Like most, my mind has been whirling with emotions, ranging from heart-break to anger and every emotion in between, over the violent mass shooting that took place earlier this week at Pulse, a LGBT+ nightclub in Orlando, Florida. 50 lives were brutally and prematurely ended while an additional 50-plus were tragically wounded, causing an uproar over issues of gun control and our constitutional rights, in addition to an outpouring of support for the victims’ friends and family members. I have always loved seeing our nation– and world beyond– rally in the face of tragedy. It reveals there is still good in the world. And as much as I relish in bringing together community, wide-ranging in races, religions, sexual orientation, etc., I fear this support from fundamentalist Christians will wane and judgment of the LGBT+ lifestyle will resume.
No one wishes violence like open fire or hostile, hate-filled physical vengeance on others, but somehow we turn a blind-eye to snide remarks, jokes, boycotting businesses that support LGBT+, or even physically distancing oneself from this community in any means possible (I personally know someone who won’t get into the same car with an openly gay person). Instead, florists, caterers, and other businesses who refuse service to those in this community are applauded. Obviously, these prejudices are not tied to physical damage, but more so to emotional damage. And as Christians, we seem to be OK with that. Even if we are not engaging in this mistreatment, we also are not taking a stand in support of our brothers and sisters. It’s this mentality of:
You don’t have to like them, but you can’t shoot them.
You don’t have to serve them, but you can’t shoot them.
You don’t have to support them, but you can’t shoot them.
How big of us to draw the line there.
The problem with drawing the line there is it allows those outside the LBGT+ community to continue to look upon them with contempt, disgust, with suspicious stares—essentially continuing to intentionally oppress them. Without a doubt, this mars the image of Christ—the very characteristics of Him which drew us to Him. I cannot help but to think of 1 John 4:19, which reminds us that “We love because He [Jesus] first loved us”. Gosh! What if He condemned us like we condemn this community? What if He refused to wash our feet, take our burdens, forgive us, die on the cross for us? We did not earn that grace. We cannot earn that grace! Instead, “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
Can I tell you just how much that means to me?!!!
I can already hear the words of my nay-sayers. “But… being gay is a sin. We have a responsibility to call them out”. Ahhh, my dear friends, my heart aches over this on-going debate. It is not an “Us vs. Them” issue. It’s not about turning a blind eye or watering down the Word of God. On the contrary!
The Word of God needs to be lived and breathed and shouted—and remembered! God’s Word is a message of Love, not hate; not judgement—but gosh—I’m not sure the world, primarily this community, knows that.
I’ve wondered as a Christ-follower, if I’ve missed the fine print somewhere—you know that seemingly unspoken expectation that we’ll band together to “love the sinner, but hate the sin”, which for the majority of people I know looks a lot like drawing the line at physical violence, not at hateful words, actions, or inaction. Does that fine print also caution us against showing this community love; that they have value, and purpose; that they are just as loved, accepted, and forgiven by Christ as we are? Though I am generalizing, I have to ask, how does the church–people desiring to imitate the character of Christ; desiring to live to a higher purpose/calling– justify this behavior?
Sure, we show love when someone has been shot and killed, but can we show love and compassion in the day to day activities? What the hell is the difference? I wonder what Christ would have done?
This is not merely a Christian issue, it’s a people issue.