I was driving home from the radio station in Seattle in 2012. I actually enjoyed the 35 minute drive up i90 through the tunnels, and across the floating bridge. I made my way up the mountain toward the beautiful Snoqualmie Valley. On this particular day I was scrolling through my iTunes, and noticed that my daughter Libby’s music library had synced to my phone. And a particular song by some guy named Macklemore caught my attention. It was called, “Same Love.”
The Bluetooth connected and this young ginger rapper from Seattle (with the help of a female vocalist) began singing and rapping about a gay couple. Well, actually he started out with a discussion with his mother:
When I was in the third grade, I thought that I was gay
‘Cause I could draw, my uncle was, and I kept my room straight
I told my mom, tears rushing down my face
She’s like, “Ben, you’ve loved girls since before Pre-K”
Apparently Macklemore’s name is Ben which he leaves off his albums, because no one will listen to a rapper named Ben. B-Mac maybe, but a dude named Ben is going to have a tough time as a rapper, but I instantly liked him. And from what I gathered…he had an uncle who was gay, and based on his religious upbringing he was convinced there couldn’t be anything worse! And he continued:
I remember doing the math like, “Yeah, I’m good at little league”
A pre-conceived idea of what it all meant
For those that like the same sex had the characteristics
I’m picking up what he is throwing down…I’m cool! Ben is not gay. Although, Ben Gay may be a cool rapper name? So, I’m driving along with slight curiosity at where this thespian was taking me. And then he went right at me! He had a word for Pastor Tony:
The right-wing conservatives think (being gay) it’s a decision
And you can be cured with some treatment and religion
Man-made, rewiring of a pre-disposition
Playing God, aw nah, here we go
America the brave still fears what we don’t know
And “God loves all his children” is somehow forgotten
But we paraphrase a book written thirty-five hundred years ago
I don’t know
We will come back to those last three words (I don’t know) in a moment, but as he continued with the following I began to cry, and don’t judge me for being a “feeler” I can’t help it:
When I was at church they taught me something else
If you preach hate at the service, those words aren’t anointed
That holy water that you soak in has been poisoned
When everyone else is more comfortable remaining voiceless
Rather than fighting for humans that have had their rights stolen
I might not be the same, but that’s not important
No freedom ’til we’re equal, damn right I support it
I was severely confused by what was happening to me as I drove home. I recall thinking, “Tony, you are an ordained Southern Baptist Minister, and you are crying about a song that supports the gay lifestyle?” And then the incredible vocals of Mary Lambert kicks in and I lost it:
And I can’t change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
And I can’t change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
My love, my love, my love
She keeps me warm
The words, “And I can’t change. Even if I tried. Even if I wanted to” broke my heart into pieces, because when I listened I didn’t just hear one voice singing…I heard the entire gay community. Personally, I heard the gay community asking the Christian community to simply let them love who they want to love. They weren’t asking for acceptance. They weren’t asking for us to condone it. And finally, they weren’t asking for us to love them. Nope, Jesus asked us to do that thousands of years ago.
When I arrived home I looked down on the kitchen table and there was a mail in voting ballot. A ballot asking if we wanted to approve gay marriage in the state of Washington. Coincidence? I read over it and looked at my wife and said, “I’m voting yes.” And from that point on I too came out of the closet…meaning I stopped hiding my support of the gay community, and their desire to be married. I’ve had this discussion with other pastors who were visually upset with me. And one simply looked at me and asked, “You do know the Bible says it’s wrong?”
The key part of that song that resonated with me was, “but we paraphrase a book written 3500 years ago. I DON’T KNOW.” If more pastors and religious leaders could learn to say those last three words the world would be a much better place, and the church would not have ostracized a large portion of America. The words “I don’t know” should be used often by anyone of any religion. We don’t know much, but we hope for a lot of what we say we believe to be true.
There will be many who want to write and criticize me and that is allowed, but I would tell you to save your energy. This is not something I came to overnight, but the big question you may have is, “Tony, do you think the Bible is the inspired word of God?” You would ask that because parts of the Bible do appear to address homosexuality negatively. Many of those scriptures have been horribly taken out of context, and were not clearly translated, but I am not one to debate and I am not a scholar.
I will tell you that I absolutely love the Bible, and that I believe parts of it are divinely inspired. I love Jesus, I love God, and I believe the Holy Spirit guides and directs, but to say the entire Bible is inerrant and straight from God’s mouth…I don’t know. It’s an incredible book that has been used to do too much damage, and that’s especially true when you consider Jesus said it was all about one thing…loving others.
Many will say, “Well, you can’t pick and choose which parts are inspired.” And I would say, I’m done with that type of thinking my friend. My days of drawing a line in the sand, or seeing the world or the word as black or white are over. Our relationship with God should be very deep and personal. Let the Spirit guide you in all things. Especially when determining what is to be seen as truth.
Ironically, in 2019 my daughter called and asked to meet me in a small restaurant in Green Lake, which is a little hipster neighborhood in Seattle. I was not able to blend in due to my hillbilly accent, jeans, lack of boots, and the absence of a very long beard. However, I do like craft beer and Mumford and Sons so I felt like I was one of them! As I walked in I noticed that the owner of the restaurant had gone out of their way to be “gay friendly.” There were several pieces of art, and the rainbow flag that let me know they were on team, “Love is love!” Again, I felt like one of them.
Let’s talk about that meeting in my next post! Please subscribe and share my posts, and if you’d like to support me through my insurance biz then click here!
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