by Chris Bodenner
A reader writes:
I'm a little put off by the oddly petty criticism of a Christian who is at least taking one step towards a rational point of view. My only question to those who make issue of t-shirts being sold, or some vague sense of hubris coming from Marin, is this: would you prefer him to shut up? Would you prefer to be left with Pat Robertson? Positive steps are positive steps.
No one is suggesting that by supporting Marin's gesture of apology, you therefore support everything else he does. There seems to be a great deal of forest-tree confusion going on here. Lastly it should be remembered that Marin is not the sole person in his organization. It is allegedly filled with numerous Christians who are willing and eager to apologize to the LGBT community about the wrongs committed by their church. Being an atheist and having no sway within the church, I can only say I'm thrilled that such a gesture is dared to be made at all.
I wanted to weigh in on your post on Andrew Marin, since I had the chance to meet him in person on a couple occasions. Savage's piece on him is rather cynical, but it seems very far removed from the person I met and read. I met Marin while he was teaching a class during Sunday school at Uptown Baptist Church in Chicago. For someone that is supposedly profiting selfishly on the GLBT community, it seems strange that he would spend hours of his time for several weeks teaching in a moderately sized church for free, never once mentioning anything for sale. The class dealt with material similar to his book that came out a year or two later, Love is an Orientation, which discussed the controversial Bible verses regarding homosexuality attempting to unearth principles beyond deciding "right or wrong", but mostly how to reach out to GLBT loved ones without condemnation. I can say that he definitely challenged the evangelical crowd there to change a lot of assumptions and I believe accomplished quite a bit.
During that time he was also quite candid about the Foundation, how blessed he felt to receive the grants and donations that made it possible, and that it existed because of the research angle. Again, since he was able to do what he's doing by doing research into the religious lives of those in the GLBT community, I really struggle to see the egotism in the name rather than a neutral starting point.
I'll admit that I like his message, so I may be biased. But Savage's main point is that he claimed Marin called homosexuality a sin (by anecdote, I might add) and he doubts he has changed. The basis of Marin's message, however, is that there are better conversations than whether it is sin, and he accepts the spiritual validity of those who say it is not. He clearly gets burned by both sides by refusing to say one way or another. Both sides will accuse him of being a sheep in wolves' clothing. While there seems to be plenty of careers in choosing either polemical side, he's taking a third, much more difficult way. For every person saying that he's not liberal enough, there are Christians out there claiming that he's not a real Christian. So whether one believes him or not, I think that deserves at least a nod of respect.
P.S. These "Can Church be Hip?" conversations have been like taking a tour through my iTunes collection.