Among of the most challenging types of scenarios that I encounter are those with people who seem to sincerely mean well, but just don’t realize the impact of their words. I was a panelist, this morning, at a conference for health care providers. The purpose of the conference was to sensitize and educate them around issues of diversity. I was asked to speak, along with other LGBT’s, to this audience that consisted mostly of nurses. Imani’s Church Administrator, Jim Manchester, was a panelist as well.
After the panel, a gentleman approached us - with the best of intentions, I’m sure - to express appreciation for our presence and participation. I was distracted by others coming up to speak to me; then I turned my attention back to this gentleman just in time to hear him (speaking to Jim) say something like: “God did not put me here to judge anyone. Besides, there is no hierarchy of sins in the Bible. If something is a sin, it’s a sin. One sin isn’t worse than the others.”
It was one of those don’t-speak-‘til-you-take-two-deep-breaths moments. I used that time to remind myself that the gentleman’s intent was to convey something akin to support for us as LGBT’s. The assumption underlying his comment - that homosexuality is a sin - is probably such a “given,” in his belief system, that he also believed that it would be gratifying to us to know that he did not rank our “sin” any worse than adultery. Yes, indeed, he actually said that! I may have to paraphrase (memory issues), but the rest of the conversation was essentially very close to this:
I had a conversation with a dear sister-friend and colleague, a short time ago, which turned out to be a ministry session for my benefit. Rev. Terri Steed exhorted me to be true to myself and to the ways that God uses me in ministry. It may seem self-evident that I should do that, but self-evident is not always the same thing as easy.
There are certain kinds of jobs, professions, and vocations in which one is naturally exposed to scrutiny and criticism on a larger scale than just an immediate supervisor or close co-workers. In any such situation, the only certain thing is that you can’t please all of the people any of the time. At least, it seems that way. Different people will always have different opinions, approaches, and preferences which means that if your performance is being observed by more than a handful of people, you can bet on somebody taking exception with virtually everything you do.