Christians & Gays: Part 2
I had more thoughts about my blog post the other day. So, here they are:
I once was (and possibly still am, I haven't checked lately, for my own sanity) part of a Facebook group of Christian leaders. At one point there was a discussion about gay people and Christianity and someone remarked that a gay person can't be a Christian because you can't have unrepentent sin in your heart and still be considered a "saved" follower of Christ. This is infuriating to me for a lot of reasons, but the thing that makes me the most angry is that, by saying that, you're implying you don't also have unrepentant sin in your heart.
And that's just ridiculous.
You know how many times I have whole heartedly sinned and probably not repented for it? Spoiler alert: it's a lot. We're sinful people, we have a sinful nature. We sin more often than we eat tacos (no? just me?).
That's the beauty of Christ. We don't have to spend our prayer time listing every single sin we committed that day and repenting for it. Jesus covers all of them, even issues we might be wrong on (which we should be praising him loudly for, by the way).
Which brings me to my next point.
Guys, we might be wrong on some things. I think it's time we admit that the church hasn't always had the best track record when it comes to making good choices. There's the whole Catholic vs. Protestant business, the Crusades, Spanish Inquisition, Salem Witch Trials, being pro-slavery and anti-women. And that's not even mentioning all the religious leaders Jesus was angry at in the Gospels for making questionable choices.
News flash guys...WE'RE the religious leaders today.
We're the religious majority. We're the ones being oppressors, making life difficult for others, putting rules and law above love and compassion.
We're the ones Jesus speaks against.
Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees are the official interpreters of the law of Moses. So practice and obey whatever they tell you, but don’t follow their example. For they don’t practice what they teach.They crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden.
- matthew 23:1-4
We look back in history and can easily point out where we went wrong before. "Sure," we say," but that's not us today. We learned from our mistakes."
Did you know that suicide is the leading cause of death among LGBT youth? That LGBT kids are 2 to 6 times more likely to kill themselves than straight kids and that almost 50% of LGBT youth have attempted suicide more than once? The statistics among Christian LGBT teens is even higher.
Kids are killing themselves. Yet we continue to preach about hellfire and damnation because of someone's sexual orientation.
Before we go any further, let me ask you this. Have you ever struggled with your sexuality? I can't imagine how difficult it must be. Something as innate and personal as sexual orientation is not a switch you can flip, it's deep within you, part of who you are. If you're straight, just imagine flipping it to make yourself gay all of a sudden- how easy would that be? Probably not doable. It's the same way for gay people.
If being gay was a choice, who would choose it? You know you'll be up against a lifetime of bullying, backlash, hatred and discrimination, possibly even violence and attacks because of your "choice." And on top of that you have the entire Christian community up in arms every time you're awarded a right you're entitled to.
Would you choose that?
I've heard so many stories of gay adults who spent the first 20 years of their lives desperately praying, begging, and pleading for God to take away their feelings, to make them "normal" and straight. At a certain point they learned to accept who they were (and even be proud of it!) and yet we're continually trying to push them back down, tell them they're "not right" and that they're not welcome until they're "fixed".
These messages we're shouting are being heard not always by self-confident, self-assured gay adults who have accepted themselves for who they are, we're shouting this at kids. Scared, hopeless, terrified kids who think they're broken and will spend eternity in hell because they can't "fix" themselves.
These are kids in your church. Kids in your youth group. Maybe even kids in your own family.
And these kids are killing themselves because they see no way out.
Let me ask you one more question. What's better, a gay person who doesn't know Jesus, or a gay person who knows with all their heart that Jesus loves them and died for their sins and that they'll spend eternity with him?
Because here's the deal, the "gays" aren't going to "un-gay" themselves. They're here to stay. So how we treat them will define the next 20 or 30 or 50 years of the church. How we treat them will show the world what Jesus really is about. And church, it's really time we show them who Jesus actually is, because so far the Jesus picture we've been painting is a sad shadow of Christ, to say the least. The Jesus picture we've been painting is about as accurate as this drawing I just did of Marshall.
I know it's hard, I know we want to go back to how things used to be, to the good old days when gay people just quietly married the opposite sex and lived with depression and self-loathing for the rest of their lives. But unfortunately, that's just not where we are now. (That was a joke, just in case that wasn't clear...)
Where we are now is an entire community of LGBT people feeling not just discriminated against, but attacked by Christians.
Attacked by Christians. Is that what Jesus wants from us? For any group to ever feel attacked by his followers?
You know who Jesus never got angry at? The people who were hurt, broken, and scared. You know who he did get angry at? The religious leaders. And who are they again? Oh yeah, US.
Honestly, I would rather my church be filled with "un-repentant gays" who love Jesus than straight people who have no compassion for the hurt and brokenness around them. And based on the precedent he set, I think Jesus might agree.
*Short sidenote: I am sorry if this comes across as angry or harsh in any way, but this is a BIG deal. People's lives, kids lives, are at stake. So forgive me if there's anything I've said in a way that you don't like, but please try to get past that and see the actual message.
*Sidenote 2: If you are or know a gay teen or anyone dealing with a crisis, suicidal thoughts, or just need someone to talk to, there are lots of people who want to help. One great resource is The Trevor Project. Please get help if you're struggling with this. There are people who love you and care about you!