Maybe it’s because I’m a Christian who happens to be an artist, or an artist who happens to be a Christian. Maybe it’s because Ellen Degeneres is one of only 2 comedians I’ve ever gone to see live many years ago (the other was Eddie Izzard). Maybe it’s because I’m just fed up with a certain ongoing badminton game of opinions that’s been going on for decades, if not centuries. But when I read about this recent “controversy,” I automatically grabbed my laptop and started WordPressing…
I’ve just discovered a kindred spirit and don’t know how I hadn’t heard of her till now… I came across an article about a Christian singer who’d been on Ellen. The heading was something about her receiving criticism. Silly me, I thought maybe someone who isn’t a Christian had criticized her singing a song about Christ on national tv. But then I was reminded of the judgmentalism that is still, very sadly, rampant in the people who claim to follow Christ. It was them criticizing Lauren for something I find so absurd that I had to write my first blog post in ages about it…
The “controversial” thing Lauren did was… wait for it…
Lauren was on the Ellen show. Yup. That’s it. And this was controversial why? Because Ellen is (gasp) gay. Really, people? That’s what you took away from the fact that Ellen had a Christian singer on her show singing a song about Jesus?
When I read about Lauren’s response to being questioned about her “radical” act, I instantly knew she was a kindred spirit. You can read that here. Her response was drenched in grace and wisdom.
As a Christian who is thankful to know many people who are not in the judgmental camp, I’m compelled to say to the Christians who think they are in a place to judge gay, or any other people: get over yourselves. You’re not doing Jesus any favours.
Certain types of scripture quoting are nothing short of pharaseeism/religion clothed as concern about people’s souls.
I know some who read this may be prone to judgment, so I’m extending some suggestions for how to overcome this and hope it will help…
- Ask yourself how many gay or trans people you actually know personally.
- Become friends with LGBTQ people and get to know them.
- Listen to people’s stories without having an agenda.
- Read up on how many LGBTQ people have struggled with suicidal thoughts due to being raised in families and churches where they couldn’t discuss how they felt for fear of being ostracized by people who claimed to love them. Perhaps watch the movie Boy Erased.
- Read the stories in the Bible about the people Jesus called to follow him. Take note: they weren’t the Pharisees; they thought they already had God all figured out and that it was their place to look down their noses at those “sinful,” “other” people.
- Get over the notion of “other people.” God loves us all. Just because some people may not know it or believe it, doesn’t make them any less loved. Judging them doesn’t help them believe it.
- Look in the mirror and focus on keeping your own heart pure (single-minded) rather than assessing the purity of others. Put simply, BEGIN WITHIN.
- Instead of sitting behind the screen judging gay people, find something more productive to do with your time.
- Connect to how deeply and profoundly you are loved by God, no matter what, so that you can freely love others without needing to judge them.
This is a topic I haven’t commented on much (apart from my post called A Deeper Compassion: Entering the Transgender Discussion) because of the drama that goes with talking about stuff like this and how people just loooove to argue online, from the safety of their computer screen.
Some theories I have about people who have trouble simply loving ALL people and who prefer to keep themselves away from those “other” people:
- Perhaps there are unfaced issues they have been unwilling to look at within themselves or someone they’re close to.
- Perhaps they, themselves, struggle with something relating to gender or sexuality and have been afraid to admit it to themselves.
- Perhaps they simply need to remind themselves that they’re in no position to judge.
- Perhaps their self-righteousness is a veneer for shame over their own past or present issues.
- Perhaps they don’t really believe they’re loved themselves just as they are.
Nor are these people to be condemned. We’re all here working through our own brokenness, wounds, and stuff. The answer is not judgment, but LOVE. That’s the core of everything Jesus taught: JUDGE LESS. LOVE MORE.
Back to Ellen and Lauren…
Ellen actually picked the song that Lauren sang called “Still Rolling Stones”. Uh-huh, a song about Christ. It’s her favourite one of Lauren’s. Ellen had more grace and kindness towards Lauren than many of the responses have had towards Ellen or Lauren.
One of my personal favourite things about Ellen — she’s a vegan animal lover who cares more for animals and creation than many Christians do. I sometimes hear about her acts of kindness and can’t help seeing what a kind person she is and how comfortable she makes people feel (like Louis Theroux does). Yet certain people have the audacity to focus on her sexuality rather than her heart?
My guess is that if Jesus had a talk show, he’d have Ellen on as an example of the kind of people he likes hanging out with.
I can anticipate the responses this post could possibly get, one of which could be that Ellen only does good things and has certain people on to increase viewers and for PR. I won’t even comment on that. Or any other negative, just-want-to-argue feedback.
Instead of rejoicing over Lauren being on Ellen, the negative Nellies had to go and start Bible thumping. Ah, well. Lauren will go right on doing what she does so brilliantly – bringing glory to God with her music in both secular and Christian settings, and Ellen will go on doing what she does – touching people’s lives with humour and kindness.
The question isn’t about whether it’s right or wrong to be gay. The question is whether you are going to love others or judge them — because you can’t do both simultaneously.
It’s one of the reasons I wrote this short film script.
The logline is: “A compassionate pastor challenges the religious snobs trying to condemn a transgender woman named Sammie. A present day retelling of the good Samaritan parable.”
Every day, we all get to decide whether we’ll choose love or choose judgment when we interact with others.
I know what I’m committed to choosing and I need God’s grace to do so.
To my Christian friends who started sweating as they read this, I love you. To my gay/bi/trans friends, I love you. You’re all precious and I love you all. Period.