The Confession Booth

Andrew Marin, of the Marin Foundation, has created a new DVD small group study resource called ‘Love is an Orientation‘, based on the book he wrote of the same name. It’s a great new resource exploring the topic of how can the church and Christians build bridges to the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community – as opposed to what has gone on. I’m still working my way through the DVD, so that review will come eventually.

I have a lot of respect for Andrew’s work. His writing and speaking has forced me to think through a lot of my views, opinions, and guided me to something healthier and more Christ-like I think. I do have to confess, though, one of the things his organization has done for several years now that has pushed my comfort level has been the ‘I’m Sorry’ campaign. Basically, every year they show up at the gay pride parade in Chicago with t-shirts and signs apologizing for how the church has treated the LGBT community. On the one hand it is a beautiful act. On the other hand, there’s a part of me that has struggled with whether or not it was appropriate, and if it even goes too far in the direction of appearing to agree with all that is being communicated during the parade. As though apologizing communicates some sort of agreement. I’m not entirely sure where my discomfort came from, only that I knew it was vaguely present somehow.

I’m working my way through the DVD which has all of the above fresh on my mind. At the same time, I’m rereading my way through Donald Miller’s ‘Blue Like Jazz’ book in preparation for the upcoming April 13th release of the movie based on it. One of my favorite parts of the book has always been the confession booth; I loved it when I first read the book, it’s an amazing scene in the movie, and it communicates a beautiful attitude that should be present in the church. Basically, he and his friends set up a confession booth in the middle of a weekend of crazy drunken, drug induced, sexual frenzy of a party weekend at a college that hated Christians, and when party goers entered the booth expecting to be asked to confess their sins, Miller and his friends instead apologized for all the ways that Christians in general, and they specifically, have misrepresented Christ. Amazing. The quote that really jumped out at me last night was this:

For so much of my life I had been defending Christianity because I thought to admit that we had done any wrong was to discredit the religious system as a whole, but it isn’t a religious system, it is people following Christ; and the important thing to do, the right thing to do, was to apologize for getting in the way of Jesus.

What was great about it was that I when I read it, I totally agreed with in the context of what Miller and his friends did. It was beautiful. Loving. And the right thing to do – our responsibility isn’t to ‘fix’ the ones we disagree with, it’s simply to acknowledge where we’ve been wrong and to communicate the love of a God who cares more about restoring a relationship between Himself and His lost children then any of the other issues we get worked up about. And for me that was the moment that the ‘I’m sorry’ campaign finally became something I’m no longer vaguely uncomfortable with.

One thought on “The Confession Booth

  1. Matthew….some would be offended at the sitting up a confessional booth in the middle of crazy drunks and all that goes with those two. I find it a bold, courageous step of faith especially when the outcome of the booth was not the usual. The love of God is not the usual, its gutsy, bold, radicial and a host of other world I can't think of now. Divine love when it is working is all those words and it reaches past the actions and lifestyle of those who need Him. I remember the first time the Lord had me apologize for my rudeness to a lost neighbor who was Catholic….but I don't want too much time on the fraility of we Christians….it is He who is not frail…good article Matthew….so good to read how God is using you my brother.

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