Dear LGTBQ+ Friends,
You are not alone.
There are many of us who love you, support you, and embrace you exactly as you are and because of who you are. But fear has kept us from publicly supporting you- for we have seen the hatred, the signs, the attacks, the exclusions. We have heard your painful stories. We have read the news articles. We remain silent because we want to protect you- and to protect ourselves.
But this silence and secrecy are exactly what those who do not understand want us to do. Our silence keeps things as they are. And so today I am adding one more voice, my voice of support, that represents many others who have quietly confided their support with me. This is a letter of encouragement and friendship and love. I hope you are blessed.
You are beloved.
You are beloved by God and by so many of us, not in spite of your orientation or gender, but including your orientation, sexuality, gender, and understanding. You are loved for who you are, for you ARE whom God created you to be.
St. Therese of Lisieux, a beloved saint, saw herself as the “little flower of Jesus” who understood how she could give glory to God simply by living as her beautiful, unique, humble self among the others flowers in God’s garden. She praised God by fully being whom God created her to be. If only all of us could follow her example! What a glorious garden- full of colorful variety- we could create, pleasing and blessing God.
A friend once told me that she liked gay people but then added, “I just wish they weren’t gay.” I thought of my loved ones and how I would not wish to change anything about them. What makes us who we are includes everything we are- physically, spiritually, mentally, emotionally, culturally; our experiences, religions, teachings, orientations, understandings, beliefs. We all are the entire package! I would not wish to miss the relationships I have enjoyed as I learned and grew through my dear ones’ beautiful spirits, deep souls, joyful creativity, enlightened spirituality, crazy humor, and insightful wisdom.
I only wish I would have said all this aloud.
You are not sinful when you live out your true orientation or sexual identity.
I am not a Biblical scholar. (Then again, can anyone truly comprehend and fully understand this living Word?) But I have studied, listened, pondered and discerned what the Bible tells me- and especially what Jesus tells me- about sexual orientation and living in our true identity. Everything I have learned shows me that living as an LGTBQ+ person is not sinful.
For example, I learned that the rules listed in Leviticus were written by Pharisaic rulers as a “holiness code” to keep the Jewish people separate and pure as God’s chosen ones during the Babylonian Exile. Looking through the book of Leviticus, one will find a number of rules regarding diet, Sabbath-keeping, and religious rituals that most of us no longer keep. Tucked among them are rules about sexual relations. The holiness code has a separate purpose from the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments were given to show us how to love God and love one another, while the holiness codes were intended to keep a culture separate and intact. These rules were also written with a very limited knowledge of sexual orientation or identity at that time. (If anyone would like some resources on this topic, let me know.)*
More significantly, Jesus then showed us how to truly live as children of God. He refrained from adhering to Old Testament rules whenever they interfered with loving and caring for one another. For example, he healed the sick and gathered grain for his disciples to eat even though it was the Sabbath. In this, he showed us how we miss the intent of the law when we focus on obeying outdated and stringent rules instead of living in love. He summed up “all the law and the prophets” by giving us the two greatest commandments: Love God. Love one another.
Jesus seems to be showing me that it isn’t about rule keeping but about the love intended by the rules.
So when we live in love and humble service to others, whether as individuals or as partners, we are honoring and loving God, too. When we hurt one another, or when we are unkind or unloving, we are being sinful. This is true for all of us, no matter our orientation or gender.
I hope you are encouraged today.
This letter is to simply let you know that I am one of many who are with you and support you. I hope you know and experience this God who loves you completely, too. I hope you don’t let the way religion has distorted God to ever keep you from experiencing God’s true love and work in your life. God has made you beautifully and God wants to help you, love you, and fill you with all joy and hope.
I hope you feel a little less alone today. Please know how much you are loved by God- and by those of us who wish we would have spoken sooner.
*A book I recently found very helpful and encouraging is Torn, by Justin Lee.