Emily Joy, spoken word poet and Moody Bible Institute graduate, has released a powerful work that I believe everyone needs to watch. It’s hard enough to be an LGBTQ+ person in our world; it’s hard enough to be a straight ally, friend or family member; it’s hard enough being a teacher or social worker and watching LGBTQ+ kids and allies being shunned and bullied and having little recourse to voice these injustices.
Add faith to the mix and the powder keg goes nuclear.
Emily’s words were both lemon juice and a balm. Truth and a release together.
LGBTQ+ people, especially LGBTQ+ people of faith (people more likely to have other people of faith already mingling in their close circles) are hard-pressed to worship Christ freely without any one or more of these “hate the sin/love the sinner”responses given out liberally in the name of love.
Number 3 hit the hardest. I’m a shy introvert, so going for coffee with someone is a huge deal. It takes a lot of courage on my best day; and if I’m genuinely curious about the person who’s invited me, there’s definitely a measure of excitement. Going for coffee, after all, can cure many pounds of loneliness. I don’t go out a lot, but when I do… it’s going to be a life changing event.
Imagine my astonishment when the invite was never about me, never about wanting to be friends with me, never about getting to know me, or never about inviting me into their lives. It was about pointing out my sin (in the name of love), my identity as an aberration or a monster towards God (in the name of love), and how I was responsible for duping other people to sin (in the name of love). Different churches, different communities, different people, but the same message: you are lovable when you repent of being hideous.
I am very careful about the company I keep when going out for coffee now.
For some, it didn’t matter if I was LGBTQ+ or not. Just the reality that I’d grown away from conservative teachings of my youth was enough to make me an abomination.
If we’re going to invite someone, whomever they might be, to coffee then we are expressing a desire for that person. May that desire overflow with light, love and truthful intentions. May we cease our pretenses of proselyting, accusing, & shaming. May we choose embrace over shunning.
Using ways of connection to subdue, punish and hurt are killing our friends and family. It needs to stop. We have the power to do this. We must want it. We must all ache for it.
Take heart, dear reader.
There are many, many faith leaders who are LGBTQ+, who are allies and are actively expressing ways faith and spirituality, and gender identity and sexual orientation intersect and honour God. Stay tuned for my post about these unsung heroes. In the meantime, check out the video, soak in Emily’s words, and step into the role of both the recipient of these words and the speaker.
How would you live life differently?
How to Love the Sinner & Hate the Sin: 5 Easy Steps
By Emily Joy
1. Make sure the sinner knows how you feel about their lifestyle choices.
Silence is considered tacit approval.
Seize every opportunity to remind them your god says they are going to hell.
Don’t be fooled into polite dinnertime conversation,
The devil is in the details.
Structure your entire relationship around opportunities to ask them to change their mind.
Ask them, “Don’t you think this is just a phase?”
Ask them, “Why do you have to find your identity in a word?”
Remind them your word says they are an abomination,
You can’t change that, it’s not your fault,
God said it, not you.
2. Pray with your vote.
Religious freedom means never having to say you’re sorry.
You can still love people and take away their rights,
Trust me, we’ve been doing it for years.
Resist all attempts to allow the sinner equal access
To the legal and social benefits you enjoy,
You don’t want them to think they deserve it,
Let’s not reward deviants and perverts.
Put signs in your yard
Letting the whole world know that you’re voting “NO”
On marriage equality,
It’s much more polite than a banner that says
GOD HATES FAGS.
3. Ask the sinner to meet for coffee.
Tell them you’re concerned for their salvation.
You wondered if they would do a Bible study with you.
It just so happens to be in Romans.
Ask them if they’re a practicing homosexual.
Ask them questions you wouldn’t ask your closest friends,
If they don’t want to answer,
You should have thought of that before you chose to be gay.
Before you go,
Let them know that all sins are equal in the eyes of God.
Bestiality, child pornography, mass murder, voting Democrat,
It’s all the same when viewed from above.
You’re only saying this cause you love them.
When they stop meeting you for coffee,
Remind yourself that this is not your fault.
That the gospel is offensive
And calls us to sacrifice,
And the gospel must have been a bit too pricey for the sinner.
Put them on your prayer list anyway.
There’s not a heart that God can’t change.
When you see them in the grocery store,
Try to ignore the bags under their eyes.
Ask them how they’ve been
But don’t wait for an answer.
You don’t want to know.
4. Under no circumstances should you ever attend their wedding,
Even if the sinner is your child.
Especially if the sinner is your child.
Being there would just send the message that you approve of their lifestyle.
When you RSVP, say something like
I regret to inform that I will not be able to attend
As I do not believe in celebrating sin.
Let everyone know why you’re not going.
But do send them a gift.
A bible. Highlight important passages in Leviticus
And put a bookmark in the story of Sodom & Gomorrah.
If they never speak to you again,
This is not your fault, either.
People hated Jesus too
Cause he spoke the truth,
Just like you’re doing
When you love the sinner and hate the sin.
5. If they commit suicide,
Well, at least you know where they’re going.
At least you can tell their family at the funeral
That they got what they deserved.
When you lay your head down at night,
Quiet your demons by imagining how pleased God must be with you
And all the crowns you’ll get in heaven
For your refusal to water down the gospel.
Don’t think about them popping those pills
Or tying that noose
Or crashing that car.
Don’t think about desperate last minute phone calls,
Bodies crumpled on bathroom floors,
Children sleeping in alleyways.
We live in a sinful world.
There will always be suffering.
You can’t be held responsible for theirs,
You were just speaking the truth in love.
Close your eyes.
Say your prayers.