FIRST PERSON: I am gay-friendly

by Christi Avant, posted Tuesday, July 12, 2005 (15 years ago)

NEW YORK (BP)--I literally was birthed into Southern Baptist evangelicalism.

Both of my parents are in the ministry. Recently, my father became the vice president of evangelism at the North American Mission Board. Before that, he was a Southern Baptist pastor for longer than I have seen the light of the sun.

I write this on lunch break in my corner of an office of The 411, a New York City church (on 42nd street, sponsored heavily by Southern Baptist churches from the deep south) who are embracing a radical, risky and eternally rewarding way of life described in the same book that calls the homosexual lifestyle sin.

Romans 12:21 reads, "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."

Overcome evil with condemnation? Overcome evil by shaking our heads, refusing to go see the Disney movie "Tarzan"?

No. Overcome evil with GOOD.

Today the staff of The 411 hauled hundreds of water bottles to a dancer's call audition for the revival of the Broadway musical "A Chorus Line" (infamous for being the first successful musical to openly deal with and affirm homosexuality in the arts). We walked into a room full of hopeful dancers and nervous producers and said "Hey, this water is free for you guys. We're from a new church called The 411 and we just want to say that God loves you."

The man running the audition looked at me with a blank stare and then said, "Wow, that's ... well ... that's just ... wow ... that's ... amazing!" Then he announced to the entire room, "Hey these church people just brought you guys all free water!" I then heard him turn aside and mutter to himself, "Wow that is just amazing."

Yes, it's amazing. The goodness of God who sent His only Child to be brutally murdered on behalf of a human race who rebelled against Him is amazingly GOOD!

In no way should a person who claims to follow Jesus Christ advocate a lifestyle that so clearly is spoken against in the Word of God. However, we trust that by meeting the basic needs of lost people, doors will open to share with them the hope of a new life in Christ.

I have caught a dangerous trend arising in my generation, which "loves Christ but not the church."

Not all of this is our fault. We are crying out for our elders to step back and allow us to step up. We are crying out for them to fund relevant college ministries even though most of us cannot drop as much as they can in the offering plate.

However, we are crying out immaturely, like a 2-year-old throwing a tantrum in a grocery store.

Abandoning or "taking a break from" church is neither the right thing to do, nor is it any kind of solution to the problem.

The SBC needs a new generation of leaders from us 20-somethings to do what Christ commanded before he ascended into heaven. He said, "GO therefore ..." not "Runaway therefore ..." not "Condemn therefore...."

"Go therefore and make disciples...." [Matthew 28:19]

With everything in me, I believe that is the heart of what Southern Baptist evangelism was meant to be.

Whether your hair is gray or streaked with purple, if you claim to follow Jesus Christ you are called to go directly into a bleeding, slimy, hurting, desperate, dying world, and defeat the inherent evil of people's souls with the good of the Father.

I love Jesus.

I believe every word of the Bible and I believe we should live it by sharing it with the lost.

I am gay-friendly.


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