“The problem isn’t that you’re gay, it’s that you’re a jerk.”
I love Gall’s version of tough love and renegade honesty. According to him, the biggest problem regarding the continuation of sin in the world is the way we tiptoe around it and let ourselves be defined by our favorite-flavored spiritual maladies. We hide behind our shortcomings, failures, and failures just as readily as we hide behind any other external thing we attach to our crab shells as camouflage from the squids–sometimes we can’t tell the difference between benevolent eyes and the eyes of a predator. All we know is that we want to be invisible.
Sitting in his apartment, he tells his homosexual roommate, “I don’t think your struggle with homosexuality is the real problem.”
He then goes on to talk about the metaphor of sin as a constantly narrowing well that goes ever deeper. And as we fall, we are carrying these boards with us, things we call sin, and we only fall deep enough until the boards jam against the sides of the well, giving us a place to stand. The boards make the scaffolding of the sin we’re willing to admit. We stand on a board and say, “This is my sin. There’s nothing darker in me than this.” And we swear that the board is not a board, but the bottom of the well.
The problem is that, whatever ‘board’ we stand on, when we remove that particular board, we continue to fall deeper into the well. The problem is that we are jerks because we think our gayness is the furthest extent of our problem. Or our addictions. Or our lust. Greed. Ego. Piety. It’s easy enough to point to the boards of other ‘sinners’ to define and subsequently mount campaigns against those boards. Boycotts. Marches and rallies. Entire ‘ministries’ have been build on this. It’s one of the great sins of Evangelicalism.
However much our sin may attempt to define us, it never accurately does so. Remove any board, and we all continue to fall to the bottom. And perhaps the bottom is the fact that our heart is only big enough for one god. One idol. We cannot worship God and money. Or God and sex. Or God and fame. Or God and anything. My board may be a different size and shape than yours, but it’s still only a ‘prop’ towards my real sin: the failure to recognize that the only absolutely satisfying and trustworthy One in all creation is Jesus That only Jesus satisfies my deepest thirst—all else is saltwater. Any sin in my life is a reflection of my unbelief.
The problem is not that you’re gay. Or addicted. Or self-righteous. Or whatever. Those things I can ‘fix’ on my own.
The problem is that only grace can keep me from being a jerk.