A new reader to the blog contacted me privately with the following. It is edited slightly to maintain confidentiality and for readability:
“I have a quick question to ask and would appreciate your advice. My company was invited to attend a(n) :::edit::: event to honor LGBT older adults during pride month. Everyone is going but I’m not sure if I should attend. My friends are saying if I attend, it means I’m endorsing their lifestyle, politics, propaganda, etc. Perhaps but I don’t think so and don’t mind attending. I just want to listen and I’m also curious since I used to keep my distance from these things.
So what do you think? My friends are saying talking to a LGBT person is very different from attending an organized event (true). They say I should only go if I’m going to hand out tracts or share the gospel which I don’t think is appropriate. It gets complicated when all my co-workers who aren’t Christians are attending but my friends say that’s fine.”
Thank you so much for your message and question.
Regardless of the purpose of an event, attending specifically themed events will always be a matter of personal conscience. I will assume that your company isn’t making this mandatory so the exercise of personal conscience won’t have as dramatic (but probably still impactful) effect. That said, the relational aspect with your co-workers could be greatly blessed when they see you’re interest, humility, and willingness to listen.
As for your religious friends, it appears they are trying to enforce a culturally ingrained perspective that is a conditioned response (reaction) of prioritizing policy over people; worrying too much about the “propaganda” at the expense of caring for the person. I don’t know them so I could be completely wrong, but their advice to you seems harsh, reductive, and unnecessary. It’s like they are looking for a fight where there doesn’t have to be one.
They seem to be placing religious rules (of engagement) over honest relationship at community events. There is nothing wrong with a Christian attending an event that is important to their community; especially if they are wanting to learn more about what the concerns and history of people around them are.
Plus, those LGBT people may completely deserve your respect and honor for whatever they did. I am not sure what they are being honored for in this particular circumstance, but many gay people have contributed positively to our community(ies). For example, if they were at the forefront of AIDS research and activism in the ’80′s … many were engaging in sacrificial, life-giving, and life-preserving actions that legitimately deserve remembering and respect.
They were helping in amazing ways that many in the church (at that time) were refusing to do for people dealing with the violent onslaught of the HIV virus. That person, regardless of who they are, would have nothing but a deep respect from me for their efforts.
And perhaps some people will be honored for accomplishments you don’t appreciate. That’s ok too. You can learn why it is important to others to recognize them and their efforts. Hopefully your listening ear will catch some bits of information that will engender some level of understanding and possibly empathy.
I think you should totally go. I am actually a little jealous and would like to go myself :). I think your perspective of being curious, wanting to learn, and being respectful of the event is healthy. If you are concerned about what some of your other friends think, remember this, Jesus will be there with or without you. He loves, and knows, every single person being honored at that event. He loves your co-workers. He loves you.
Pray. Go. Listen. Learn. Ask Him for wisdom. Be blessed.
… and then tell me all about it. 🙂 I’d be interested to know.…