“You’re a Christian! How can you support LGBTQ people and gay marriage? Don’t you realize you are condoning sin? You are leading people into hell!”
This is Rob Cottrell, Susan’s husband, and I have heard it all! Multiple times a day from strangers. Frequently from people who claim to be friends. And more than I ever thought possible from close family members.
When we came out as parents of an LGBTQ child, and then as fierce allies and advocates, I was pretty defensive.
More than 25 years in the evangelical church had engrained in me certain beliefs about homosexuality. To be honest, beliefs which I never really looked into. I was just running a program.
So, when the attacks and challenges and questions came, I felt like I needed to ‘defend’ my position.
My heart knew that unconditional love and radical inclusion was the very heart of the Gospel. But I needed to reconcile with the things I had heard on Sunday mornings.
So I didn’t just read the printed words of whatever Bible translation was my personal favorite. I actually looked into the passages… the context – the motivation of the author, the audience – the original language, and much more.
And my eyes were opened. “I was blind but now I see.”
I discovered the heart of the Gospel, the heart of God, and the truth of the life and teachings of Jesus.
I discovered that unconditional love, acceptance and support for LGBTQ people does not conflict with my faith in any way. Actually, it is consistent my faith.
I am fully accepting and affirming of LGBTQ BECAUSE of my faith, not in spite of it.
And something else happened.
I realized that I am not the one who needs to defend my position!
For most people who are not affirming, it has nothing to do with God or the Bible. I understand that they are just running a program.
I am not going to try to reason people out of a position they did not reason themselves into.
I am no longer going to defend or explain my support for, or acceptance and affirmation of the LGBTQ community and marriage equality. I am going to love and embrace. I am going to do what Scripture says God requires of me… do justice, love kindness, walk humbly. (Micah 6:8)
I take my Bible seriously. I look at it through the lens of love, the overall message of the Gospel.
And you know what…
You have the right to believe something different. But if you do not welcome and embrace those who just happen to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning to attend, serve and be members in your church, if you do not support full marriage equality, if you do not oppose discriminatory legislation, if you do not love without condition – it is you who needs to defend your beliefs.
Because you are the one judging, you are the one deciding who does and does not get welcomed and affirmed, you are the one deciding who deserves to be treated equally and fairly.
And the last time I checked, God was not hiring.
The consequences of this includes misrepresenting the heart of God, pushing people away from Jesus, and rejecting, condemning and shaming your fellow human beings – even ending in killing and other tragedies like youth homelessness, drug abuse and suicide.
From my heart to yours… There is a freedom, love, joy and relationship with God available to you, more glorious than you can ever imagine. Just open your box, open your heart… and listen. 🙂
But I am just not going to defend my position anymore.
I am following Jesus. I will love how he loves. I will love who he loves.
I am being obedient to my faith.
I will unconditionally love, because I have been unconditionally loved.
I will radically include, because I have been radically included.
Will you join me, and trust God with the rest?
– Rob Cottrell
We have programs for parents of LGBTQ children, and for those who are LGBTQ. We help free hearts to love, heal and affirm. Private online support groups, books, resources and our new FreedHearts Online comprehensive video courses for parents, and also for LGBTQ! If you would like more information, please click here.