Eventually, You Have to Say Something
In the aftermath of the horror in Orlando, I was dumbfounded. I am still dumbfounded. There are simply no words that can fully encompass the tragedy of this moment.
Forty-nine people died on Sunday morning, Fifty-three more were wounded. Hundreds will bear the scars of that moment for the rest of their lives on their bodies and in their minds. Families will never see their loved ones again, some of whom never actually knew their loved ones authentically because of fear of judgement, disapproval, and abandonment.
Those among the dead are part of a community that to this day remains on the margin of society because they identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, or questioning. They are dead not because they harmed another, but in fact because they dared to love. They dared to love themselves, even for a moment. Pulse was the place where LGBTQ men and women went to embrace their identity, to stop pretending they fit the molds of societal norms, to celebrate the gift of life, to be free to love and to be loved for who they are because God knows they have not received love from the Church.
For too long, we have used the bible as a curtain to hide our cowardice, and to justify our willful ignorance. And while we have been spewing condemnation from our pulpits and pews in the form of niceties, platitudes, and silent complicity, the gospel has continued to break us open one by one to recklessly love those whom we hate, those whom society deems unworthy of our love. To do anything less than embrace the radical inclusivity with which Jesus makes us so uncomfortable is simply not gospel living. The gospel is good news for the poor, and freedom for the oppressed (Luke 4:18) not comfort and happiness for the hetero-normative.
We in the ELCA are taught to encourage the "profound respect of the conscience-bound belief of the neighbor"1 regarding the various interpretations of scripture and their implications on the LGBTQ community. Well, I have to admit that I have arrived at a place where I believe this is a cop out to retain the members of our church who continue to view and to name LGBTQ men and women as sinner and not saint. This clause not only allows but condones and perpetuates attitudes that further marginalize LGBTQ persons and renders the Church in discord with the radical inclusivity of Jesus Christ evident in the canonical gospels and the undisputed epistles2 of the apostle Paul. We must remove the plank from our own eye before we can remove the speck out of another's. I think that's in the bible somewhere, too... ah yes, Matthew 7:5.
We in the Church have blood on our hands. The time has come and gone to simply ask for forgiveness from the LGBTQ community. It is time to die with them. It is time to abandon our dogmatic pretension in order to love and embrace God's children with all our might. It is time to lie with them in the pool of Christ's blood poured out on the floors of Pulse.
In the aftermath of the horror in Orlando, I was dumbfounded. I am still dumbfounded, but in the midst of this silence is the resounding pulse of the heart of humanity. Christ came into this world so that we may have life and have it abundantly. Do not be fooled, abundant life is not possible without our LGBTQ brothers and sisters.
Disclaimer: All opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and not necessarily those of the community of St. Luke's Church on the Avenue.
1 A Social Statement on Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust, p.21
2 The letters of Paul, whose authorship is believed to be authentic among scholarly sources. They are: 1Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philemon, Phillipians, Romans