Donny's Ramblings

You’re Invited to One Heckuva Party!


If you’ve listened to my story, I sometimes tell about the song that came on the radio right after I asked God to save my life. It was “When God Ran,” the Benny Hester version. It movingly takes the story of the prodigal son and personalizes it. Hearing that song just moments after surrendering my life to God was like a “welcome home” party for me.

For a few months now, I’ve been ostracized from one small branch on my family tree. It started as silly as this: a young member of our family posted a status update out of frustration at not being allowed to hang out with a friend who professes to be gay. Another family member, an adult, publicly chastised that family member in the comments area of the original post. Scriptures were used to back up this chastisement (albeit completely out of context). I was very annoyed by the way it all went down, because I cannot think of ANY POSSIBLE REASON for an adult to comment publicly on a child’s Facebook page, criticizing her for all her friends – and the world – to read. So… what did I do? Publicly and privately put in my own two cents. Perfect response, no? Of course not. But that’s what I did. When the mother of the adult I addressed was told about it, she and others in the family decided to stick up for the adult, rather than the child. I still fail to see the logic in that decision, but it is what it is.

The adult’s mother asked, “If someone were to tell your son he was wrong, how would YOU feel?”

Here’s how I feel about that question: If my son is wrong about something, it’s okay to tell him he is wrong. Coddling him provides no value. An incredibly important part of growing up comes from being corrected. Publicly admonishing him, however, would be different since he is a child. When he is an adult, I feel the rules will change – if he publicly humiliated another person, a public response would not be out of the question, and I would not hold onto offense.

Of course, I am open to the idea that I’m wrong about that.

But what I’d really like to say to this part of my family, which in subsequent conversations have let me know their opinions on how much God hates homosexuals, is that I’d love the opportunity to sit down and study the story of the prodigal son with them, as well as the story of his brother. It’s a beautiful story that was originally told by Jesus Himself:

The prodigal son left his father’s house to go out into the world and blow his inheritance. He was rebellious. He lived his life in a way that was a disgrace to the family name. He rolled in the mud with pigs, covered in crap. You couldn’t get much worse than this guy even if you tried. He hit rock bottom.

At that point he decided to try to head back to dad’s house, hoping for the life of a servant. He didn’t feel like he even deserved to be called a son anymore.

But what happened? His father welcomed him home, running to meet him. He had always been his father’s son. Nothing he did could ever change that. Dad threw one heckuva a party!

In the meantime, the prodigal’s brother was living in daddy’s house, feeling as if his good works entitled him to be called “son”. He couldn’t understand why there weren’t parties to celebrate his “goodness”. He found it very unfair that his poop covered brother, the one who had been such a disgrace and done so many bad things, was being made such a fuss about.

I once read a book that said something like, “One brother thought his sins prevented him from being called ‘son’ and separated him from his father’s love, while the other thought his good deeds entitled him to be called ‘son’ and justified his father’s love. Both were wrong. The father’s love just… IS.”

And you know, family and friends, that is very true. The father’s love is just… there. For everyone. It doesn’t have to be earned. Doing the “right” things doesn’t get it for you. Doing the “wrong” things doesn’t disqualify you from it.

I am a prodigal. And, while they may not realize it, I am quite aware of the things that were said about me when I was out living with the pigs by those same family members who ripped a teen for being unable to understand why she couldn’t associate with a gay friend… a friend who, just a few short years ago, lived as if she were part of the family. Circumstances and life choices have now excluded her, and how dare anyone go against that exclusion decision! Guess what? EXCLUSION NEVER WORKS. Did you get that? Read it again. Exclusion. does. not. work. It just causes bitterness to build. I realize this pattern of exclusion has been going on for quite some time, and I’ve personally experienced it too, but that cycle CAN be broken. It NEEDS to be broken. It is, in fact, keeping you from enjoying one raging party!

Instead of excluding, perhaps a better idea is to invite those who need the father’s love to a party in their honor. Forget making up all the reasons why that’s not a good idea. It doesn’t HAVE to make sense to you. The Father’s grace and love doesn’t make sense, and it isn’t “fair” because it is given to those who don’t deserve it. It is given freely. There are no qualifications to receive it. There is no sin big enough to separate the sinner from it. It is a gift. Sometimes you and I are privileged enough to be able to carry that gift and lay it at the feet of someone who needs to receive it. We can’t do that by exclusion. It is impossible to do so.

We don’t get to decide who gets this gift of grace. Lay the gift at the feet of even (gasp) the homosexual. Let the recipient decide whether to pick it up or not. And if the package can’t be delivered right away, let’s develop a better reputation than even FedEx by bringing it back for another attempted delivery, again and again and again.

Whaddaya say?

3 thoughts on “You’re Invited to One Heckuva Party!

  1. Good stuff, Donny.
    In 2005, I went to an HIV/AIDS conference at a church in CA. We heard from folks from HIV-riddles nations, like Africa and the like, but we also heard from many folks in the United States living with the disease. Some were innocent bystanders — a nursing mother infected during a post-partum blood transfusion who passed it on to her nursing newborn. And some had been part of the homosexual community before coming to Christ, already infected with the disease. I am so grateful to those precious folks who were so willing to share – unabashedly – their struggles and victories in their walks with Christ. The Church has had it so wrong, for the most part, in handling the homosexual community … complete rejection at the worst and silence at the least. I think your description hit the nail on the head and I just love it. The whole “hate the sin, love the sinner” mentality is not something we are equipped to handle — in our anger we sin. We are called to love God and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. It is His kindness that leads to repentance. I was allowed to sit on the pew, steeped in my sin and discover who Christ was. He drew me … He gently and faithfully rooted out the portions of my life that needed to go — and changed my heart accordingly. Would I have been afforded that same opportunity if I had been an openly gay person truly seeking the Lord? Or a transvestite? Or a prostitute? It’s a tough topic, but one, I believe, that needs to be talked about. If your pastor decides to welcome homosexuals into the congregation and folks get offended and splinter off in anger, let them. Jesus hung out with the hurting and afflicted of that time and was criticized for it — we are all the same in God’s eyes. Our sins — though they may carry different degrees of consequences — are equal in the Lord’s economy and are all, if not under the blood of Christ, punishable by death. We would do well to remember that.

  2. Brother, you never cease to impress!

    This post really makes us as Christians think and hopefully analyse hearts to see if we are for real.

    Anyone who brews in hatred or offence is a bad representation of who Jesus is. Period.

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