By Fr. Justin Clemente. January 16th, 2023.
Not too long ago, Mack and I walked the streets of a neighborhood adjacent to City Park. We met all kinds of characters. We even ended up raking leaves, but that’s another story.
One gentleman we met left a particular impression on me. As I started to introduce myself, he quickly put his hand up and said something like this: “I belong to the LGBTQ community, and unless you affirm that, don’t even bother.” Understand – Mack and I were planted on his front porch. I wanted to continue the conversation, but I knew it probably wouldn’t last long. I had to choose my words carefully.
I took a deep breath and said, “Okay, but would you allow me to at least make a brief reply?” He nodded his head, and so I told him that I believe the gospel to be the most inclusive option for the church. My point was that, regardless of the particular sins at work in a person’s life, we all share the same need: “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, we can all join hands at the foot of the Cross. Hallelujah!
Only, it didn’t land. He wanted to hear none of it, and was adamant that I affirm, as he saw it, his sexual identity. I ended the conversation by saying that both of us were coming at the question of sexuality from radically different and irreconcilable worldviews, and that we probably wouldn’t be able to work that out on his doorstep (!). So, for the moment, the door is shut. As Mack and ended that day’s work, we prayed for this gentleman, that the transforming love of Jesus Christ would be known and received by him.
These kinds of conversations are encouraging and challenging, all at the same time. They’re encouraging because, well, because you never known what God will do with them. They’re challenging because they invite us to do better next time. To be a better prepared evangelist for the gospel’s sake. How would you have responded to our neighbor’s LGBTQ or nothing stance? How would you have pointed him to his greater needed to deal with the claims of Christ – his death for sinners, and glorious resurrection on our behalf? Keep your sword sharp. This week, God may call on you to bear witness to the hope that is within you.