I was so excited this past week when a found a set of serving dishes and platters with multiple-colored stripes at Goodwill. I LOVE stripes. I also loved the absolute miracle of rainbows and the incredible colors that God paints within those.
But as we know, the rainbow has become a sign of the Pride community. Of acceptance, of love no matter what that form takes and recently I learned, to help the Pride community feel safe in businesses, etc. that they visit and support.
I was surprised when one of my conservative Christian friends posted after I placed a picture of the dish set on my Facebook. They basically wanted to know where I fell on the issue. If I buy rainbow-colored dishes, am I accepting of the LGBTQ community?
Well yes, of course I am.
Jesus was, as well.
But is that why I bought the dishes and was so excited about them? No, I just loved the colors and stripes!
I was raised in a very conservative Christian home. I don’t believe that this was all my folks doing-I believe it was an era of our time in the Christian churches, especially in our Evangelical ones. I believe they did the best they did the best they could at the time, with what they were given.
We have LGBTQ folks in our family. One just announced she is marrying her beloved. One said this past summer that she is actively dating women. One has expressed a desire to change a gender and yet a fourth says that he is attracted to both men and women.
I work on groups and committees via my work environment with LGBTQ people and the experience has been eye-opening, and extremely helpful. They once coached me on the proper terms to use with a member in my family in the LGBTQ community (I tend to tongue trip over the “LGBTQ” term and was not sure what new gender term to use with a particular person so I wasn’t being hurtful to them). They were giving, and non-judgmental of my beliefs. We experienced a lot of laughter as I tried to get it right and they were understanding and kind.
Why, oh why, can we not be the same back? No wonder so many of the LGBTQ have been turned away from our Christian churches and communities! We have held them back with a very evident attitude of “Go away, you sinner” when in fact, we ALL have our struggles!
Being Christians has not made us immune-but it has challenged us a bit. After all, “gender dysphoria” has been diagnosed as a mental health condition in the DSM and we also know from studies that many in the LGBTQ community have experienced a great deal of trauma in their lives. But do we tell those with anxiety or other mental health challenges that they are not welcome in our lives, that we don’t love them, that we don’t pray for them? Jesus never did that.
Being a Christian has other challenges too. My husband works with churches in conflict or decision making and as you might expect, some churches and denominations have been struggling with the issue of whether to be “open and affirming” to the LGBTQ community. The issue here should never be “should we welcome them?” Of course we should! Did Jesus not welcome everyone? He ate dinner with those who were evil tax collectors and known prostitutes. He knew their hearts. He knew their trauma. He loved them anyway.
My husband has long brought up the issue of the lovely signs outside of our churches that say, “All are Welcome”. Well, really? ARE they? If Jesus was sitting in our congregation, he would have stood, gone out and pulled them inside with a gentle hug. Just like he would have done with ALL of us- who sin daily, who have mental health issue, who are starving for unconditional love and acceptance.
Those in our alternative communities have instead been turned completely away from churches, and families, from the true HEART of God’s word.
Being Christians in this situation also means that we are held even more responsible for our loving or unloving reactions to these situations. Whether we believe it is a sin or not, that is not the point. Since when did it become up to us to judge? Um, never?! I have sinned with the worst of them. I have fallen off points I never thought I would go. And never has it been anyone else’s jobs to convict me. IF there is need of conviction, that is up to the Holy Spirit only, no one else. (Trust me, it is much more effective for me coming from him, anyway. LOL)
Our job is ONLY to love and pray. For everyone. And their love language (how they feel loved) might be much different than yours, so I encourage you if it is a close friend or family member, to spend some time learning their love language and putting it into practice, even if that is a struggle for you.
So back to those dishes, I revel at the history of rainbows and stripes.
-We know why God made the rainbow initially. But don’t you think with that action that He wasn’t just saying “I won’t ever flood the earth again” but that he was saying “I love you SO much and accept each of you SO much that I will not flood the earth again to harm you?” His rainbow, with its beautiful colors, truly is an indication of how He feels about each one of us. And of course, therefore the Pride movement has chosen this as their welcome sign. Because God put all those colors in there and called us united within a frame of a rainbow.
-There is a reason we sang “Jesus loves the little children, all the children in the world. Red and yellow, black and white, we are precious in his sight” in the early years. We recognized various colors, and it is time to love those too with alternative lifestyles.
– I once heard a wise man say at his daughter’s (47 years old) deathbed, “when it comes down to it and the end of our lives, only two things matter: our relationship with God and our relationship with others.” SO wise and so true. My friends, don’t let it become too late. Life is not a guarantee. Prioritize having an active and loving your relationship with your loved ones (and THEIR loved ones), and let God work out the rest.