Gay Pride, Michael Brown, & The Image of God

We’ve all been at the checkout and have seen been the somebody that “forgot their wallet.”

A few months ago I bought $30 or $40 dollars of gas for a young African American, college-age kid, because he lost his wallet.

We were both in between cities at a rural gas station. He was traveling with his mom and two other adults, all of whom I met and prayed with. They were very kind and beautiful human beings.

I was skeptical when two of the other adults paid cash for food inside. To my shame, even before this, I remember being skeptical, and the whole time feeling terrible that I felt this way.

“Am I being scammed?”

“Am I just another sucker?”

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Assuming the best

A common refrain in our household and a way in which we process conversations, situations, and life in general is by asking this question: “Was I assuming the best of the other person?”

  • Was my wife taking out the trash to shame me because I should’ve done it hours ago, or was she gladly lending a helping hand when I didn’t do my job?
  • Was my 3 year old son scheming with all sorts of wicked intentions to get what he wanted, or was he living moment-by-moment making decisions and made a mistake (like all 3 year olds)?
  • Was this young black kid honestly in need of assistance, or was he lying for dishonest gain?

We have found that assuming the best of people is good for the soul. Yes, we are orthodox Christians who believe in original sin, and yes, we also believe in giving everyone the benefit or the doubt.

What’s Gay Pride have to do with Michael Brown?

One beautiful, life-giving development through the last few decades of the gay rights movement has been that our culture defaults to not looking at over-the-top homosexual people as freaks. Those with level heads within the Church today are crying out for Christians to see the image of God imprinted on the face of each and every person they see (Matthew 25:31ff), no matter how outlandish you perceive them to be. Everyone has a story, everyone has deep pain and insecurity, and every person on the planet is wicked without the cross of Jesus.

I do not care to open up the bag of worms of whether or not normalization of homosexuality is a good thing or a bad thing. But not looking at other human beings as freaks should always be celebrated by anyone who confesses Christ.

And this is where Ferguson and Michael Brown intersect with Gay Pride. I am not equating the civil rights movement with the gay rights movement. That’s another discussion entirely. (See hereheread nauseam)

The image of God in a full-body-painted, nearly nude parade marcher gives them dignity and worth beyond compare. The same holds true for Michael Brown and every black kid anywhere.

I’m not making judgments about the police officer’s motive, justifiable/unjustifiable action, or his character. But as a culture, put me right smack dab in the center of it, we assume the worst of black men. Throw in a 6’4″ 300 lb frame and being on “the wrong side of town” and you have a Molotov cocktail for disaster. (Ask me about the last time I was in Birmingham, Alabama, and I will confess my sin to you)

There is nothing freakish, thuggish, or threatening about being black and my hope is we will one day look upon the Michael Brown’s everywhere, from cradle to grave, as yet another beautiful reflection of God’s handiwork.

To walk down any street within every city in America and to the assume the best of every person, whether they’re black and wearing a hoody or marching down main street clothed in rainbows; this is my hope and prayer today. The streets of gold will reflect this glorious reality, and my prayer is let it be so here on earth as it is in heaven.

Call me naïve, I don’t really care.