I know that many of you are not only hurting today, you are also angry. And your anger is not just directed at the Muslim terrorist who slaughtered so many of your people. You are also angry at Christians like me, believing that we have helped to create the toxic, hateful atmosphere that led to the horrific massacre.
A gay activist in Charlotte, North Carolina with whom I've shared meals and interacted many times, expressed his anger towards what he called the "sanctimonious bulls—t" of conservative Christian leaders, saying, "You helped cause this massacre. Your anti-LGBTQ theology assisted in helping others, including the Orlando shooter, in seeing each of our precious LGBTQ lives as dispensable and worthy of death. . . . F--k your prayers and your chaplains. How 'bout you stop your anti-queer theology that supports our death and despair, huh?"
In your eyes, people like me are hateful bigots, not recognizing the validity of your marriages, not recognizing the depth of your relationships, not recognizing the beauty of your families.
And when we say that homosexual practice is sinful in God's sight, you feel that we are branding you as inferior human beings, virtually damning you to hell for who you are and for who you perceive yourselves to be from the womb.
Some of you have called us CINO's (Christians In Name Only), reminding us that Paul taught that love does no harm to its neighbor (see Romans 13:10) and claiming that we are doing you irreparable harm and damage when we tell you that God has a better way, that it's wrong for you to engage in same-sex relationships, and that, with God's help, it can be possible to change from gay to straight.
Many of you hear those words as anything but loving, to put it mildly.
As one woman posted on my Facebook page yesterday, "I blame YOU and people like you for the tragedy in Orlando. As of now, 50 people are dead, 53 injured, including at least one police officer, due to homophobia. And you, and your ilk spreading your messages of hate daily directly contribute to senseless tragedies like this. . . . SHAME ON YOU!"
In reality, if people truly listened to my message (or that of my colleagues), it would never dawn on them for a split second to attack you or try to harm you, and as I've said many times publicly, if someone tried to do you harm and I was present, they would have to get by me.
My friends and co-workers feel this way as well: As Jesus laid down his life for us, we are called to lay down our lives for others.
You might say in response, "Brown, you just don't get it. Your words hurt us deeply and your political stances do violence to us. You're no better than a mass murderer."
I say to you in response, "Then forget about me or other Christian leaders and in your moment of intense pain and anger, look to Jesus."
Jesus said, "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (Matt. 11:28-30).
Jesus said, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst" (John 6:35).
Jesus said, "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep" (John 10:11).
Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6).
And Jesus said, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it" (Mark 8:34-35).
It is Jesus, not religion, that you need.
Maybe you were raised in the church and have issues with "organized religion."
Maybe you have been hurt by professing Christians or believe that we're all hypocrites.
I can tell you that Jesus will never hurt you and that Jesus is not a hypocrite, and if you will call out to him from the depth of your pain and despair and ask him to save you and forgive you, he will, just as he forgave and saved me in 1971 when I was a heroin-shooting, LSD-using, 16-year-old, Jewish, hippie rock drummer. And he has never failed me since then.
You ask, "But are you telling me that I'm supposed to be stop being gay? Is that your message?"
My message is that we are all sinners in need of God's mercy and transformation, and you can pray what all of us prayed: "God, I confess to you that I'm a sinner in need of forgiveness, and I cry out to you to forgive me and give me a brand new life."
Then put your entire life into his hands — your past, present, and future; your hopes, dreams, and pains; your sexuality and your desires — and say, "Jesus, I want you to be the Lord of my life, I believe you died for my sins and rose from the dead, and wherever you lead, I will follow you."
Call out to him today from the depths of your heart, and he will hear your cry.
Then begin to talk with him daily in prayer and read the Scriptures on a regular basis to discover God's will for your life, and do your best to connect with other followers of Jesus who seek to live by his teachings.
It is true that he calls for the complete surrender of our lives to him, but when we take the plunge, holding nothing back, we discover the very meaning of life itself.
If I can be of any help to you on your journey, please let me know. As much as you may perceive me as an enemy, I am praying for God's very best for your life.