But I'm having a hard time this week, as many of us are, following the multiple tragic events in Orlando over the last few days. On the subject of Pulse, it's more than likely that my words are not needed. There are a number of other voices within the LGBTQ and Hispanic communities who are already speaking...and should be heard. Me? I'm straight, white, and cisgender. And while I feel no need to apologize for my identity because of its inherent privilege, I will certainly acknowledge that privilege, as well as the fact that far too often my voice is heard above others for no other reason than because I can check a particular set of boxes regarding sexual orientation, race, and gender identity.
So let me say this: I'm not really writing today to be heard. I'm writing today to ask questions.
My own beliefs and personal opinions are of no importance here. I will say - if you're a new reader and you don't already know - that I'm a Jesus follower and I love Him with everything I have. This is important because I want you - whoever you are - to be aware that I know how the Church has failed its LGBTQ brothers and sisters. In the past, I'm sure I've been a part of that failure. And because I'm human there might be times in the future, or even in this post, when I fail again despite my best efforts. Please know that I'm trying.
With that being said, I've also seen a great many successes within the Church in its approach to a community so many others have found troublesome. Nothing brings me greater joy than to witness Christians leave the disclaimer off their love for LGBTQ persons. It seems that far too often we'll declare our love for them but ONLY with the caveat that we hate their sin. Do we say that to our children? Our spouses? How heartbreaking such a thing must feel to believers who don't fit into the straight, cisgender boxes. When I imagine a young woman questioning her sexuality, a young woman who loves Jesus, hearing a friend or leader say, "I love you, BUT..." it saddens me deeply. These are not the words of our Savior. There is no comma at the end of His love for us. He says "I love you" and that's the full story. My love for my husband includes everything about him; your love for your child is the same. Our love for one another should follow this example regardless of beliefs, no caveats needed.
I have questions, a broken heart, and a lot of love I think could be useful. I'm not interested in a theological discussion or declarative statements about right or wrong here. There's a time and place for such things, and those discussions are important, but not today. Today is about inviting my LGBTQ brothers and sisters in the Church to tell me what they need.
How are you hurting and how can I help?
What is it you want me to know, but haven't felt able to say?
Have I personally caused you pain? Will you forgive me?
In what way are you frightened, and how can I support you?
Do you need a Christ community where you can feel safe? (My couch is really comfortable and I have an endless supply of coffee. And hugs.)
One of the things I admire most about the LGBTQ community is how incredibly FOR each other they are. As a Church, we could really use a lesson in celebrating together. My own church does this wonderfully and I beam with pride when I talk about it. But we've been Blessed with a capital B that Atlanta is a city where Big Love Churches abound. I'm eternally grateful to the men and women who have made that happen. And it grieves me that few Christians, and even fewer LGBTQ believers, knows what that's like. I hope they will one day - sooner rather than later - and I hope I get to be a part of it.
If you're okay with it, I'd really like that day to be today.
My questions are genuine. My heart is open. And my email inbox is ready for you.