Some of you might recall the blog I did earlier about my dear friend, Christoph, entitled "My Penance" and the follow-up blog, explaining my position more fully regarding LGBT inclusion within the Church.
Today while I was looking through Facebook, my friend, Christoph, added this picture above. It is a beautiful portrait of a man returning to Jesus. Of course, I liked it right away. Almost immediately I received this note from Christoph, which he has given me permission to share. It stated simply,
"Dear Tim, this picture is in my profile because you have given me something back: The hope that Christ will not send me away in the last hours from the Gate of Paradise. I thank you for that with all of my heart."
I started crying when I read that. It was a validation from my friend that I was doing something right. He had lost hope that God had shut him out forever from Heaven, but somehow through my writing, he realized that this was not the case and that God loves him just as he is.
I cannot begin to imagine all of the pain and hurt that others have gone through simply by being disowned by the Church. We use many euphemisms for this: Shunning, striking from the roles, excommunication, but in essence what we are telling these people is: You are not worthy of having fellowship with us. We are better than you.
Truth be told, I had a hand in all of this. I am only ever so grateful that I am able to somehow rectify the situation.
Looking at this from a broader perspective, we as a Church are going through some serious growing pains. We are beginning to realize once more that there are certain aspects of our lives that we need to get rid of to become more like Christ. In the mid 20th Century, it was racial discrimination. In the early 20th Century, it was women's rights. In the late 19th Century, it was slavery. I believe that in this first part of the 21st Century, we will realize that God is now calling us to love all of humanity and especially those that we as a Church have marginalized: the LGBT Community.
Let us listen to the voice of him who loved those whom society had rejected. Let us love the LGBT Community unconditionally and leave out all talk of "judging," "correction" and "discipline."