Last night, I tweeted this:
“I’m a straight ally pastor who is here for you dealing w/
#TheStrugglesOfBeingGay. God loves you just as you are! :)”
I received a few responses from people on Twitter. I think they needed to hear that there are people of faith who support and love them.
How could I not tweet this? Jesus the Christ loved everyone. Am I not called to do the same thing?
But that’s not the only reason.
I have experienced the unconditional, steadfast love of God through my gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered friends. They have been open to sharing Christ’s radical love. And this has led me to becoming a straight ally.
Since college, I continuously have new LGBT friends coming into my life. I’ve met them through friends, work and school. Some of my dearest friends have come out to me since we’ve met, and others have come out years prior to our meeting.
This is what I would say to those of you who are my LGBT friends in a friendship letter of love:
I think you are all so very brave to truly be the person God has made you. And I am blessed by all of you in my life.
When I’ve been down, you have listened to me. When I’ve been sick, you have brought me food. You have prayed with me in times of trouble. We’ve laughed together, and we’ve cried together. You have encouraged me in my calling and been a huge part of my faith journey.
You are witnesses to the steadfast presence of Christ in our friendships and in this world. You’ve extended hands of hospitality and truly cared about me just as I am.
To my friends who identify as gay, lesbian, transgendered, bisexual, queer, asexual, questioning and fellow straight allies… thank you.
This is a letter of love back to you. Our orientations and gender identities may be different, and I don’t know the true capacity of strife you’ve experienced in your lives. But I am proud to stand next to you and say we are all children of God, and we are all made in God’s image. We all want joy in our lives, and we all want to be loved just as we are.
Thank you for inviting me to your weddings to see new covenants being made. Thank you for breaking bread with me. Thank you for allowing me to be a visitor in your homes. My life is better because you are in it.
Now, to my friends who are still in the camp of “traditional” marriage (a.k.a. marriage between one man and one woman): I recognize that you will not all will agree with me. Many just aren’t there when it comes to expanding marriage, yet you treat LGBT people with respect. I try to be sensitive about voicing my views to people who aren’t quite at the same place I am about gay marriage and various gay rights. Experiencing new people and new situations takes a certain comfort level. I highly encourage you to continue conversations with LGBT friends, and maybe your views on love, life and God will change.
And then there are people who are relentless about keeping love in a box: those who use the Bible against their fellow sisters and brothers. I realize that standing quietly by and allowing seriously bigoted views to float through our atmosphere does not make sense anymore. Allowing bullying and slanderous words should no longer be in our society.
I’ve heard from some people think that loving a person requires trying to change someone into becoming straight, and that being gay is not good enough. So here’s what I’d like to say to these friends. Here’s my letter to those who have closed themselves off from having unconditional loving relationships with their LGBT sisters and brothers:
I have to ask you a couple questions: How would you like it if someone wanted to change something about you that you could not change? How would you enjoy living in a world where people didn’t love you for who you are.
You see, my LGBT friends are moral. Extremely moral and kind. They know Christ in ways that many bigoted people seem to miss. They know Christ in ways that I have even neglected sometimes. All they want is to have the same chances at love as you do. And I’m sorry that those of you who are my close-minded friends have missed out on such love and beauty in your lives.
I also do not want my LGBT friends hurting anymore. I want them to feel the same dignity you and I feel. I want them to feel no shame. I want them to experience the overflowing love of God. And that is why I write to you today.
My prayers are that God helps you see people and the human condition in new ways – mostly so that you will have an enriched life full of overflowing love.
After watching Lincoln this weekend, I had to write this. It came to mind that, generation after generation, some people feel the need to oppress others to keep their status of life more valid. What happens when slaves are freed – will they get to vote? What happens when they vote – will women get to vote? Justice is a slippery slope. But that’s the good and decent slippery slope that needs to happen. Through logic, I see how those who defended slavery and stood against voting rights for minorities and women were on the wrong side of justice. Those who stood against interracial marriage were on the wrong side of justice. In 50 years, people will wonder why so many in the early 21st century stood on the wrong side of justice. Just like those defending injustice decades ago, they used God and the Bible as their reasoning (yet continued to eat bacon-wrapped shrimp).
For Martin Luther King, Jr. said “The arc of the universe is long but it bends towards justice.”
Join me on this side of the arc of justice. If you haven’t had the chance to get to know LGBT people around you, I highly suggest it. They will bless your lives in new ways. Listen to their stories. Hear the struggles they’ve endured. Know that God will be presence as you listen to each.
I feel that writing this is a bit of a risk. But, in this life, I feel the necessity to share God’s overflowing love. That’s the love that brings connection and understanding. And how wonderful of a world it would be if we could experience this in one another!
I thank all of you who have open my eyes to new types of love. Let’s keep love outside of the box today, this Valentine’s Day and throughout the year.