Sharing God’s goodness is never a failure

Guest Commentary

[Ed. Note — Like all newspapers, qnotes strives to ensure our opinion and editorial pages are open to community discussion and thought-provoking conversation. Such openness isn’t limited to only our LGBT and ally readers. Below, you will find a response from anti-LGBT activist and religious leader Dr. Michael Brown, to my editorial, “Anti-gay Pride outreach was spectacular failure,” in the Sept. 13 print edition (goqnotes.com/24888/). Letters to the editor (approximately 200 words) and guest commentaries (approximately 600 words) are always welcome and can be emailed to editor@goqnotes.com. — Matt Comer, editor]

According to qnotes editor Matt Comer, the outreach I helped organize at the recent Charlotte Pride event was a “spectacular failure.” I beg to differ, and with good reason.

Matt was referring to the outreach involving students and grads from FIRE School of Ministry. They used a survey entitled “Are You Open Minded” to gain insights into the views of those participating in Charlotte Pride, as well as to ask them if they needed prayer for anything.

In years past, we had been involved in different ways at the event, making clear that we had our differences with many gay activist goals while at the same time demonstrating genuine, Christian love in the midst of our differences.

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Four years ago, when nearly 500 of us prayed and worshiped across the street from the event, we were joined by a local lesbian activist with whom I subsequently shared a meal. She told us that when she interacted with our group, she met with “radical love.”

Two years ago, several hundred of our friends and colleagues (including families with their kids, all wearing “God Has a Better Way” T-shirts) handed out bottles of water that said, “Jesus Loves You.” According to one local gay activist with whom I had dinner last year, our presence at the event was the “gold standard” for a “model Christian protest.” So yes, we have our differences, but we will conduct ourselves with love and respect.

In fact, this same activist had organized a protest outside of our church in Concord in August 2012, but after a short time there, he called off the event, saying that our congregants were too nice to deserve a protest. He even called my radio show the next day to state that he and his group met with the “perfect love of God” and he wanted to apologize for the protest.

I told him that I was happy to forgive him, but honestly felt he owed us no apology — after all, he was simply acting on his convictions. The big question I had was this: Since we both have deep convictions and live in the same city, how we can be better neighbors? It was this question that led to our subsequent dinner.

This year, as I prayed about what involvement to have in the event, I felt that we would not be obtrusive in any way. Rather, about 40 of our students and grads would ask people if they wanted to answer questions to a survey, telling anyone that asked them that they attended FIRE School of Ministry, also informing anyone who asked that we would post the results of the survey on my website, AskDrBrown.org, as well as mention the results on my radio show that Monday.

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There was obviously no intention to mislead in any way, and although Matt says he spoke with some attendees who felt tricked by us — something for which I immediately and without hesitation apologized for when he shared it with me — our students came back with very different reports, saying that they did not have one hostile conversation, that many of the folks they talked with wanted prayer and that some were open to hear more of the gospel.

According to Matt, in the past, my colleagues and I have “interacted with attendees, prayed with attendees and spread harmful, false and hate-filled messages — driving an already outcast community further away from the church rather than closer to it.”

In all candor, what is harmful, false and hate-filled is Matt’s description, further driving a wedge between us.

But don’t take my word for it. Visit one of our church services; sit down and have a meal with me and my friends; invite us to attend one of your church services; or help schedule a private dialog among peer leaders, where we can honestly and candidly address our differences face to face.

Our door is open. : :

— Dr. Michael Brown is host of the nationally-syndicated Line of Fire broadcast, which airs Monday-Friday in Charlotte from 2-4 p.m. on 960 AM and 105.7 FM.

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7 Replies to “Sharing God’s goodness is never a failure”

  1. I believe that if a person who has confessed Jesus Christ as their savior and made Him Lord over their life, it will become extremely difficult to continue in any inappropriate sexual practices including but not limited to homosexualality.
    There is no reason I can think of that should prevent anybody who confesses Christ as their savior to meet with and share meals with people who are going through such things. I know The Lord works in each person differently to bring them to a place where they can see that what they have been doing is wrong. The Bible clearly says that homosexuals and adulterers will not inherit the kingdom, as well as liars, fornicaters, thieves and murderers. I’m not gay, but I have had my own struggles with certain things. These things became very hard to practice as the Holy Spirit worked in my heart, it was like a wrestling match! I tried to justify my bad behavior that I thought wasn’t so bad but I felt deep conviction each time! Until it came to the point that I knew it was wrong and I was rebelling!
    Love is the only debt we are allowed to owe. If a person has turned their life over to Christ we need to be there for them no matter what it is that they’re struggling with. The Lord will do the inner work.

  2. Listen to Dr. Brown’s recent interview with Matt Comer: bit.ly/1dV3n3N

  3. Dr Brown,

    I think a big part of the problem is that you seem to think you understand this issue when you clearly do not. You have absolutely no idea what it means to grow up in this country being gay especially in the evangelical community. So it becomes insulting for you to even pretend you know anything about this subject much less write a book about it.

    I spent years of my life isolated and alone in this issue because of the reckless and ignorance views of those in the church. I contemplated suicide many times in my life the first when I was 15 years old when I realized I was gay. I spent many years after that thinking God could somehow change me. Those years were excruciatingly painful.

    I am now 45 years old and it was only about 4 years ago that I actually sat down with another gay person and talked about being gay and then got the help I needed. I have never been more happy and whole than I am now because I can finally just be myself and be around people that love and understand me. That includes being in a church where I do not have to hide who I am.

    You somehow think that this is just about sex. Is your sexuality just a sexual act? Is that all your marriage to your wife is about? As your friend Andrew Marin once said ” Christians reduce being gay down to a sexual act and then blame them for it”. I know gay couples that have relationships that many couples in the evangelical church could learn a great deal from.

    Yes you do contribute to the harm of many in the gay community through your short sided views. Just because you are “polite” or have good intentions does not mean what you say is not damaging. When we have kids not taking their own lives because they are gay then we can sit down and have a friendly debate about this subject. Until then you may want to shut up and do more listening than talking.

  4. FIRST– I do not know why Brown insists on inflating the numbers at Pride Charlotte 2011. It was categorically NOT 500. I think he admitted that he was wrong about that, but still, he retells over and over the number 500. I sat across the street and watched the crowd leave. To the best of my counting it was 175- 180 people (counting children and toddlers in strollers) and 28 street evangelists. Somewhat and significantly lower than 500 people.

    The water bottles did have the Jesus Loves You message on them AND a link to a site directing people to Exodus for reparative therapy. “Oh, come let me hug you in Christian love and stab you in the back with razors telling you that you must change for God to accept you. ” Of course, Exodus is now closed after 37 years of not changing orientation and reparative therapy is stated as harmful by medical health professionals. All that aside — Jesus DOES love you.

    I spoke to the gay dinner guest of Brown’s — he paints a tolerant picture. I wonder if Brown has followed up AT ALL to establish relationship with that couple. As far as I know, the answer is no. But, golly, we sure do hear about the one dinner an awful lot.

    I think Brown was out of the country when the protest was outside his church. I believe most churches I know of would have reacted similarly, so good for them that they did! Coming into Pride and gawking — not so good on them. Here is my account. http://canyonwalkerconnections.com/god-has-a-better-way-dont-stand-in-the-path-of-it/

    As to the survey, I was with a group of approximately 60 Christians of varying sexual orientations and genders; not one of Brown’s the students came to speak to anyone of us. We were clearly self identified as Christians. It may have been interesting for one of those students to come to speak to anyone of us who certainly would’ve had opinions on this issue. Yes it did not happen.

    This is a link to a website that lists all affirming churches and certainly the ones in North Carolina. If Brown is desirous of being amongst his gay and lesbian Christian brothers and sisters all he need do is go to this link and show up at the service.

    http://www.gaychurch.org/find_a_church/

    No invitation is needed you just show up. In writing his book, as far as I could see Brown had never attended a service affirming of is gay brothers and sisters. That seems to be a rather large oversight when someone writes a chapter on “queer theology.” I would strongly encourage Brown to visit several of these congregation as he prepares to write a book asserting that people cannot be both gay and Christian and in a mutual relationship.

    Brown says he is approaching the subject with compassion. I would suggest that he also approach the subject with some knowledge, and some input put from gay Christians and that includes experience and sitting down to make them for more than one meal. It includes building relationship and listening to people. I do not hear of ongoing stories of relationships with LGBT people; I hear the same ones over and over a person on a plane, the person at an airport, a meal with one person.

    This is not how you build relationship with the community. This is not how you come to understand where they are in their theology and relationships with God. This is not the basis from which one should be writing a book.

    It is often from the insights of relationship that one is able to revisits Scripture. With the cultural lenses of discrimination removed, and with the personal insights that relationship with gay people does bring it becomes apparent when one does revisit the scripture that there is a more accurate reading of Scripture then has been present in the last 40 years in the conservative church, with respect to the gay community.

    Several of people were at tthe Wall of Love at Charlotte Pride are from the local area– from Rock hill and from Hickory, and from Charlotte. I encourage Brown to visit one of those churches; he too would be welcome there.

    As a final point, I sure as heck hope that Brown is keeping his “love” far away from Russia; they do not need his reflection of Jesus in that volatile country where the LGBT community is suffering greatly at the hands of ignorance.

  5. I was one of the students from Dr. Brown’s ministry who participated in the survey at the Charlotte Pride Event. I was with another student and as we were conducting the surveys, we were able to engage in great dialogue with many people. It was refreshing to be able to speak with someone with a difference of opinion but to still be able to treat each other with the utmost respect. We spoke with 3 ladies who actually thanked us for the way we were conducting ourselves and said that there was a clear distinction between how we handled ourselves vs others who are abrasive and condescending. I am glad I was able to participate in the survey so that even though I am clearly no expert, I do have a better understanding of the LGBT community.

    Matt, thank you for being willing to dialogue with Dr. Brown and for publishing his responses to your articles here on QNOTES!

  6. I was one of the students involved in the survey, alongside another student, and we had a great time talking to the people at Charlotte Pride Event.

  7. Personally, I could not care less what Mr. Brown thinks. I’m not the one proselytizing my beliefs onto others.

    I don’t have rallies outside his church. I and my friends don’t go anywhere near any of the outings and events his church holds for it’s congregation. I simply ask the same courtesy of Mr. Brown. Since we hold vastly different views on sexuality, humanity, and Christianity, I just ask that if I stay away from you, will you please stay away from me!

    On another point, while I can understand the thoughts for allowing Mr. Brown to contribute his opinion, I think the choice QNotes made to actually publish the opinion of this bigoted person was incorrect. Now maybe if he was going to apologize for even attending an event where he, his followers,and message were NOT welcome, maybe that I might want to read; but to read his words, as he’s being allowed to attempt to explain away and excuse his beliefs and teachings of hatred and bigotry, well to read that in an LGBTQ magazine really gets on my nerves.

    Hopefully you won’t next be giving the opinion page over to Fred Phelps to “explain” his bigotry. 😉

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