I am frustrated.
I am frustrated because my younger sister, K, texted me this morning explaining that this week at church, her youth pastor is talking about “homosexuals and transgenders.”
I am frustrated because K felt the need to construct a list of “comebacks” to speak up with when she (inevitably and justifiably) gets offended.
I am frustrated that my 14 year old sister is having to stand up for other people’s rights and freedoms in her church (of all places).
But, I am also incredibly proud. I am proud that I have an open-minded, headstrong, loving sister who chooses to put the needs of others first, and stands up for those who are persecuted, judged, and put down.
I am proud that she realized, at such a young age, that she can be both a Christian AND an advocate for the LGBTQ community.
I am proud that she understands one of God’s greatest commandments to “love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:31)
It pains me to see that church, a place that is supposed to be a safe haven, a place to feel loved, and accepted, a place of peace, has become a battleground against certain groups of people – in this case anyone with a different sexual orientation.
When did we, as followers of Jesus, step away from his greatest commandment? When did it become acceptable to start adding caveats to scripture? Love your neighbor as yourself – as long as your neighbor is exactly like you? Love your neighbor as yourself – as long as your neighbor isn’t gay…isn’t transgendered…isn’t Muslim…isn’t pro-choice…isn’t a Democrat. NO. The period comes after yourself – no caveats.
How are we to love our neighbors as ourselves if our neighbors don’t share the same rights and freedoms as us? How are we to love our neighbors as ourselves if we are busy judging our neighbors for their differences? The short answer – we can’t!
In order to love our neighbors as ourselves, we have to step back, stop judging, stop persecuting, and stop shaming. What we have to do is simple – LOVE. That’s it. Not love and tell how someone is wrong. Not love and tell someone to stop living a particular way. Just love – no strings attached.
For my sister (as well as the rest of my family), this is a personal issue. One that still sparks many arguments at holiday dinners with certain sides of our family. One that made us all feel pushed away by our church growing up. But also one that taught us to learn and grow into the individuals we are today. One that taught us that we can be Christians AND love our dads. One that taught us we can be Christians AND believe that homosexuality isn’t a sin. One that taught us we can be Christians AND believe that everyone – heterosexual, homosexual, asexual, transgendered, and everyone else in and out of the LGBTQ community – deserves the same rights, happiness, acceptance, love, and peace.