A pastor in Sacramento…
A preacher in Fort Worth…
Both, along with too many others, are calling for the death via execution of LGBT Americans. Praying that the survivors of the Orlando shooting, still fighting for their lives, will die. One even going as far as to criticize the shooter for “not finishing the job” and killing more people in the club that night.
All while standing in the shadow of a cross and leaning in to the authority they claim in Jesus Christ.
As I came into one place of worship for services on Sunday morning, the news of “suspicious suitcases” at the doors of a another sanctuary not far from me, the Cathedral of Hope in Dallas, was brought to my attention. By the time I was aware of the situation law enforcement experts had already determined there was no real danger. News outlets were telling of the resilient congregation gathering under trees nearby and continuing to worship.
One week to the day after the Pulse nightclub was targeted by a mass murder, this place of worship for LGBT Christians came under threat. Two sanctuaries of very different origins with one common thread: the people who frequent them are different.
From thousands of pulpits in thousands of churches to millions of congregants across America every week, messages of hope, love and peace are delivered. But sadly that’s not the message all of us hear. If you think differently, if you question the tradition of the church, if you dare to suggest a reading of the scripture that would require reconsideration and change, then the message is one of death and damnation.
I’m not writing today to those leaders. I’m writing to those of you who are on the fence. Those who are looking at the lines being drawn and wondering which side history will honor. More importantly, wondering what God desires for his people in the face of our evolving social, political and spiritual cultures.
Here is my question: is there really a difference between a malicious looking suitcase from a random stranger on the porch of a church building or a malicious message from the mouth a trusted authority figure? I’m not suggesting that we don’t hold each other accountable for our actions. But what actions, to what end?
Here is my challenge: If I am less than loving, less than accepting, less than hopeful and less than gracious, by all means hold me accountable. Call me out and I will either humbly acknowledge my imperfection or engage in a healthy discussion about my choices and actions. But you are good and right to hold me to those standards.
Here is my promise: If there is a way to read scripture that is less damning and more giving, less about who is left out and more about who is embraced, I will seek out that interpretation and let it move me forward.
Teaching my beliefs about God should not cause someone to walk out of a building feeling as if they must walk in fear, rejected and without hope.
All too often those who live with the verbal terrorism of the teaching found in most churchs lose hope to the point they see no path forward in life. By my own observations, Spiritual oppression is a major contributor – perhaps THE major contributor to the suicide rate among LGBT people. If you’re new to the blog I’ll repeat the rates for you: 41% of transgender people and 35% of gay and lesbian people will attempt or plan to kill themselves. By comparison, 3% of the general population will have the same hopeless experience.
For their part, Christian communities in America need to open their hearts and minds to the idea that a person can pursue a loving same-sex relationship and be a Christian; that the concept of gender as God created it is biologically complex and emotionally deep.
Step back, take a deep life giving breath and think about what you say, teach, preach or print before it explodes in the mind and life of someone you love.
This is the spiritual revolution our nation desperately needs.