I grew up believing it wasn’t okay to be homosexual or bisexual. I had no idea what transgender was until a few years ago. I confess I am still learning the intricacies of what “being trans” really means. I assumed, though, that transgender probably wasn’t okay either, according to the Christian doctrine in which I was raised.
A few years ago I noticed what I had learned in my Christian faith wasn’t matching the feelings in my heart. I was hearing that living as LGBTQ is against God’s will and truth, but I was feeling God’s grace, mercy, and love is applicable to everyone. I’ve sat back for several years now, watching, listening, reading, praying, trying to sort out the confusion within myself. I’ve kept quiet on the matter believing that adding my voice to such a divisive subject only helped widen the chasm between the two sides– it’s right, it’s wrong. It’s sin, it’s not sin. They deserve, they don’t deserve. I’ve seen the Bible verses and analyses for both sides of the topic. I’ve also learned in my own life nothing about God or His word is as clear cut as it appears.
I’ve tried on “hate the sin, love the sinner.” While it seemed to make sense on the surface, it didn’t fit my heart either. To hate a sin means I have to judge something as sinful. It is not my place to judge something as sinful let alone rally around my hate of it, because I am sinful all the damn time. To hate someone else’s sin makes me a judgmental hypocrite. This quote also asks me to put conditions on my love. “I love you, BUT…” I can’t love that way; I don’t want to be loved that way.
So, I did what I always do when I am confused. I turn to Jesus. What does He have to say to me about the issue: “A new command I give you, love one another as I have loved you.”
When I look at Jesus, he never threw anyone’s sin in their face. He loved people–radically–despite their sins. He healed them. He talked to them. He ate with them. He stood up for them. He never shamed or condemned people for their sin. Jesus didn’t avoid or withhold respect from people who were seen as immoral or distasteful. He totally disregarded the lines of discrimination and segregation, going out of his way to be in the presence of and love folks who were seen as living “ungodly.” If being LGBTQ is sinful or a religious abhorrence, I would never know it by watching Jesus.
Secondly, I don’t need to wrestle with the question of whether being LGBTQ is sinful because it doesn’t actually matter. It’s not my job to decide if other people are sinning or how they are sinning. The command is to love the same way He did. That’s it. No conditions.
I don’t yet fully understand what being LGBTQ means and what the culture looks like for different gender identities. I am in process of learning. But the Jesus kind of love doesn’t require me to understand. Radical love means I accept, honor, respect, protect, and support people even though something about their lives jolts my brain in a different way. While my brain might be challenged my heart isn’t.
My heart hurts when I see the suicide rates for transgender teens; hear stories of families kicking a child out of the home because of his/her sexual orientation; sense cold tension between mothers and sons, fathers and daughters, brothers and sisters because of gender conflict. My heart breaks when I hear of churches who either won’t welcome or welcome-with-conditions people of the LGBTQ community. Putting conditions on someone’s welcome into a church is a side door to discrimination. Partial acceptance is 100% hurtful to anyone, including Jesus, searching for a fully embraced relationship.
I believe every person has a right to live proudly, safely, and equally with dignity as who they identify to be. That’s just good humanity. As a Jesus follower, I get to offer a special kind of love in addition to all that. I see my faith as pathway to loving LGBTQ lives, not an inhibitor.
For me as a Christian, to tell someone it’s wrong to be LGBTQ and/or to hatefully chastise them for living what’s normal for them would be no worse than someone telling me it’s wrong to identify myself as a daughter of God and/or to hate on me when I pray to or write about God. I love my LGBTQ brothers and sisters and fully support them in who they are because God does. I believe He loves them and holds them close. I believe He is grieved by the hate, discrimination, and rejection they face in our world, especially by the church. LGBTQ folks are adopted and adored children of God just as I am. Their desires are the same: to be in relationship and to find happiness. There is no greater happiness than feeling the full embrace of radical love.
My friend sent me two links to insightful, enlightening, and articulate perspectives from transgender young people, one male (Liam Posovich) and one female (Nicole Maines). I encourage you to listen with an open mind and really hear what they’re saying. My heart was absolutely moved.