Let me start by saying I'm a Christian. I don't view Christianity as a label but an existence. It's my badge of honor, it's my source of strength, it's a reminder I'm alive for a reason. Adversely, Christianity is not a weapon I use to kill the dreams and destiny of others. It's not a gavel I use from a seat of judgment to condemn people. It's how I muster up enough light to make my way through a world filled with darkness. I believe my experience is shared by most in the Christian faith.
As a Christian, I understand people won't always agree with my stances, and that's their right, but my expectation is despite differing points of view, both sides of an issue are given the space for verbal expression. The Kim Burrell backlash is proof my expectation is mere fantasy. Unfortunately, we live in a world where disagreement equates to hate. You must agree with societal norms or you'll be ostracized with little hope of recovery. Kim Burrell's fall from grace further proves this. But what we fail to understand is silencing someone's viewpoints because they don't agree with your choice, lifestyle or stance is also a form of prejudice.
The Kim Burrell narrative goes well beyond getting booted from Ellen and banned from the BMI Trailblazers of Gospel Music celebration. It plays on society's inability to agree to disagree. This story could've played out much differently had Ellen respected Kim Burrell's right to have a differing perspective. It would have been powerful to see an open and objective conversation between the two. Who knows what both parties as well as audiences could've gained from such an exchange. Instead, in oxymoronic fashion, Ellen chose to be the very person she believed she was rebuking: someone unwilling to embrace "the other side."
The ripple effects continue as conjured up narratives about homophobia in the Christian faith run rampant. Homophobia is defined as irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuality. Yet, many people have redefined this term and likened homophobia to any opinion opposing the LGBTQ lifestyle. That is not what homophobia is, and disagreement does not equate to discrimination. I don't stand in agreement with homosexuality, but that certainly doesn't define me as homophobic. I don't treat anyone in the LGBTQ community in a discriminatory fashion, and despite not agreeing with how they choose to live their lives, I respect their right to live as they please, because love is respect. But as humans have moved through time, love has taken on other forms, many of which I can't stand by.
In my opinion, love has become the label we throw around to excuse our habits, behaviors, strategies and standards. Our society has redefined love as a form of unconditional and unrelenting agreement, but that's not its function. Its function is to sustain despite adverse stances, to endure despite difficulty, to correct and to always shine a light. That light either exposes a fault or accentuates a righteous action. In either respect, there's an opportunity to either make an adjustment or continue to move forward in proper action.
In closing, I would like to go on record and say to anyone in the LGBTQ community who has felt damaged, deserted, hurt or humiliated by the Christian church, I apologize. I'm sorry you were subjected to circumstances or words that pierced you so deep you can't see the cuts but feel them daily. That's not love and that's certainly not how the word of God teaches us to treat one another. But I will also say, I hope you don't think I hate you because I don't stand in agreement with your choice. I love you, and I love you enough to respect that you can live life as you choose, and I would simply ask that you offer me the same love and respect. Please give those of us in the Christian faith a fair shot. My hope and prayer is that we can have open and honest dialogue; not strife, not judgment, not ill interactions but effective conversations. Real love makes allowance for this. Real love binds despite debate. Real love never diminishes.