Just last night I got sucked into a debate regarding restroom rights and how they are impacting the general population and transgender people. I had some valid concerns and was sincerely trying to express them in a straight-forward way, but as usually happens when you post something on Facebook, the discussion took an ugly turn and before long I became frustrated with other people, frustrated that I was being misunderstood and then utterly exhausted by the effort and time it took me to convey…really nothing super important.
And then this morning I tried to take a moment while the kids were occupied to have a quiet time with Jesus and found that I could not concentrate. My mind was so consumed by this Facebook battle of ideological punches and counter-punches that I had forgotten to communicate the primary thing that the Holy Spirit would lead me to communicate: love. This scripture came to mind:
Matthew 5:23, “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First, go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.”
I am not gay or transgender. I have no idea what it must feel like to be bullied, shamed, hated, ridiculed, or marginalized for the complicated issue of sexuality. I am not too proud to acknowledge that it is something that I do not really understand or feel comfortable with, but that has also proved beneficial as it has forced me to consider how I am to engage with the LGTB community as a Believer and Follower of Jesus Christ. I believe in biblical precepts that God has revealed to us in His Word, and balancing my firm convictions with showing genuine love for people who are not like me can be difficult when I try to do it in my own strength. It is only when I am brought low at the feet of Jesus that I can abandon myself to Him, allowing His love to do something through me that no legislation or politician could ever do: change minds, hearts, create growth and understanding.
Here are some things that I know for sure:
All people are “fearfully and wonderfully made,” Psalm 139:14
“There is no one righteous, not even one,” Romans 3:10
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came through Christ Jesus,“ Romans 3:23&24
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus,” Romans 8:38 & 39.
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone…do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good,” Romans 12:21
Romans is a good book, right? See, sometimes as a bold, free American woman who has been told all her life that she can do or say whatever she likes, I forget the truth that “everything is permissible–but not everything is constructive” (1 Corinthians 10:11). The confusion begins when I try to combine my American citizenship with my Heavenly citizenship. I can cast my votes and declare my opinion on various social and political issues, but when the results are not what I would have hoped, I then must choose instead to trust God and do the only thing He has really called me to do–bring glory to Him by showing His love to the world.
I know that I have no right to judge or condemn others. I was a sinner, wandering far from the Lord and bound for destruction before Jesus saved me. The only thing I can boast about is His greatness and the Grace that I did not deserve. And every other person, regardless of their sexuality, race, gender, past, present, future, economic class, social class, is as loved by God as I. His grace is for all and for all time. (Thanks Michael for reminding me of this.) Sometimes we Christians are afraid to speak about God’s radical grace because we believe that it gives people license to sin and live a life that doesn’t reflect God’s righteousness, but those people have underestimated the absolute power of God and the transformation that happens when people have a genuine encounter with Him. Here is another truth:
He is “able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,” Ephesians 3:20. As Christians ministering to a broken world, all we can do is love, pray and then get out of the way and watch God work.
And then be ready to wait, which is tough. Life will go on. One debate will be replaced with another. Issue after issue will rise to the forefront of American and global politics and social relevance. Some of us will do and say great things that the world will applaud, and some of us will do and say brave things that the world will criticize. An action is often only considered worthwhile if it makes the news, and love and kindness rarely get much attention. But God is able to use things such as this to reveal His power and everlasting peace.
So to the LGTB community and to their loved ones, I am extending a truce. I am sorry if I have ever said anything or implied anything hurtful or hateful. It was not and is not my intention. I am not naive–I know that on some positions we will never agree, but that does not mean that we can’t live peacefully. I am not able to love you because I am strong. I am able to love you because God is great. It is my sincere hope that you would know Him too, and find peace in His presence.
“The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life,” Revelation 22:17.