I was traumatized by my time in church. The years of sitting in pews, Bible studies, and coffee shops with Christian leaders, listening to variation upon variation of how wrong homosexuality is, slowly eroded me. Words might not seem that powerful, but if they are a steady trickle, coursing over your young mind which is porous as fresh soil, they carve out whole canyons of self loathing.
Last year, I wrote an article called Talking About LGBT People: A Tutorial. The basic gist of the article was that, when it comes to straight, conservative Christians trying to understand gay people, listening is better than talking. This thesis is obviously a good one: we should all listen more intently, and be less willing to offer hair-trigger responses to difficult situations. I stand by that central thesis.
But, for the past year, this article has been a grain of sand in my conscience, irritating and troubling me. I’ve meditated a great deal on my words in this post, and I now believe that an amendment is in order.
When I go to my weekly 12 step meeting, there is a tent card on the table titled “Cross Talk Guidelines.” These guidelines are what make the meeting one of the most life-giving, challenging, and nurturing places I’ve ever been. As I’ve been moving through my recovery, I’ve started to apply the Cross Talk Guidelines to the rest of life – work, family, and most of all, the internet.