That sinking feeling, like going off the first hill of a roller coaster, woke me up to a brutal fact: when the church says to Gays and Lesbians: “There is something fundamentally wrong with you. Your sexual identity is sinful.” Those words have a severe and drastic impact.
These words impact the church. They allow the church to say that LGBTQ people are perverts and allow us to look down on them. These words justify the church when it turns away God’s children - because they aren’t attracted to the correct gender. LGBTQ people who want to learn more about Jesus (the lover, the healer, the friend of the sinner, the one God sent because he loved the world so much [John 3:16]) are made to feel unwelcome.
Those words do something to LGBTQ people too. They cause crippling self loathing. They create wounds that never heal. They cause tearful nights praying to this Jesus so that they might be attracted to the opposite sex like everyone else.
The shooter on June 12, 2016 was Muslim, but in the midst of this tragedy, we must look at the log in our own eye. How have we, the body of Christ made space for this hate, disdain and self loathing to grow? How have we encouraged it?
When I heard about all those beautiful children of God gunned down because someone thought they were flawed at their core, I knew that the church was indicted too. The church had said they were broken and that God didn’t have space for them to come in. The church said God doesn’t love those people just as they are.
I praise God that Stahl has heard the call as a church to love unconditionally. I pray that God’s Spirit will strengthen us to embrace those who are different with the reckless abandon that Christ taught us. May we be the safe space that has been denied to LGBTQ people who want to learn about and serve our Jesus too.
With Sadness and Hope,
- Bob Brown, Pastor