In the recent news coverage of gay couples marrying in California, you might have overlooked an event that began in May called “American Family Outing.” MySanAntonio.com reports that gay couples supported by Soulforce, an Austin, Texas civil rights organization, contacted six mega churches requesting that a church staff member have dinner with a gay couple to dialogue about the church and gay issues. The article contained the following quote:
Jeff Lutes, executive director of Soulforce, the Austin-based civil rights and social organization spearheading the outing, said the group was essentially asking churches: Can you show hospitality to strangers with whom you disagree?
“Having a meal and talking with us does not mean that you support our beliefs,” he said. “It’s simply people coming together and bridging a divide. We’re just hoping that somehow, someway we can get a little bit past the divisiveness around this issue.”
Lakewood Church, Joel Osteen’s church, was one of the churches contacted. Soulforce was told by Lakewood that their staff did not have time to have a meal with the couple, but that anyone was welcome to visit their services. Saddleback is in discussion with the group, Willow Creek met with them, and others are considering it. The Family Research Council has taken the approach of organizing “Church Crisis Response Teams” to counter the group’s approach. Jay Bakker, son of Jim and Tammye Faye Bakker, is acting as liaison between the mega churches and the gay group. Lots of folks getting in the act.
What would you do? Would you share a meal with a gay couple to “dialogue?” Or do you think there’s nothing to dialogue about, and would decline? What media risk is there to either position? Is this just a political stunt, or a sincere attempt to open the lines of communication? I have a hunch these issues are going to be with us a long time. How would you respond?