we could learn to be as brazen as to live our lives with the commitment of our beliefs, and speak our mind with conviction as publically as he.

As to scripture, I might gain wisdom from I Corinthians 12: 21-25  Keeping in mind that he is part of the Body of Christ:

“The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.”  On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; whereas our more respectable members do not need this.  But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another.”

Maybe gracing another with care, could somehow bring upon us some care that we need even more.

Michael Payne

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5 thoughts on “Guest Post On Our Protester

  1. Thank you for your thoughtful post and for your gentle engagement with the protestor, Michael. We must be mindful that he is our brother, even when we disagree vehemently. Your actions and words are wonderful examples of Christ-like behavior.

  2. Michael, thank you for extending the hospitality St. Stephen’s in known for to David. I hoped that someone would offer a welcome, a drink of water, cup of coffee, a bite from the refreshment table when I first saw the story on Facebook. You did even more by offering the hospitality of listening. St. Stephen’s is a community of believers who extend God’s grace to all who come, even to the stranger in our midst who might trouble us. Thank you for representing those ideals of compassion and respect on Alabama Street last Sunday to David, a brother in Christ,

  3. I appreciated your even, dispassionate actions with David. I would like to think I could do the same, though I’m not sure I would have your courage and compassion. Still, I would hope so…

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