[Reader’s Alert: The following words are best understood by carefully following the article to the end and by allowing your mind to think along with the writer as he uses his terms.  There is a bit of fun and some pun in the writing, but the main points are of critical import to the mission of Jesus.]

Our God is "hetero" and undeniably committed to those who are “hetero”—absolutely no doubt in my mind.  He would vote “hetero” every single time, no matter what anyone says, thinks, or does, even if few or no others join him.  God is definitely pro-hetero.

I know I’ve got your attention now.  Some of you are sure you know what I’m saying.  You are right, partly.  You are wrong, partly.  And it’s where you’re wrong that must most challenge and change us.  Please, let me explain.

“Hetero” (it’s Greek) means other or different or unlike you and me, or whatever or whoever the point of reference happens to be.  God is definitely "hetero" in this sense.  God’s own self is "hetero." God is “holy” which means different, unlike other things and persons.  In God’s case, God is absolutely other, totally unlike any other thing or person.  Or, God is “hetero.”

The central doctrine of the Christian way of life stands or falls on this point.  The whole point is that the God who is totally other, unqualifiedly "hetero," became like us—which for him was to become "hetero" in still another sense, that is, different than he is otherwise.  Gospel writer John asserts that the Word (i.e., God) became flesh and lived where ordinary flesh lives.  "Hetero" became "hetero! 

Throughout Jesus’ life he shows us how "hetero" God is.  He goes after those who are "hetero," so different, so totally out there, that they’ve nearly fallen or been pushed off the human stage.  Indeed, no one seems so “out there” that the God who is "hetero" can’t reach them.  Which is precisely what Jesus did, and does.  The entire focus of his life is to look for those who are "hetero," who are out of the norm, who no one pays attention to or bothers with.  "Hetero" people capture his heart and draw his love.  He came to seek and to save those who are most different than he—those "hetero" in a mega way.

And, followers of Jesus, God in the flesh, who is "hetero," follow.  They also are “hetero.”  They look for those different, on the edge, over the line.  That is what they were when Jesus found them.   That is what others all around them are now.  Therefore, that is what they now do—they follow, the ones who have been embraced by "the Hetero" who became "hetero" join him in seeking those who are different, “out there,” in whatever and all the ways that can happen. They orient their lives around the "hetero."  They learn to live as though it will kill them if those who are "hetero" don’t know about the One who loved them to death.  And in following a God committed to the "hetero," they experience the totally different (hetero) sort of life for which they were actually made in the first place.  What’s more, in the community of "the Hetero" who goes "hetero," yes, they focus on and reach for, and find ways to embrace others who seem "hetero" to them now.  [Note to selves: they do not tell them they are different; that their difference is killing them, that they are so out there they might fall off the edge into oblivion or worse, that the worst is yet to come—indeed the ultimately worse … No, many if not most of those who are "hetero" in this sense know something is missing and would be open if they could get a convincing hint that it could be different for them—"hetero" in another sense altogether!]  As a matter of fact, followers of Jesus join Jesus in seeking to orient most everything around the "hetero" persons out there.

Now, return to your first thoughts when you read “Our God is hetero.”  Think about those who would confess or proudly declare they are not hetero and in fact not being hetero is just fine, or even better than fine.  Think about them.  Are they not ironically among the “hetero” who seem out there to many of us?  In their celebration of “sameness” are they not really extremely "hetero" from our point of view?  For some who like to talk most often and most loudly about God and the Bible, are they not actually about as far out there as can be?  Of course the answer to these last few questions is “Yes!” 

As I write this I recall the huge stir created by the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas whose pastor Fred Phelps leads groups to demonstrate at the funeral of U.S. soldiers killed in action proclaiming that the soldier’s death is God’s punishment on America for allowing gay people in the military.  Other signs assure us that “God hates f___!” Whether Phelps and company have a constitutional right to protest in this way at funerals has now been taken up by the U.S. Supreme Court. 

In that climate, how will we answer the following questions?  What will we do to join Jesus in reaching toward those who insist they are not hetero, who prefer or can’t help but desire those of the same sex?  What will we do to these who are so different than we are?  Will we champion their basic human worth?  Will we affirm that they are made in God’s own image and may yet reflect that image in glorious ways?  Will we seek to be agents of life and peace toward them?  Will we refuse to make them our enemies—since Jesus never made such a move toward anyone?  When or if any of them declare us their enemies, will we do for them what Jesus did for people who only knew to call him an enemy?  Will we pray for them?  Will we seek to know who they are, where they’ve been, what is important to them?  Will we want to protect them from some who would harm them?  Will we abhor anything that would demean, dehumanize or demonize them?  Will we trust that the One who loves and embraces all who are hetero wants them to find what life can be in relationship with him?  Will we seek to see, hear, and understand them in the way Jesus does?  The list of questions goes on, but you get the idea.



Published by David Kendall

Reverend David W. Kendall, an ordained elder in the Great Plains Conference, was elected to the office of bishop of the Free Methodist Church in May 2005. He serves as overseer of East Michigan, Gateway, Great Plains, Mid-America, North Central, North Michigan, Ohio, Southern Michigan, Wabash, African Area Annual Conferences; and Coordinator of oversight for the World Ministries Center.

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  1. 0

    When I make friends with an”enemy”, they are no longer an enemy but a friend. A.Lincoln

  2. 0

    Thought these were great sentences:
    “And it’s where you’re wrong that must most challenge and change us.” and “They look for those different, on the edge, over the line. That is what they were when Jesus found them.”

  3. 0

    Thanks so much for these on the mark comments. Unfortunately, so much of our self definition involves what we are against, not what we are for. We need to highlight and celebrate the image of God. You may know about a book by Andrew Marin, Love Is An Orientation.

  4. 0

    Excellent points and it is good to see a leader of our church stand up and state the obvious.

  5. 0

    Allow me to add to the questions posed in the final paragraph: Would we guide them toward forgiveness, repentance and wholeness? Would we walk with them through the tempest of recovery from sin and shame? Would we receive them with open arms before, during, and after their break from a sinful and hellish lifestyle? Would we shelter them from vile accusers and say to them, “Go and sin no more”? Would we approach them with sensitivity and directness, exposing their sin, and offering them the Water of Life? In the public arena, where laws are made, would we, as citizens of a democracy, oppose openly and categorically legislation that promotes immorality and subverts and defiles marriage? Will we seek to block the public schools from teaching our children and grandchildren to accept as normal a perverse and destructive lifestyle? Would we stand strong for righteousness, guarding the nation from perilous sins that would cripple our families and condemn our people in the eyes of God? I think it would be well and Christ-like to ask these questions and others like them.

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