Enough silence. Enough suffering. Enough senseless bigotry and violence. Orlando’s will happen, again and again. What does the larger Christian community have to say in response? The arsenals of mass destruction are protected by the NRA. The denial of full humanity to our brothers and sisters in the LGBT community has sanctioned the extremists of every stripe to legitimized violence against them. The ISIS extremists are simply the worst propagators of oppression and violence. Their war is against life itself, especially against freedom and women, bringers of life. But any who give quarter to hate become their allies.
Hate is the enemy of life. Life is the true purpose of religion. Love is the way to life. So any religion that teaches hate is a lie. Faith teaches us to love, to care, to nurture. Hate teaches destruction, death, and oppression. The choice is very simple and clear. Moses, in his farewell speeches to the people of Israel said to them. “I set before you today life and death. Choose life that you may live long in the land of promise.” To choose life is to choose love.
When Christians are silent about the targeting of violence against the gay community, we become allies of hate and enemies of life. When violence is the answer, where will it end? The Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ came that we may know the end of violence and division, and the upholding of the value of every single person. That message is the message of his church, and any purported Christian who can condone attacks on any of God’s beloved children does not deserve to claim the title. This is not who Christians are, but in the absence of authentic Christian voices, the voices of hate and bigotry grab center stage and bury the Christian witness in a mockery of Christ’s message. Hate goes unopposed. Life suffers.
But, love will win. Because love does, and is, and will, and can, and triumphs and outlasts and defeats, and brings and causes and tries and succeeds. Because love never ends. All these tongues of hate will cease, and words of love will live, because we will speak them, and live them. We must be advocates, vocal advocates for the marginalized and targeted. I don’t care what theological or biblical perspective is your favorite, Life is calling us to her defense, Love is making a demand upon those who claim to know her best in Jesus Christ. We need to show it, speak it, and live it with our actions, words and living, to be the peace we long for. I set before you life and death; choose life, that all may live in the land of promise. I call the entire Christian community repent of our silence and to become vocal defenders and friends of the gay community. If there can be any redemption of the senseless suffering that has come out of Orlando, let it be our resolve that our LGBT brothers and sisters will know they have an ally in all Christ’s people.
Rev. Linda Farmer-Lewis June 16, 2016
Central United Methodist Church, Lansing Michigan