I’ve just seen a news article showing the faces of those killed in the Pulse Night Club on Saturday night.
Have you seen it?
Face after face; beautiful, young, LGBT+ people, their eyes full of light and life.
Lives so precious, unique, fragile, sacred.
Each one reflecting the image of their Creator.
Each one a beloved son or daughter. Their loss is a gaping wound, a searing pain, an everlasting ache.
LGBT+ people around the world are feeling the impact of the Orlando shooting deeply. They are mourning the deaths of these people as if they were family, connected somehow by invisible but unbreakable strands.
This is because they know.
They know what it’s like to be despised for who they are.
They have felt the hatred in the cold glances and suspicious stares.
They know how it feels to have disapproval and disgust pushed down upon them like a suffocating pillow.
They have felt the fear of physical attack.
Non-LGBT-affirming Christian, I know you know this.
I know you are outraged by this shooting. I know you feel the anguish and pain of the friends and families and are praying for them.
But when you say that you “love the sinner, hate the sin”, or offer condolences with the qualification that you “don’t agree with homosexuality”, do you realise what you are doing?
You are preventing people from being fully alive.
In trying to save people from their sin, you are oppressing them.
You are marring the image of God.
Sexuality or gender is not something we can separate ourselves from. As human beings, it is a vital, intentional, beautiful part of who we are. And it comes in many, many glorious colours.
Non-LGBT-affirming Christian, can you be absolutely sure that your views are not shaped by a watered-down, far less extreme version of the same prejudice that murdered those fifty people?
Because the Bible teaches far more clearly on divorce and remarriage than it does on homosexuality.
If you accept one, what is stopping you from accepting the other?
I will freely admit, I am still prejudiced. When I see two men kissing, it makes me uncomfortable. This is because it is something I am not used to – I am naturally prejudiced against those who are fundamentally different to me in some way.
I am aware of my prejudice. It is an unsightly smudge on my worldview that I am in the process of scrubbing off.
Just because something makes me feel uncomfortable, doesn’t make it wrong. It makes it different.
We human beings are such wonderfully complex creatures, displaying such an array of colours and intricate patterns as to reflect the glory of the divine.
We are made to love one another, forging relationships and journeying onwards together in peace and joy, reflecting the sacred communal dance of the divine.
We were not made to be forced into boxes.
We were never meant to all be the same.
Non-LGBT-affirming Christian, I know you genuinely believe that being non-affirming is the most loving thing.
But I ask you please to spend some time thinking about the effect your views may be having on people. Maybe even people you know and see regularly.
Maybe you could take time to read some stories of Christians who have attempted to change their sexuality, like Vicky Beeching, Kevin Garcia or Justin Lee, or many others Google will happily share with you. These are the survivors, the lucky ones whose stories didn’t end in suicide.
In the wake of this horrifying tragedy, let us search our hearts and seek to make a better world, for all people.