This past weekend Chicago, along with many other US cities, celebrated Gay Pride with a parade. As a part of the weekend, Nathan and a group of over 30 Christians from various Chicago churches went to demonstrate at the Gay Pride Parade with the Marin Foundation.
Their demonstration was much different, though.
The volunteers wore black t-shirts with the phrase “I’m Sorry” on the front and held signs with messages of apology, on behalf of all Christians, for the way the church has treated the gay community.
And how did parade-goers respond, I wonder?
Nathan posted a story from the Pride Parade outreach on his blog that absolutely needs to be heard…Here’s some excerpts…
What I loved most about the day is when people “got it.” I loved watching people’s faces as they saw our shirts, read the signs, and looked back at us. Responses were incredible. Some people blew us kisses, some hugged us, some screamed thank you. A couple ladies walked up and said we were the best thing they had seen all day.
Watching people recognize our apology brought me to tears many times. It was reconciliation personified.
The recipients of the apology seemed genuinely moved to get it, and it certainly created a connection and opened channels of communication between the two groups that were previously shut tight. The apologizing group (also known as the Marin Foundation) has clearly made a connection with some people that could be the beginning of a great awakening to God’s grace.
It’s hard to argue with results. And goodness knows, I hate to be Mr. Comedown amidst all the happy crying and hugging. However, there are some things about the whole apology strategy that concern me.
And when you apologize, you create the impression not only that you were wrong, but that the other side was right. It’s easy to look at the group and think that their message is that the church was wrong the whole time and homosexuality is actually okie-dokie. That’s clearly the impression that this writer got, though I’ll note she was disappointed when she looked into the Marin Foundation further and found some lingering traces of the word “sin.” (Her disappointment, my encouragement.) If they’re saying that homosexuality isn’t a sin, that’s wrong, but if that’s not what they’re saying and they’re using their “I’m Sorry” t-shirts to bait-and-switch homosexuals, that’s wrong too.
It’s a delicate area of ministry, to say the least. And I do have a distinct backseat driver feeling for criticizing people who are on the front lines, trying to show Jesus to people who desperately need Him. Their representatives talk a lot about fostering “reconciliation” between the church and the gay community, but another “r” word that should be featured more prominently in their message is “repentance.” It’s an old word, but an important one. I don’t know a lot about what goes on at gay pride parades, but I’m pretty sure repentance isn’t part of the show. If apology is warranted, that may not be the place for it.