Dr Gushee spoke about how "being a bystander" is a natural response when we see people in trouble. Only a small fraction of bystanders are ready or able to become allies - to voluntarily move from privilege to a posture of solidarity. (In the case of "Christian" Gentiles helping Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe, the focus of Dr Gushee's early research, the proportion who became allies was less than one percent). He gave three factors that encourage this move to allyship: relationships, compassion and courage. And he noted that the two major narratives of the Bible - Exodus and Incarnation - are themselves narratives of allyship.
There is a price to be paid for being an ally, especially (at the moment) for being a Christian ally of LGBTQ people. For Dr Gushee himself, it has led to a steady stream of "disinvitations". Conservative Christians fear they will be contaminated by sharing the same conference or platform as an acknowledged ally of LGBTQ people. Still more heartbreaking to me was to read the story of Joy Beth Smith, a young staffer working for James Dobson's Focus on the Family organization. Smith was fired last November after posting 'a Facebook status lamenting transgender suicide'. Just think about that for a moment. Even lamenting the loss of some of God's children (should they happen to belong to an excluded class) is so scary to FOTF that they want to banish such lamentation from the private social media accounts of those who happen to work for them. (Even FOTF seems to have felt some shame over this, as they offered Ms Smith severance money if she would sign a non-disclosure agreement which would have meant we would never have learned of these events. Courageously, she did not; I cannot resist quoting, Nevertheless, she persisted.)
I thank God for David Gushee, for Mary Beth Smith, for Mark Tidd, for Nadia Bolz-Webber, for Ben Wideman... the list can go on... for all the allies. I believe that the change we are working for is right, is beautiful, and is unstoppable. But there will surely be trouble along the way. Courage!