When we had an interview for the position of Youth Leaders at our church we were asked if we had any love for the emergent church. If we did have any emergent affiliations, any connections or sympathies, that would've disqualified us from youth leadership.
I said no.
I said no because all I knew of the emergent church could be summed up in three things:
It was bad.
They hated the Bible.
They were liberal heretics.
I hadn't touched a single article or book written by a leader in the emergent church or been exposed to anything "emergent" except a single Rob Bell video.
My first real blog was on Xanga. Yes, Xanga.
Thanks to a little community I found there, I was exposed to a hippie-ish branch of Christians whose voice was not heard in my real life community.
I'm a bleeding heart liberal hippie at my core, so reading about the Biblical case for things like pacifism, living in community, feeding the poor and how Christianity did not equal being a republican, all spoke directly to me.
This was my very first introduction to people who regularly used names like Scot McKnight and N. T. Wright and Rob Bell. This was my first introduction to egalitarianism.
One of my favorite Xanga bloggers, SirNickDon, mentioned his egalitarian marriage in passing.
I respected him. I enjoyed his writings. I had read enough of his work, given him enough of a chance so that I could see past any theological disagreements we had acknowledge his faith was real, his love for others was real and his love and worship of God was genuine.
And still. And STILL when he mentioned egalitarianism my very first instinct was to doubt that he had read the Bible at all. To doubt his faith, his sincerity, whether or not he held the Bible up as the infallable, inerrant Word of God.
As I remember, Sir Nick Don didn't feel the need to defend his egalitarianism. He approached it as if "this is settled in my own mind and all y'all can take it or leave it - I know what I believe." He had the confidence in his beliefs that I thought belonged only to the "other side" of that debate.
And it bugged me.
It bugged me that someone I respected had a confident, almost nonchalant approach to this ESSENTIAL doctrine of family life. It bugged me that he didn't list of a bunch of reasons or points that I could summarily debunk. It just really, really bugged me.
So, me being me, I researched. I had to. I had to research til I knew why he could have such nonchalant confidence. And I did it on my own power, without pressure from anyone. Just because someone I respected held a different opinion, and held it confidently without trying to convince me to join.
The same thing happened with homosexuality.
I realized someone I really liked, really respected and looked up to had a different opinion than I did.
And they were confident. They shared their belief in love and with that nonchalant manner of someone who knows something to be true. Knows it to be true based on evidence and based on the truth they know in their bones. The truth from their gut.
That truth that didn't need to be proven or have lists of refutations for it to be true.
Augustine (apparently) said "The truth is like a lion. You don't have to defend it. Let it loose. It will defend itself.”
That is an attitude I had (and have) not yet seen among my conservative fundamentalist peers.
And yet almost every time I encountered someone with a differing view that freed people and promoted equality, kindness and (evil word alert!) tolerance, they approached it with this attitude.
In the past I would have explained that away by saying "Look! They have no proof! They just believe this because they want to believe it!"
I could only tell myself that so many times before it began to sound like a hollow excuse.
It sounded like a hollow excuse because it was a hollow excuse.