The way I approached people and life came to a crashing halt last summer when I had no choice but to look my fear of getting it wrong in the face and see the damage I’d done to the people around me with my careless judgments. It was mid-August when my shift in perspective began, when I found out something about a friend of mine that, when I’m honest, hit a fear chord deep within me. For all the Bible classes I’d taken, for all the messages I’d sat through, for all the mentoring that had been given to me, I was in unchartered territory with no idea what to do.
So, like anyone else who’s afraid, I rooted out the problem. It was such a deep, resonating fear and I was sure that God was on my side. I’d always wanted to hold my faith in one hand and my desire to love people deeply in the other…but wasn’t there a line? Wasn’t there a boundary? Wasn’t there a darkness even God wouldn’t step foot in? It was what had been taught to me all my life in the sorting of sin into meh, okay-but-not-great, bad-but-not-too- bad, bad-and-let’s-not-talk-about-it-just-ask-Jesus-for-forgiveness-and-it’ll-be- fine, and oh-my-gosh-how-do-you-live-with-yourself?
I used the standard Christian line, “I’m doing this out of love. I have nothing but love for you, but I can’t watch you go down this path,” and sent my friend on their way. With one bang of my gavel, I’d banished a friend from my life and broken a friendship because of my own fear. The following week of my life was one of misery, listening to nothing but Steven Furtick messages and feeling a restlessness in my spirit I couldn’t get away from. Had I done the right thing? You’re supposed to rebuke out of love, right?
It’s a long story how I arrived at the point I’m at, but the tipping point was when I was searching for answers and realized the problem was me and my fear, not my friend. My friend was living life on their terms and walking in spirituality the way that made sense for them and I was arrogant enough to make myself the judge and the jury over something that had nothing to do with me. Less than a week after the heinous texts I’d lashed out, I called my friend at midnight and said, “Can we talk?” We went for coffee at midnight and sat across the table from each other, my friend listening through guarded eyes while I spilled my pride and apologized with tears running down my face.
What I’ve learned over the past 10 months since that night in August 2019 is that I’d rather be uncomfortable than comfortable and hurting marginalized communities. In my perspective, being comfortable is deadly. Being comfortable is as anti-gospel as it gets. Being comfortable is to let the enemy use your neighbor as a punching bag. I will not stand by and let my friends suffer in the name of Jesus just because I’m so paralyzed by my own fear of needing to get it right. I will stand and shout who Jesus really is until my voice is cracking and raspy and they’re sick of hearing me.
That brings us to pride month 2020. I’ve been a secret ally for a couple years now, starting to listen a little more than I spoke. It’s been seven years since I quoted Romans 1 to someone who came out to me and thought I had all the answers because I was required to take two Bible classes a year in college. It’s taken me awhile to come to this conclusion, but all I know is I don’t know all the answers and I don’t need to know them to love my friends in the lgbtq+ community.
As someone who follows Jesus and believes He is who He says He is, my duty is to save a seat at the table for you. My duty is to uplift you, care for you, and listen when you need a friend. My duty is not to hold Jesus hostage from you for political gain. Jesus is not on a leash. He is accessible to us all. If I was just allowed to come to the cross as I am…why can’t you?
And even if you’re not a christian like I am, my duty is to see the humanity in you and love you even if we disagree on our faiths. That shouldn’t even be a question, but there are a lot of christians who don’t see it that way and I know that because I used to be one of them.
I don’t sit here and write this to you now as a theologian or as a spiritual gatekeeper or as someone who has all the answers. God knows I don’t. I don’t have a phD and I haven’t sat with scholars dissecting biblical theology. I don’t have a divine checklist in my back pocket of what’s right and what’s wrong. (Believe me, I’ve asked for one.) Yes, I’ve read the arguments on both sides. Yes, I’ve read the verses. And I don’t know, friend. I really don’t know all the answers.
But here’s what I do know: you’re deeply, madly loved just how you are. I know you’re not a mistake. I know you were created intentionally and you’re beautiful.
I haven’t always been a safe space, but I’m here now and I do know that I will be your ally, your friend, and your soundboard. I won’t try to wash away the gay because a.) I can’t b.) you can’t c.) you being gay has zero to do with your identity.
I know that I will fight for your right to exist, your right to love, your right to marry, your right to have a family, your right to be right there in the middle of church with the rest of us without judgment or harassment. I know that in the question, “Can I be gay and a christian?” the answer is a resounding yes. I will attend your wedding, show up for your baby showers, cheer you on, and answer your call at 3 am like I would for any of my other friends.
No matter what the world tells you, all that I really know is that you are welcome here. When you break the gospel down to its core, the message is simple: We are all broken, but valued and loved by God. Jesus is the only one that has ever been perfect and he conquered death. Until He returns, we are to take care of each other, worship the one, true God, and take the light to the dark places. That’s it.
Yes, you have your flaws. God knows we all do. And friend, being gay is not one of them. Lean into Jesus. Go where He leads. And don’t feel a need to owe any of us any sort of explanation as to where you land.
In solidarity and much love,