A friend of mine, Colby Martin, has written a book that’s about to be released. I’m proud of him, not just because of the enormous work such a project means, and not even because it’s a brave and beautiful book.
I’m proud of him most because of the life he has engaged and shaped in himself – it’s a brave and beautiful journey he has walked to be able to write this book.
Unclobber is part memoir and part exploration of the Bible’s “clobber” passages – those verses that convince believers that God condemns same sex desires and acts. When Colby came to understand those passages differently, he lost friends and the position as pastor he was called to in a conservative evangelical church.
It’s not the book about affirming my LGBTQ+ sisters and brothers that I would write, and I’m glad. While there is strong resonance between our journeys, Colby’s story is uniquely his and uniquely valuable for that.
For me, his story is most powerful in a place where it both deeply connects with and departs from my own.
Colby changed his mind and heart because of his deep commitment to be faithful to Scripture and following Jesus. He had no questions about his own sexuality, no friends or family members who were gay.
Like me, Colby didn’t come to see things differently because he had a stake in the game. I would say that we both began to look deeper because we saw that Jesus has a stake in the game.
It’s not an easy path. While there is, as Colby expresses so well, a deep peace that comes with living in alignment – mind, heart, spirit, and outward behavior all in harmony; that peace can come with deep loss.
I am fortunate that, unlike Colby, my own journey did not jeopardize my calling or the ability to support a family. But there are deep losses nonetheless. When what it looks like to be faithful changes for you, to those for whom it hasn’t changed, you appear to be unfaithful.
Following Jesus can take us down different paths, paths that can seem confusing (and worse) to those who love us. But once seen, the vision cannot be unseen. Once known, new understanding cannot be unknown.
I’m reminded of the parable Jesus told of the Pearl of Great Price. A merchant sells everything in order to gain one thing that matters most to him (a thing that would look absurdly impractical to the parable’s audience – he can’t eat it or shelter under it, and it would be difficult to sell, if he even intends that).
It’s a parable that challenges us to know what it is that we value most. That will not look the same for all of us, even those of us who follow Jesus, and that’s hard sometimes.
I’m grateful for Colby and his journey. I’m grateful for friends who have counted and paid the cost, and continue to follow as faithfully as they know how.
And as we share our stories, I’m hopeful. I’m hopeful that we can continue to challenge our fears and blindspots, that we can embrace a faith that is ever more just and generous.
That together we can create a world that overflows with the shalom, beauty, and love of God to all.