Several years ago at church, I sat through a sermon condemning homosexuality. As I listened to the message, my palms began to sweat, my heart pounded, and I started to feel sick to my stomach. I left the church that day and felt like I was on fire; every bone in my body rejected the message.
I went home and prayed and prayed and prayed some more. Why was I wrestling with this so much? How could I disagree so wholeheartedly about something many believe is fundamentally wrong? If I considered myself a believer shouldn’t I believe every single thing written in the bible no matter what? Obviously, picking and choosing what we feel like believing is a big no-no, right?
In my search for clarity on this issue my answer came in an unlikely place. While reading in John I was reminded that the only words Jesus ever wrote were in the sand; words that He knew would disappear almost immediately. Jesus did not leave us a list of do’s and don’ts when He came to Earth. He easily could have, yet He chose not to. Why? I’m not sure, but I think it's because that’s not how Jesus works. I think it’s because He wanted us to know Him well enough to make our own decisions about Him based on our relationship with Him. Maybe He wants us to wrestle with Him, and to work out our own faith with some trembling.
When I consider talking all of these things over with Jesus one day, I imagine explaining to him how my heart understood His message. I realized that I’d be much more afraid to stand in front of Him if I didn’t put in my two cents about this issue than I would if I were to have stayed silent. I know my Jesus, I love Him, and I believe He demonstrated His love for all believers by taking our place on the Cross and paying the debt for our sins with His blood. God doesn't stop loving you when you're married to someone of the same sex. The evidence for God's love is clear, pervasive and unequivocal.
That still, small voice also suggests that I think He’d appreciate if us Christians picked up a couple more issues to address other than homosexuality and abortion. You know, maybe a couple He actually mentioned… like care for the poor and sick and lonely and hungry and imprisoned and widowed and orphaned. Maybe we should all be required to pick an issue that requires US to change and not OTHERS to change.
To this day, many people I discuss this with can’t seem to figure out why I feel so passionately about this issue in particular, saying things like “It’s not like you or any of your close family members or friends are gay.” To them, I would say you’re absolutely right. However, being a Christian to me means loving your neighbor as yourself – therefore this means the people who are being persecuted for their sexuality are my family, and the children who are killing themselves because the world (especially the church) does not accept them are my friends. Being a Believer requires me to love them, to ache for them, and to fight for them with the same urgency I would if I were fighting for myself. The fact that I have never met them before is completely inconsequential, according to Jesus.
Our purpose in relating to the LGBT community must not be to win a theological debate, but to show Christ's love. One of my favorite verses is in Corinthians 13:13 which ends with the words “And these three remain. Hope, faith, and love. And the greatest of these is love.” There will come a point when hope and faith cease to exist. When the next world is revealed, we will know… we won’t need hope or faith anymore. Those two are temporary. Hope and faith exist only to help us make it though this life. But love. Love is eternal. Love never ends. The love we offer and receive in this world we’ll carry with us into the next. The greatest of these is love. At the end of the day, we are put on this earth to love God and love our neighbors, not with a "love the sinner, hate the sin" type of love but a love that is pure, unrelenting and kind.
Photography by Garrett Lobaugh