When you grow up in the Christian Bible Belt, there are plenty of things we are told to stay away from. Whether you grew up Pentecostal, Baptist, Methodist, etc, there are a few things in common that we have grown up believing. But here is the biggest thing I learned from the LGBTQ+ community.
Maybe people tell you not to talk about the Devil or he’ll come after you. Maybe people tell you that if you watched scary movies, you were opening demonic doors into the spiritual realm. Or maybe people tell you that if you befriended people living a life of sin then their lifestyle will rub off on you.
Love is NOT Hypocritical
Despite the religious background, we’ve all got some pretty odd assumptions about spirituality and God. One of those assumptions is a false idea that God hates gay people. First of all, God is all-encompassing, inviting, welcoming, and full of grace and mercy. And if that’s the case, then He isn’t capable of hating anyone. I’m not sure where we get the notion that the LGBTQ+ community are evil people and need to be rejected. Let me tell you, they have
What kind of love is that? If we’re supposed to love our neighbors, that means we are to love ALL of our neighbors. The black ones, the white ones, the gay ones, the straight ones, the democratic ones and the republican ones and everyone else in between. We don’t get to pick and choose who we should extend grace to. God says that we should love those around us even if and especially if they don’t look, act, talk, or think like us.
My First Real Experience with the LGBTQ+ community
I remember my first real experience with the LGBTQ+ community. It was a very hard experience for me. And if I’m being honest, it was a very daunting experience. In fact, my very best friend all throughout middle school came out our Freshmen year of High School. I remember the confusion and the feelings of betrayal. I didn’t believe it and knew I needed to remind my friend that it’s not God’s way of living and I couldn’t associate myself around her.
Y’all. How disheartening of me! I remember telling her I couldn’t be around her or stay the night at her house any longer. It just felt so awkward and uncomfortable and I just didn’t know what to do. I remember lying in my bed, crying myself to sleep because I realized that our friendship was over. But I didn’t realize just how nasty I had been.
I didn’t realize that those comments stung and that both she and I have to carry that memory for the rest of our lives. The very fact that those words still haunt her today. The shame and guilt that I still have 9 years later still haunts me. Even after multiple apologies, several conversations and mutual understandings later, it still eats me up inside. They say that satan is a vile serpent lurking around to kill, steal, and destroy. But in those moments, I felt like a vile serpent. I was completely out of line and totally out of love. I stole the life from my friendship and killed off any hope of coming out to a close friend without rejection. And I destroyed any honesty and trust between my friend and I. Of course, I immediately felt guilt right after I made the comments.
The Biggest Thing I Learned From The LGBTQ+ Community
You want to know what the biggest thing I learned from the LGBTQ+ community? That they are still people. They are still worthy of love and acceptance. Just because you may not accept their lifestyle, that doesn’t mean we should neglect their lives. And especially the Church of all people should know that After having multiple conversations friends and people on the internet, you begin to realize that gay people are still people. Gay people still have hurt, pain, challenges, and obstacles they are dealing with. Gay people also have joy in their hearts in celebrating other human beings and are capable of loving those around them.
After you read this, I want to challenge you to seek those whom you may have harmed with your words or actions. If we are called by God to extend love and grace, we need to start practicing what we preach. Maybe you have an old friend or a family member of the LGBTQ+ community that you have wronged, it’s time we operate out of love. It’s time we stop allowing our differences dictate how we love our neighbor.
This week, Cody and I once again sat down with David Hayward, the Naked Pastor, about the Church, LGBTQ+, and how to love those around us. David is a huge ally and advocate for the LGBTQ+ community as well others who have been hurt by religion. David truly exemplifies the very love we should have for people. We talk about the different shifts we can make to extend the love and grace that we proclaim Jesus has for all His people. You can find this week’s episode here.