I have been horrified by some comments I've seen on Facebook in response to a new law in California. I thought I'd revisit my favorite story on the subject. It also happens to be a wonderful reflection of Rich Mullins, a man I admire very much.
This is the story:
In November 1995, the late Rich Mullins was in concert in Knoxville and told a story that stopped this writer in his tracks. Rich’s story was later recounted in the June 1997 edition of CCM magazine that was devoted to AIDS, Christian artists and the church.
Rich said he befriended a man at a steakhouse while hiking along the Appalachian Trail. As darkness fell, the man (whom the magazine refers to as "John) offered Rich a ride back to his campsite. As the truck pulls out of town, John speaks up.
John: I probably oughta tell you that I’m gay.
Rich: I probably oughta tell you that I’m a Christian.
John: Well do you want to get out of the truck?
Rich: No. It’s still getting dark, and (my camp) is still four miles up the road.
John: But I thought Christians hated gays.
Rich: That’s really weird. My understanding of what Christ told us was that Christians were to love. I didn’t know there were a lot of parameters set on that.
John: I thought God hated gays.
Rich: That’s funny, because I thought God is love, and He has no choice but to love because that is what He is.
John: Do you believe AIDS is God’s punishment on gays?
Rich: Well possibly, in the same sense that presidents are God’s punishment on voters. I mean there are consequences. We make choices, and there are natural consequences for those choices.
John: Will I go to hell for being gay?
Rich: (I was ready to go, "Well, yes, of course, you’ll go to hell for being gay." But that was one of those moments when the Good News really impressed me. What I heard myself say was ...) No, of course you won’t go to hell for being gay any more than I would go to hell for being dishonest. The only reason anybody ever went to hell was because they rejected the grace that God so longed to give them.
John: I grew up in the church, and I’ve never heard anybody say that God loved me.
Rich: I think that of all the diseases in the world, the disease that all humankind suffers from, the disease that is most devastating to us is not AIDS, it’s not gluttony, it’s not cancer, it’s not any of those things. It is the disease that comes about because we live in the ignorance of the wealth of love that God has for us. What a great message we in the church have. It’s relevant to people with AIDS and people without AIDS. It’s relevant to homosexuals and homophobes. It’s relevant to Republicans and Democrats, to abortionists and anti-abortionists. It’s relevant across the board.
And that's about all there is to that. Thanks for reading. I'll try to do better next time.