I’ve been reading various scientific studies being brought forth by researchers who conclude that there’s no differentiation between gender identity and sexual orientation; or who believe that allowing transgender youth to use their bathrooms of choice would harm other youth; or that predators would lie about their identity and pretend to be transgender to access vulnerable people groups.
Here is a short list (it’s by no means exhaustive)…
I disagree with the science presented here, and the opinions being presented as methodologies and researched facts. But as I was reading these articles and papers, I was struck by something:
Even if we’re 100% correct in all of our research about LGBTQ+ people choosing sexual orientations; even if we’re 100% accurate in predicting a reality where predators will assault girls in the bathroom under the pretense of being transgender women; even if we’re 100% spot-on about chromosomes, cultural influences, and brain/body structuring…
…it means nothing if we don’t love or care for LGBTQ+ people.
And by “love” I mean desiring to be in committed relationships with our LGBTQ+ family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. No intention to convert, prove wrong, or convince; we enter into relationship because love compels us.
We could be 100% right on all counts; but the way we’re presenting our findings to the world are doing nothing but fuel wounds, sorrow, shame and despair living within so many LGBTQ+ people, their families and friends.
Being right or correct or credible in science has its place. But proving to the world our right-ness means nothing right now. We are gongs. We are cymbals. We are causing damage by insisting we prove our right-ness, but instead of making friends or family, we’re continuing to destroy others.
For Christians at this point, it doesn’t matter if “the other side” uses science or not; it doesn’t matter if it uses politics or not; it doesn’t matter if it uses media or not. The strategy of the Other is irrelevant at the moment.
If we don’t choose to desire to be in deep, loving relationships with LGBTQ+ people, we have already lost. No amount of correct science, politics, or media will heal the wounds we have caused. Unless we relinquish our grip on being right and factual, we will never see reconciliation between 21rst century evangelical/conservative North American Christianity and LGBTQ+ people.
We are at a tipping point: what path will we choose?
No amount of sharing research papers on Facebook will amount to anything if we aren’t willing to share a latte at Starbucks with the gay parents next door. Relationships don’t work that way. Preach from the pulpit all you want about the abominations that LGBTQ+ are or how sexual perversion is out to destroy the family if you must, but you still know nothing of LGBTQ+ people.
That will never replace you stepping away from the pulpit and walking into eateries or book shops or neighborhoods where LGBTQ+ hang out, share meals, or share lives. If you claim to know an LGBTQ+ person, but that knowledge is basically realizing the janitor in your office building is gay, you do NOT know that person.
Until we choose to be in community with the people we’re decrying, no amount of scientific data (credible or not-so-credible) will mean anything. We need to look to the damage we’ve caused and begin to reach out in postures of humility and desire. Love, as they say, moves mountains. If we claim to be a people of love — Love Incarnate — we will seek out those whom we have harmed, knowingly or unknowingly, and begin to live in an Age of Reconciliation.
Until we choose this path, all of our proofs will only push the dagger in deeper.
**2017 Edit: I thought it would be wise to share this post again in light of Justin Trudeau’s federal government’s apology to the LGBTQ+ community today. Focusing on the persecution of LGBTQ+ people during the Gay Purge, PM Trudeau and other government MPs offered their apologies to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender/two-spirited, queer, intersex, and gender non-conforming people.
Do federal apologies make a difference?
I suppose that would depend on who you ask. I, myself, confess to suspicion over the depth and belief in these apologies. But I also recognize the horrendous need for all Canadians to learn and understand and accept the darker parts of our history. And for those who were directly impacted by intimidation, violence, persecution, shame, suffering, job loss, and names placed on sex offenders’ lists, perhaps a federal-wide apology is a stepping stone in the long, arduous work of bridge-building.
Still, the thrust of my post remains: even if we, as varied Christians, disagree with all the government said today or have all the reasons in the world to justify conversion therapy, condemning LGBTQ+ people, or putting doctrine ahead of people, but still do not have love…we are nothing. We continue the cycle of violence. We are the oppressors.
Christians are crying for religious freedom in Canada. Yet we continually refuse to speak out on behalf of already persecuted groups. Yet when North American Christianity feels threatened, we turn to the very groups we are dehumanizing and demand support.
The violence spoken about today may have been state-sanctioned, but the church stood by and supported the efforts. Labelling LBGTQ+ as pedophiles and dangerous fit will into growing fundamentalist doctrine.
This is not love.
Love is desiring the Other, if such an Other exists. Love is in accepting our roles in hurting and destroying the Other. Love is submitting to the Other without expectation of mutual response. Love is hearing the narratives, and learning the lives of neighbours, co-workers, and family members.
For when we begin to learn the lives and stories of the people around us, doctrine begins to diminish and love wins.