This month, the Church is confronted with a great opportunity as individuals, companies and the LGBTQ community celebrate “Pride Month.”
I was 18 when it was revealed to me that a family member had come out as gay. Shocked, embarrassed, and more concerned with how it might make “me” look, I responded out of anger that looked like hate more than anything else. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I viciously lashed out and actually told this individual I was ashamed of her, that she was no longer my family, and that I never wanted to speak to her again.
Sure, it was a different day and time, but that is no excuse. At the time, same-sex relationships were mostly covert and culturally viewed in a completely different light than they are today. Those who “came out,” at least in the South where I lived, were usually met with a dump truck of condemnation and at the very most a thimble of love and compassion, especially from people like me who were legalistic, judgmental, and filled with self-righteousness.
My actions erected a barrier between us as big as the great wall of China, and I kept it intact for the worse part of the next two years. It lasted until something major happened in my life; I went from a religious person who knew about Christ to a person who had received Him and had Him living in my life. Only then, did I realize how wrong I had been.
I reached out and expressed my regret, apology, and unconditional love. That simple act instantly restored a severed relationship. Of course, we had different opinions and convictions but never again was there any division or separation. I am proud to say we both began to genuinely love and respect one another, and it has continued this way in the decades since.
Regrettably, my original response is often the same that many other professing believers continue to serve on plates of false superiority.
For believers, the non-negotiable template has been given to love others…regardless! We must not forget the example of Christ who commonly showed love, concern, and compassion to people who had fallen into an array of transgressions. Jesus never categorized wrongs but made it clear that each of us has fallen extremely short and are in need of forgiveness and grace.
Why are we so eager to receive mercy yet so unwilling to dispense it to others?
Jesus made it clear it is not our duty to “change” anyone. This alone is the work of God. Our job is to pray for people and recognize EVERY person on earth has worth in the sight of God. It is an undeniable truth that Christ did not come to save “some,” and we would do well to remember the well-known verse that states “God so loved the world.” He did not select some or the religious, righteous, or untainted but the entire world.
We as believers need to stop categorizing the failings of others. Have we dismissed the admonition to first take the plank from our own eyes? Jesus did not treat the thieving tax collector any different than the demon-possessed man or the adulteress woman. He did not berate, condemn or belittle anyone except an occasional religious phony. It is quite possible, maybe even likely, if He were on earth today, that the group He would chastise the most would not be those who had fallen into adultery, same-sex relationships, or fornication, but rather those of us who are busy quoting His words but not living them.
Our call is certainly to speak the truth but NEVER, absolutely never, without love or the recognition that we are also severely stained and not without fault. Jesus said love covers a multitude of faults and is the greatest gift of all. Speaking love alone is not enough; it must be shown through words and deeds, or otherwise it is nothing more than an annoying, empty sound.
During not only this month but every day of the year, this is what I hope we can remember most.
I just hung up the phone with the family member I wrongly judged and mistreated. I wanted to ask her permission to write about the incredible relationship we have shared for countless years. She gladly agreed and told me she couldn’t wait for me to meet her new boyfriend this July – the first guy she has dated in over three decades.
God’s love always wins!