When our opinions no longer matter: LGBT and loving others well

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The internet has pretty much been in an uproar for the last few days over the news about Caitlyn Jenner, previously known as the famous Olympian Bruce Jenner, and her transformation and introduction into the public eye as a woman. I have seen opinions ranging from “YOU GO GIRL! Werk it!” to “Bruce will never be a woman. He is sick and needs serious psychological attention” and everything in between.

We sure like our opinions, don’t we? And more than that, we like to voice our opinions loud and clear for the rest of the world to hear them.

I used to have opinions about people who identified as LGBT. It was actually a topic I felt pretty strongly about. But then I had a friend come out to me for the first time. And I read the story of a young man who was raised an Evangelical Christian and was thrown out of his home when he came out to his parents as gay. And I read from my friend Ben Moberg about what it’s like to be a gay Christian. I learned that 1 out of every 4 kids who identify as transgender will attempt suicide at some point during their lifetime. Although LGBT youth make up only 10% of minors in the U.S., they represent 20% of homeless youth.

LGB youth are 8.4 times more likely to attempt suicide if they come from highly rejecting families.

And when I put faces to those numbers, my sweet friends being thrown out into the streets when they needed love and loyalty the most, changed me.

Those statistics are not okay.

The fact that we choose our opinions over saving livesis not okay.

What are we doing? What the hell are we thinking, that being right matters more than being kind. We are majorly missing the point, friends. If we haven’t figured it out by now, it doesn’t actually matter whether we think it’s right or wrong, because kids are coming out anyway and gender changes are still happening and they’re still going to, regardless of our personal convictions.

Because, while the Bible is gray about sexuality, the Bible has never been gray about love.

Love is not a gray area. There are no exceptions. No one off-limits. And we don’t have to agree with the life choices of someone in order to be their friend. (If you are only friends with people who agree with you, you are missing out on a much richer life.)

I don’t know what you believe, friend. But I hope you can set them aside sometimes to recognize that the world is much bigger than the lens you see it through.

Your opinions will not save you. Only God can do that.

Caitlyn Jenner is brave because she, of all people—a previous Olympian—knows that we don’t know how to accept people who operate outside of the norm. She knew there would be hate and there would be judgment, even from her own family. She chose to make a space for herself anyway. And I deeply respect that.

It’s time to stop the witch hunt, and it’s time to stop whining that we’re so persecuted that we’re actually expected to treat everyone fairly. It’s time to acknowledge that we have not loved others well. It’s time to acknowledge that we are beginners, not experts on this topic, and to start from ground zero and go up from there.

It’s time to listen, and it’s time to humanize those we don’t agree with. Otherwise we are no better.

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14 thoughts on “When our opinions no longer matter: LGBT and loving others well

  1. First, let me say that I agree with your basic premise that Christians should treat LGBT people with love. No thoughtful Christian could dispute that.

    However, treating LGBT people with love does not require that we condone their lifestyle of sin, nor does it impose on us a duty to accept the legal and social agenda of the homosexual. lobby.

    Secondly, your article contains two blatant errors. With respect to the population of LGBT youth, no credible population study puts the number at 10% of the general population. The best studies place the number at 1% to 2%. Bloggers who continue to use the higher, discredited number are either negligent or disingenous.
    And with respect to the Bible’s take on sexuality, there is no ambiguity. All sexual relations outside of a male – female marriage are sin. This is how the Church has understood the New Testament for almost 2000 years, and 20th century “scholars” did not discover some previously unknown truth.
    We must love our neighbor, and we must also be firm in our convictions about sin. And you should be more careful with your assertions.

    • If you clicked on the link I referenced with that statistic, you would see that the National Coalition for the Homeless was my reference and they are a legitimate organization.
      I would consider myself very careful with my assertions—in fact, I made very few. The point is that our opinions are infinitely less important than making others feel loved enough to not commit suicide. I hope what I wrote encouraged you to see that speaking the truth without love is literally pushing people to end their lives.

    • Well said. We all fall short of the glory of God. It is our choice as to how we live out our life. Bible literate Christians can see There is no ambiguity regarding the sexual relations between men and women. There is also no ambiguity regarding how we should treat each other as fellow children of God. To split these is where acceptance of what God says is Sin starts to come in.

  2. Thanks so much for this, Hannah! As a follow-up to your encouragement to “acknowledge that we are beginners, not experts on this topic, and to start from ground zero and go up from there,” I wonder if I could offer some advice that I’ve found helpful. I used to be quite homophobic (though I wouldn’t have phrased it as such; I would have said I was just following the Bible), and the turning point for me came when I got to know some wonderful people as friends, and then learned that they were gay. It seems silly in hindsight, but I was so conflicted — they were gay! But they were also great people! But they were gay! But they were friendly and funny and respectful! But they were gay! I’d had a very monolithic, stereotypical idea about gay people before that, and I literally didn’t know how to reconcile these people’s sexuality with their personalities, achievements, talents, and ambitions — at least at first. They were so patient with me as I wrestled with this. Several years later, I’m so humbled to say that my life has been vastly enriched by my friendships with people in the LGBTQIA community. They’re not a faceless monolith of sin in my eyes anymore; they’re human beings, with valid feelings and opinions and rights.

    I see my old mindset reflected in so many commentaries on sexuality — like people are nothing more than their orientation or gender identity, and can be summarily dismissed based on that. So here’s my advice to the people who, like my former self, don’t feel like they can look past people’s sexuality: Concentrate on getting to know them as people. Listen to (or read about) their stories, hopes, and fears. Try to see the world from their perspective. I know firsthand how difficult it can be to set aside the cultural mindsets and expectations we’ve cultivated since birth, but I promise it will be worth it. The Old Testament prophets tell us that lending an ear to marginalized and oppressed people is always worth it. In light of these devastating statistics about LGBTQIA youth, I feel like the promise laid out in Psalm 12:5 is especially powerful: “‘Because of the devastation of the afflicted, because of the groaning of the needy, now I will arise,’ says the Lord; ‘I will set him in the safety for which he longs.'”

  3. You have heard it said, “sin is sin”… I’m not so sure that this is acurate or backed up by the Truth. I do think though that adultry and fornication are in the same sin camp, if you will, as homosexuality…. perhaps!
    Even there, I think that the co-creative responsibility that Father God has given mankind, where a man and a woman have the privlege of duplicating themselves in a living being, is disregarded and dare I say trampled on, when two people of the same gender “come together”.

    So to say Hannah, that the Bible is gray in the area of sexuality is a wrong assertion.

    • I’m not sure theologians agree on the issues of homosexuality and transgender identity in the Bible in the way you think they do. I would argue that since those things are not assumptions we can make about the Bible, they are automatically shades of gray.

  4. “What are we doing? What the hell are we thinking, that being right matters more than being kind. We are majorly missing the point, friends. If we haven’t figured it out by now, it doesn’t actually matter whether we think it’s right or wrong, because kids are coming out anyway and gender changes are still happening and they’re still going to, regardless of our personal convictions.

    “Because, while the Bible is gray about sexuality, the Bible has never been gray about love.”

    There are some great points here: being right does not and should not matter more than being kind! We, as Christians, are called to love people. We are all flawed and in need of grace and love.
    There are some issues with some of your claims, however. There is a difference between moral absolutes (black and white, truth and lies, good and evil, right and wrong) and personal convictions. For example, is it harmful to see a rated-R movie. Some would have the personal conviction that it is wrong while others would not have that conviction. There are activities and choices that fall under personal conviction, and there are rather different activities and choices that fall under right or wrong (good or evil, righteous or sinful). The Bible is not gray about sexual immoralities (this includes the teenage boy sleeping with his girlfriend while unmarried to her as much as it goes to homosexuality). Acting on our sexual desires (regardless of which gender that involves) is damaging to our souls and our bodies (as the Bible states that sexual sin is the only sin that harms our own bodies). I am curious? Are you as proud of the heterosexual people’s sexual sins (adultery, sex before marriage, pornography, etc.) as you are of Caitlyn/Bruce Jenner?
    Please don’t mistake these concerns and questions to mean that I missed the whole point of what you were trying to convey. I agree, we need to love people where they are at much better. We need to stop rejecting people for their differences! But how is rooting them on into more sin and pain and confusion the best way, or Christian way, to love people? Wouldn’t it be better to love them and treat them the same as the teenage girls we encourage to do sex God’s way (in a heterosexual marriage or celibacy)?
    The Bible is not gray about sexuality.
    The Bible is not gray about love.
    Let’s love people no matter where they’re at on the spectrum of sexuality.
    Let’s remind people that they are made in the image of God and don’t have to be enslaved to their desires.
    Let’s point people to Jesus when they are overwhelmed by their struggles, not to the “church” because it’s gotten it wrong and has cared more about being right than being kind, and not to the “world” because it’s broken and just wants to kindly hear that it’s okay to be wrong.

    • Bingo. Loving people is SO crucial. Hannah, you’re absolutely right, folks who throw their gay children out on to the streets are practicing something that I could never consider Christianity. Defined as being a Christ follower, plain and simple, Christianity is far less about dogma and doctrinal minutae (though important in many ways, your eternal salvation is not one of them) and far more about following the example of our Lord. My issue here is that I hear only acceptance in the brand of love you say we ought to be doling out. We must look at Christ’s example only, not at the example our hearts may feel is right. After all, it is your opinion that our opinions about what is right and wrong ought to take a back seat to the vague “loving” of these disenfranchised individuals. I would assume that you believe your opinion is correct, otherwise you would not be blogging about it. Shouting it from the rooftops, so to speak. The scriptures make it clear that your recommended brand of loving stops short of being full and holy love. Is your personal view of the right thing to do in this situation more important than the biblical example of loving a sinner? See what I’m getting at? Christ set a clear two step example for us. With every sinner he encountered he befriended them, accepted them, spent time with them, knew them as people, forgave them, even HEALED them first. He never once stopped there. Step two was an admonishment: go and sin no more. We are letting down the LGBT community as our fellow precious human beings when we stop at step one. We are letting down the LGBT community as our fellow precious human beings when we kick them out of our homes and churches, when we condemn them and abuse them and ostracize them and vilify them and DEHUMANIZE them. Both tactics are devastating. Yes, we see that so many transgendered people are killing themselves. But statistics can be deceiving. Were you aware that the majority of those aforementioned suicides occur after gender reassignment? And while these folks may be experiencing the pocketed bullying or ostracization of some of their peers, I don’t think we can make the argument anymore that our culture is anti-LGBT. They are not facing widespread discrimination. They are celebrated and lauded as heroes and role-models, and yet it seems that even achieving their dream of becoming the opposite gender (which, tangentially, confuses me in the first place because I’ve been told for a decade and a half that gender is a false construct and a man can look, dress, and participate in traditionally “feminine” fashion or behavior and still call himself a man….but I digress) does nothing to assuage whatever dissatisfaction or inferiority that resides deep inside their soul. We as Christians have a responsibility to love these people as Christ loved them and to show them what Christ showed them, namely himself. This pathetic (and I mean that in the purest sense) brand of love that aims to never make anyone feel anything negative or uncomfortable is just as evil and damaging as kicking your own children out of your house, and JUST as un-Christlike.

  5. Hannah you say the Bible is gray about sexuality. If so then how do you answer these verses? Can you show me where this gray area is?

    Leviticus 18:22 – ” “‘Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.”

    Leviticus 20:13 also says “If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.”

    1 Corinthians 6:9 – ”Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men.”

    1 Timothy 1:10 – “for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine”

    Romans 1:27 – “In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.”

  6. Great blog Hannah. I’m sorry you’ve had so many comments here basically disagreeing with what you’ve said. Talk about adventures in missing the point!
    I personally think God has better more concerning things for us to concern ourselves with than what people do with their genitals and who we are attracted to.
    It also amuses me that people feel they must continue to play the role of God in a gay persons life. You’re a sinner! You big sinner! Stop being gay. Oh wait you can’t stop being something you are, so you can’t have any kind of sex because you can’t get married either! Bury it! We hate it! It’s so gross to us! You’re gross.
    On second thought I don’t think I can do this love gay people thing it’s to hard and complicated.

    Love people. The end. And if God can talk someone out of being gay it’s still not your job.
    Thanks all you gay hating homophobes.
    Ps
    You lose.

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