I have something to confess and something I want to tell you that I pray will give you hope. It could come off as a shock and you might not believe me, but I am 100 percent convinced of it as truth.
But first, I want to say I am sorry. So sorry. The horrific shooting in Orlando at Pulse that claimed 50 lives and wounded countless others is something I can’t get out of my mind. The senseless wickedness that fueled this mass shooting is beyond my understanding.
I do know this. The power behind this mass shooting is dark. It’s real. And it’s the enemy. As you mourn the friends and family who lost their lives this weekend, our family is in deep prayer for you and the whole LGBT community.
I also have a confession to make. I’m a Christian, a former pastor and a dad of four boys, and I’m sorry for how I’ve treated the LGBT community.
It’s an understatement to say that the relationship between the church and the LGBT community has been a tense one. And, if I’m honest, I’ve been a contributor.
We’ve picketed your parades. Spoken of you and your lifestyle with self-righteous indignation, held back healthcare and benefits from you, for as long as we could, and we’ve made it as difficult as possible for you to live a normal life.
Why? Because our religious tradition says that your lifestyle is sinful.
Let me be honest, as honest as I can be, but hear me out to the end.
I still don’t affirm your lifestyle. That’s kind of tough to say, because down deep I really want to say that this tragic event has changed my thinking about the practice of homosexuality. But it hasn’t. I still hold to my biblical roots on this. But what this tragic shooting has done is make it amazingly clear to me that the way the church (including me) has communicated to and with the LGBT community is wrong.
Not approving of homosexuality does not mean we can’t be friends and dwell in community together and be FOR each other. And I mean really for each other. We’ve so often treated you like someone we’re better than, someone we can’t stand being around and sometimes, in extreme cases, someone we hate.
I’m also sorry for this.
You are more than your sexual orientation.
And so am I.
We are human beings made in the image and likeness of God.
This trumps our orientation every time. This is what we have in common. This is why we can be FOR each other. I’m convinced that the picture of Rev. Kelvin Cobaris with his arms wrapped around gay rights advocate Terry DeCarlo and City Commissioner Patty Sheehan is what our relationship should look like.
Beyond theology, beyond cultural practices and lifestyle choices, we are human beings—a part of this big, global reality we call the human race.
How quickly we forget.
When Jesus came into the world he didn’t come to meet with kings and pastors and dignitaries. Instead, he met with people who were on the margins of society. People who had little to no voice. People who were oppressed by the religious leaders of the day. People who would’ve been looked down on, counted out and thought less-than.
And Jesus gave them a powerful message…
God is for you.
I feel like I need to remind you of this simple truth.
No matter what you see in the world around you. No matter who oppresses you. No matter who counts you out. No matter who won’t let you in to worship. No matter who says you can never get close to holiness. No matter who says you can never be loved or love. No matter who says you’re less-than. No matter who wants to kill you.