Jesus Died for Bryan Fischer: How I Learned to Let Go of Anger

This past weekend, I attended the Gay Christian Network Conference. In its 10th Annual Conference, held in Chicago this year, roughly 700 folks attended the 4-day event. I have a suspicion I’ll be processing my experience at the GCN Conference for quite some time to come.

Rachel and I

On Saturday morning of the Conference, Rachel Held Evans spoke in the morning session. Her talk, titled “What’s So Annoying About Grace?” was certainly something I needed to hear. Rachel challenged us all with remembering that God’s table is open to all who trust in Him. This was a message that so many of my fellow attenders needed to hear, but it carried a flip-side. The annoying part about grace is that it covers all of us who don’t deserve it. Not just those of us sitting in the conference room, but also those who may have hurt us deeply. Rachel mentioned a few names that have been more controversial in recent times: Phil Robertson and Mark Driscoll. These are certainly folks that have made me cringe a few times. They’re on my list of “People Who Give Christians a Bad Name.”

But grace covers them, too. It covers their ignorance and careless words the same as it covers my pride and gossip and self-promotion.

We Christians like to put things in the way of God’s grace, according to Rachel. We don’t want it to be as inclusive as it is. We try to build up things to put in the path of God’s grace. We seek to exclude because we think some people don’t deserve God’s grace.

The annoying (and amazing) part of God’s grace, Rachel shared, was the way it is lavished upon people that don’t deserve it. Like me. Like you. Like Phil Robertson.

I used to work in foster care. I drove all over West Michigan to visit my foster kids and attend court hearings. And after I left that job, I took a job that had a 45 minute commute on the way home every day. During this time, I started listening to Christian Talk Radio.During this point in Rachel’s talk, my mind drifted to a horrible habit I carried off and on for a couple of years.

At first it was just out of curiosity. What are they saying? What are they telling thousands and thousands of Christians every afternoon? What concerns them? What do they see as the issues? Some things didn’t surprise me. They cared about ending abortion. They cared about people coming to know Christ. They even had fun trivia games that I would play along with every now and then. But, there were things that got under my skin. Things like talking derogatorily about undocumented persons, the poor, and the LGBT community. The messages about gay people weren’t just focused on “defending traditional marriage.” I heard their hosts bemoaning anything that protected the rights or safety of their gay neighbors.

While many different hosts of American Family Radio’s programs were deeply offensive, the hardest to listen to was Bryan Fischer. He hosts “Focal Point” every weekday afternoon. You can Google him if you really want to know the garbage he has said. It’s not the intention of this post to drag out countless examples of how he’s perpetuated a hatred of LGBT folks for years.

I was disgusted with the things I heard him saying. They wounded me deeply. They made me feel that as a person who happened to have a gay sexual orientation, that I was ‘less than’ or ‘unworthy.’ But, in my disgust, I kept listening. I listened to keep myself angry at the vile things that certain Christians were saying. I knew he was wrong. I knew he was misrepresenting Jesus. But I kept listening. I was so upset with what he was doing that I listened to keep reminding myself of how horrible he could be. And guess what?

It hurt me. It hurt my relationship with God. My building up these reserves of disdain for this man didn’t hurt him one bit. I was the one affected by it. Duh.

I ultimately stopped listening because I realized it was destroying my soul. It was hardening me and taking away my tender-heart. Staying away from American Family Radio helped my mood. It helped my disposition. It helped my relationship with God. It felt like I had dealt with it. All better, right?

That’s where Rachel’s Saturday morning talk intersects with this story. I was still trying to withhold God’s grace from Bryan Fischer and the other conservative talk show hosts from American Family Radio. I still wanted to them OUT of the Kingdom of Heaven. I didn’t want them representing me or my friends as examples of Christians.

But I was challenged to give up the anger I was holding towards Mr. Fischer. I can’t be angry at God for being generous towards someone else because I don’t think they deserve it. Because guess what? I DON’T DESERVE IT EITHER.

And that’s what’s so annoying (and amazing) about grace.

Thank you, Rachel, for reminding me of this.

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4 thoughts on “Jesus Died for Bryan Fischer: How I Learned to Let Go of Anger

  1. Glad to have read this, Andrew. I have really been frustrated by the side choosing and harsh responses, from all angles on the topic lately. The truth is, none of us have it right. There are topics on which each if us hold and incorrect understanding and (often loud) opinion. We have to maintain a teachable spirit both fir ourselves, and others, and wait for God to change hearts- yours, mine, and theirs. While we wait, we need to extend grace, knowing, like you have highlighted here, that it isn’t just for people with whom I agree.

  2. How did you get to be so wise in your 25 yrs.? I am always amazed by your insights and also for yur ability to admit when you are wrong. It truly is AMAZING God’s grace to all of us…we all get do overs every day…and as a mother I hope I am getting it right but I know I fall short every day. So thankful for that Grace and the knowledge that I am still able to grow up and mature in Christ, still! (even at the age of 51!!!)

  3. Andrew….I, too, have listened to Bryan on AFR….still do, actually as I listen to AFR a good deal during the day. I find that most of the people on AFR seem to have a different spirit regarding homosexuality than Bryan does. Sometimes he drives me nuts, especially regarding the subject of homosexuality. His manner does not reflect grace or mercy.

    But, as much as he irritates me a lot of the time, in his defense, I really don’t think that in his heart he harbors any dislike or especially hate for gays…..it’s the “gay agenda” that he’s so much against….and I’d have to agree with him in that regard…..it is pretty relentless, but I can see why when faced with and trying to defend against people like Bryan.

    I am so impressed with you and your choice for celibacy. I know it can’t be an easy road to walk. I have a brother who serves as a missionary in Cambodia who also chose to live his life celibate. I also have another brother who is more like Justin, tho not as scripturally or spiritually wise as Justin is. He has a tender soul and has been greatly hurt. For this reason I have gotten really interested in trying to gain understanding of where you guys are coming from. You , Justin, Ron and others have shed so much light on the subject for me. I’m still trying to digest it all and taking my time reading and studying each treatise so as to see where each is coming from. Thank you for your insight, openness, vulnerability and honesty. I’ve become a follower of your writings! Keep up the wonderful work of living and witnessing as a Christian in a very difficult and dark world.

  4. Dear Andrew,
    I am a stranger to you, finding you by “chance” (if that were even possible) while searching for the Marin foundation. I have 2 lesbian girls. One who is trans, (not technically a lesbian, I have been corrected) and the other who is married to a lovely girl, that I love dearly even though I dont agree with their lifestyle.
    Anyway, suffice it to say that as a ‘dyed in the wool southern baptist’, this journey has been painful and difficult for all of us. But I am blessed beyond words because they chose this path. Because it has caused me to search for God in every thing I believed, why I believed it, and to choose to love above all.
    And although I do not agree with what they are doing, I do agree that they are loved by God, simply because they were created by Him, and therefore, as a bondservant of Christ, I can do nothing less.
    I held them both at arms length for a while, because my pain was so great. But God is doing great things in me, and I wouldnt change my experience for anything. I am so in love with Christ, that I wake up with joy every morning and cant wait to spend the day with him. I didnt think that was possible.
    Anyway, I just want you to know I appreciate your wisdom and choice. I cannot imagine the cost. But you have obviously counted it and found Christ worth it. And I am so thankful for you sharing your experience here so we could know you through it.
    I am also learning not to judge those who do not choose what I think they should, but instead love them. After all, which sin is worse? I think my condemnation would rank right up there because I am taking the place of God, both in them and in me. Ouch. But for the record, I dont believe God ranks sin. All sin is putting our wants above Him. And that is, in its purest form, idolatry.
    Anyway, thank you for sharing. Your words have blessed me and given me much to consider. If you would like to dialogue further, you can contact me at leslie@hisgardenofgrace.com (my website for this journey God has taken me on) It will be up and running soon and i would love to have you do a guest post sometime if you would be willing. Thanks for “listening”. You are a blessing to me.

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