You’re LGBTQ—and I want you to know as a pastor that I don’t blame you.
I don’t blame you for rejecting Christianity.
I bet it all feels a lot like a well advertised “Come As You Are” party, though you’re pretty much told at every turn that you can’t really come as you are. I imagine you get tired of being blamed by Christians for every evil in the world; the failure of America, the collapse of Marriage, the corruption of the family, the erosion of morality in Hollywood, the degradation of the Scouts and the Army, and everything else you dare to take part in or offer your gifts to.
As you survey your news feed or the comments section of your favorite song, and as you are bombarded with the blogs and radio shows and tossed-off jokes; with the political rants, incendiary sermons, and social media tirades, I suppose you feel like you’re Public Enemy Number 1 of this faith tradition.
It must be exhausting.
I don’t blame you for thinking that all Christians are hypocrites.
I’m sure you have a small handful of Scripture passages ripped from their context and violently shoved in your face all the time, by supposed religious people who rarely seem to want to live their own lives by the Bible they so willingly wield like a hammer. You hear church folk mindlessly parroting, “Hate the sin, love the sinner,” yet don’t get much from them that feels at all like love—in fact you’re fairly certain it’s quite the opposite.
I know that you are surrounded by professed “Biblical Christians” who are divorced, who love money, who neglect the poor, who dishonor their marriages—and that you want to remind them that the Bible has a good deal to say about those things with great clarity. Yet you soon realize that most of them aren’t as interested in shining too bright a light on themselves, as they are in policing others with selective Scriptures. You learn that to far too many Christians, sin is simply defined as, “the stuff I don’t like that someone else is doing”—and so eventually you just disengage.
I don’t blame you for wanting nothing to do with The Church.
I imagine how hard it must be to walk through the doors of our buildings week after week, feeling out-of-place and unwanted, scanning the lobby for some small, reassuring sign that you are welcome; sitting nervously through the service just knowing you’ll likely once again be lifted up as the easy poster child for perversion and immorality and Godlessness. I’m sure you always fear another unprovoked attack in a place where you are hoping to find refuge. It must be a Herculean undertaking to hear what you hear and see what you see, and to even attempt to make your way to a local church.
And I’m sure that even as you do begin to cautiously build relationships there, you must feel like you can never really share the deepest parts of you, because you know that it will likely mean that you and your family will need to start looking for another church—again.
And most of all I don’t blame you for choosing to pass on this whole Jesus thing—but I hope that you won’t.
You see friend, the worst, most tragic thing that you could ever do in the face of the bullying and insensitivity and bigotry you may have experienced at the hands of some Christians—would be to let it keep you from Christ.
If that happens, then you are allowing their hatred to be louder in your ears than the loving voice of God. You are letting them have a power over you that they do not deserve and are not qualified for. You are allowing them to define your faith when it is not theirs to define.
Because all of the cruelty you are experiencing is simply not of Jesus. He doesn’t consent to any of it. He abhors it and condemns it.
And this is the reason I am still a Christian; because I believe this Jesus is worth the path to him, despite the dangerous land mines along the way, even if those land mines call themselves Christians. Because the truth is; you and me and the radio show host and the crusading politician and the greeter at church and the pastor in the pulpit and the hundreds you might rub shoulders with this Sunday, we all stand fully held by what no person can give to us and no person can withhold from us: the relentless, screw-up covering, destination changing, invasive, annoying love of God. You are already loved as you are, without caveat, condition, or alteration. You have nothing to earn or prove or deserve.
Friend, you could decide to pass on The Church, but both you and it would be the lesser for it. Your gifts and your passions and your experiences have the same power to bless and to lift and to reflect the character of God as anyone’s. Your contribution is as unique, valid, and beautiful as anyone’s are. Never believe differently.
So if you are able, I’m asking you to try again; to stand among hypocrites and sinners like me this Sunday and to keep going. I will gladly stand there beside you.
No, I wouldn’t blame you for walking away from Jesus because you’ve been injured by Christians—but I’m praying that you don’t.