In the first epistle of Peter, in the second chapter of his letter to the early Christian churches of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia he provides this nugget of wisdom and instruction:
“For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men– as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice but as bondservants of God. Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.” — New King James Version
As I see it, it is by our actions– not our appearances–that we should be judged. It is by or character and what is in our hearts that God, our highest authority, will judge our merits and value. And if ours is an all-loving God, he will judge us according to what is in our hearts and judge us by our truest expressions of self.
And it is important to note that whatever myths or misconceptions there may be about the LGBT community or any community that is marginalized or in a minority treated with suspicion and disgust or distrust, it is our actions and character that can be the most effective weapon against prejudice and ignorance. When the rest of the world can see just how much good we can provide and do for others– when they can see we have as much respect and compassion for our fellow human beings as anyone else– when they can see that we have as much invested in our communities and families and country and churches as anyone else, the ignorant may hopefully have their hearts as well as their eyes opened to the truth that we are no worse or better than anyone else and are worthy of at least as much respect as they are.
I am also caught by the verse, “as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice….”. The verse brings to mind current events where it seems trendy usage of these often used but misapplied and misunderstood phrases or buzzwords “freedom of religion” or “defense of religion” have been used to justify the passage of legislation that prohibits LGBT equal rights. Religion has never been threatened. The rights of people to have places of worship, conduct religious services, conduct churches as institutions separate from government and political institutions, and the freedom to express your religious views in public and private forum has always been in place and will remain in place so long as the U.S. Constitution remains. Are there limits to this freedom? Yes. Should there be? Yes.
Schools that are funded by the government– public schools, for example, cannot administrate religious education or impose prayer in the classroom. State, local, and federal governments cannot impose religious beliefs. Government cannot be perceived to show favoritism towards any one religious institution or belief system over another. Students however, can lead prayer. Students can organize for themselves religious groups and clubs and Bible studies– so long as they are student-led and not administered by a teacher or principal who receives compensation from the state or local government. That is the separation of church and state. But nowhere in the law does it say that it is illegal for a student to pray in school before classes, before lunch, or at any other time the student wishes.
Freedom of Religion does not give religion the right to impose their views and beliefs on others who do not share their beliefs or theology. Freedom of Religion does not grant anyone the right to inflict violence or harm on another human being who has the natural right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of their own well-being. Freedom of Religion is not a ticket to commit acts of violence or murder.
If your religion for whatever reason or justification is teaching you to hate your gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender neighbor– then perhaps you need to re-evaluate your religion. You cannot have an all-loving God that loves some people but not all people… or some of His creations but not all His creations. If God didn’t love us or want us, why then create us? If our all-knowing God knows our hearts and souls and minds from the moment of our conception, and found issue with us and felt we were abominations– why then allow us to be born only to be condemned and made targets for stoning? What would be the point of existence? Is God in the habit of producing human fodder? If God is all-knowing, and knows us intimately, then He knows what we are capable of and where our hearts and loyalties lie. He knows what is in us that is capable of change and what it fixed and set. He knows our natures and our very being.
If it was any other way, we as LGBT persons of faith, just might love God more than God loves us! We can love God as true persons of faith. What does God lose if we remain true to ourselves? Nothing. He gains disciples and loses nothing. If God cannot accept us unless we somehow change or convert ourselves to conform to some heterosexual, gender rigid standard and yet we are expected to love Him though we may expect to be stoned or condemned or punished eternally if we fail to conform… why would any reasonable LGBT person want to love a God that demands that we fundamentally deny our own souls?
It makes no rational, logical sense. What is it about the LGBT soul that could possibly threaten or undermine an All-Powerful, All-Knowing, All-Loving God? His victory in heaven is assured! Satan has already lost according to the Revelation. God has every means in His disposal to get exactly what He wants.
Here we are. We exist. God gave us brains and hearts and the capacity to know and to question and to understand and to express and communicate. And we are learning, questioning, coming to understand and express. We are loving with our hearts. We are doing what God created us to do with what He gave us!