Titus 2:11-14 New International Version (NIV)
For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purifyfor himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
This was today’s Scripture reading and sermon at church. And it got me thinking about how I might apply this message towards reaching out to the LGBT community and advocating for building that relationship between LGBT identity and faith.
It is very difficult for many in the LGBT community to trust the faith community when it seems quite obvious that many in the faith community reject or condemn or judge harshly homosexuals, bisexuals, and transgender individuals. Many in the LGBT community would probably readily admit they would rather go to a dentist for a root canal or visit a city landfill than walk into a church where they would likely be harassed, thrown out, or condemned or cruelly stared at and made to feel unwelcome, unwanted, and unloved.
Verse 11 here in Paul’s letter to Titus spells out clearly that the grace of God and salvation is offered to all people! All people! Not some, not just a few or a certain select group of people, but to all people. That being said, God’s grace comes with instruction for all people too, not just homosexuals and bisexuals and transgender people. One might thing this passage condemns the LGBT community, but not so!
God is a God of love! Godliness is to express love openly, honestly, sincerely, and with the loved one’s well-being and mental, physical, and emotional health in mind. God is trying to encourage us to love and build relationships so we can all be one unified church or body of humanity. We are encouraged to think of greater things than money, personal wealth, power, and worldly things that tend to come and go according to whim. There are bigger things and greater things to latch on to– like compassion, love, the greater sense of brotherhood and sisterhood, the joy and bliss of eternal life with our Creator.
We are encouraged to be self-controlled and disciplined. We are encouraged not to give in to temptations and addictions and uncontrollable passions. We are asked to see the world and appreciate it with sober eyes and clear minds. We are not to have our judgment clouded by our personal biases and preferences but to be more open-minded, more objective, and more open-hearted.
This passage also reminds me at least that Jesus ultimate redeems us all and purifies us all. The presence of Jesus and his examples for us seem to naturally guide us to want to be good people doing good works for each other.
The Holy Spirit moves through us, Jesus guides us and teaches us, and God will hold us accountable for our thoughts, words, and deeds. No one is exempt from the Holy Spirit’s reach or excluded from the table that Jesus has set before us. And obviously no one is exempt from God’s influence on our lives. If churches realized this, they would be more open and affirming and recognize that the LGBT community is just as deserving of God’s love and grace as anyone else.