We need to do better. Growing up is tough. I was an awkward, insecure teen. I was skinny, flat-chested, and assumed kids were talking about me even when they weren't. But somehow in spite of that, I liked myself and knew that most people liked me too. For the most part, I felt acceptable in my home, my church, in my neighborhood and at school. I endured a few insults here and there, but the truth is that our LGBTQ youth hear more indirect and direct insults in a week, than I have in a lifetime. They will be taught from the moment that they begin to feel that they are different, that who they really are at their core is not acceptable; not acceptable at church, at school, at home, with their friends, and especially not with God. They will be taught that what everyone else takes for granted, that they will someday fall in love and create a family, will not be for them and if they do find that, that they might have to choose between that love and having an eternal family. More than that, they will be taught that even holding someone of the same genders hand might be dangerous and that others might taunt them for it…or worse. They will be taught directly and indirectly that the world is not for them. They will be taught that while others are acceptable just because, they are not acceptable…just because. Because of a random selection, these people are the preferred. These ones are the ones that get to have all of God’s blessings, but it’s ok because you’ll be blessed too, but only if you live your life in a way that makes the rest of society feel better.
We need to do better. We need to do better as parents, as teachers, as church leaders, as friends, as aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters, and neighbors. We need to reach out and embrace all within our reach and then reach even further. We can not sit by and assume that all is well in Zion because young people’s lives depend on us. It is not okay to be anything less than supportive and affirming. It is not okay to say I love you, but…. It’s not ok to say you are welcome in our home, but only if … , and only you and not your partner. It’s not ok to hear slurs directed at our LGBTQ youth and not say something. It’s not ok to find out that 49 LGBT youth were gunned down and do nothing. It’s not ok to find out that yet one more youth took their life and do nothing.
We need to make sure that our homes, our schools, our churches, and our society is one where every child feels like they are acceptable just the way they are. Love really is for everyone and that love has to unconditional and unequivocal. Anything else is not Godlike. I know mothers who were doing all in their power to love as God would have them love and it wasn’t enough to protect their children from feeling like they didn’t belong in this world, so those children chose to leave it. As a society, as a church, as humans, we must do better.