I’m a listener. I do not like to speak too quickly. Call it wisdom. Call it caution. Call it what you will. It’s the way God made me.
I’ve been listening over the past three days. I’ve been mourning. I’ve been angry. I’ve been numb. But I’ve been listening.
I’ve been listening to my LGBTQ friends. I’ve been reading their posts and the articles they’ve shared. Friends, I’ve been listening, and I’ve heard you.
When news of the Orlando Massacre began to come out and I became aware of it Sunday afternoon, I wanted to say something. But I also did not want to seem like an opportunist capitalizing on a horrible tragedy. I am cognizant that as a straight white Christian man that I didn’t necessarily have an invitation to speak. I didn’t want this to be about me, because it’s not. It’s about the dead. It’s about the injured. It’s about their families. And it’s about every LGBTQ person in this country who lives in a constant state of fear.
But I’ve heard the voices of my friends. And they need their straight allies to speak.
So today, while I’m still listening, I’m now speaking.
Here’s what I have to say.
LGBTQ friends, I mourn with you. I am angry with you. I love you.
I acknowledge that this massacre was an act of hatred against LGBTQ persons. I utterly condemn all acts of violence against LGBTQ persons who are targeted for being Gay. I condemn bullying LGBTQ people. I condemn making fun of LGBTQ people. I condemn shunning and shaming LGBTQ people.
There are not many safe places for LGBTQ people to feel free to be who they really are without fear. That club was such a space. That was attacked and that safety shattered. It saddens me to know that LGBTQ people truly do not have any safe places now.
I hope the church can be a place of safety for you. A place where you don’t have to be afraid. A place where you don’t have to be on your guard. A place where you can be you. That’s what I hope, but I know that realizing that hope will be messy. It won’t be easy. But I truly hope that for you and for us, because we need you.
I realize that for many of you the church has been anything but safe. I realize that the last place many of you would go for safety would be a church. I also realize that there are many of you already in the church who love the Lord and are afraid of opening up to the church because you don’t know what will happen. I lament all of this. I repent of the ways I have contributed to it.
So, for Christian people reading this, we have a job to do. Let us affirm what scripture clearly teaches us to affirm about this tragedy. All people are made in God’s image. God loves every person that he has made. Do not murder is one of the top ten rules on God’s list. Bullying, attacking, mocking, shunning and shaming are all lesser forms of murder. Jesus was not afraid to enter into all kinds of places and love people for who they are. Jesus accepted people that society shunned, shamed, mocked, and stoned to death.
So let us weep with those who weep. Let us condemn violence against LGBTQ persons. Let us not mix in our moral or theological opinions during this time. Let us not talk about gun rights (on either side) during this time. Let us refrain from defending ourselves during this time. Let us simply grieve, love, listen, pray, and serve.
What are some ways to serve? You can donate blood to a local blood bank. You can donate time or money to a local charity that serves at risk youth that have been made homeless because they are Gay. You can be a compassionate voice in defense of those who are suffering injustice. You can listen and learn from your LGBTQ friends. Trust me, you have some.
Pray for those friends and for all LGBTQ people. Pray for their safety. Pray for their comfort and healing in this time. Pray for the families of the dead. Pray for the healing of those survivors.
LGBTQ friends, God loves you, he doesn’t hate you. He made you in his own image. You were fearfully and wonderfully crafted by Him.
Jesus weeps at this tragedy. This is not the way things were made to be in this world.
Come, Lord Jesus.