Love listens…

You would have to be living under a rock to miss all of the bickering going on these days…especially on social media.  Everyone has an opinion about everything.  Now don’t get me wrong…having opinions is not a bad thing.  However, how we express those opinions or how we treat each other when expressing them is another thing.

With all of the divisiveness…it can be easy to get sucked into arguments and misunderstandings.  One of those misunderstandings comes about when discussing opinions and beliefs related to the LGBTQ community.  A question that I’ve been asked a lot recently is this…

“Lesa how can I let the LGBTQ community know that I love them, but also let them know that I hold to my beliefs about what the Bible says about homosexuality?  It seems that they think I hate them because I don’t agree with their “lifestyle.”

When I press in to that question and ask if the person they are communicating with has actually expressed that they feel like the person hates them, the answer is usually no.  They tell me that the person hasn’t said those actual words, but they tell me that the discussion usually makes the person upset.

I have to tell you…I hear this A LOT.  People I know in the Christian community think that because they have a certain belief that the LGBTQ community thinks they hate them.  Now don’t get me wrong.  The community does get hate directed at them from some in the Christian community.  Sadly it is really bad especially in some areas of our country.  What I think is more accurate in these conversations is not the LGBTQ person thinking the person is being hateful…I think the LGBTQ person is trying to convey that they are being hurt by the conversation.

Here is something to remember when having these conversations…

By the time someone shares with you that they are LGBTQ, chances are that they have known this about themselves for years.  It is a secret that they have kept…and in more cases than I can count…keeping that secret nearly kills them…literally.  Even though no one knows their secret, chances are great that they have experienced a great deal of shame.  Where does this shame come from?  It could be from their parents.  Possibly overhearing them speak poorly about the LGBTQ community.  It comes from society saying that they are disgusting, that because they can get married they are ruining the family and society in general, etc.  It comes from the church.  Even if it isn’t preached from the pulpit.  Most of the time the message that is communicated to them isn’t that acting on their “gayness” is bad.  The message that they hear is that “they” are bad because they are gay.  It’s the first thing that my son said to us when he came out.  “I’m a bad person.”  He was only 15 years old.  He hadn’t done anything bad.  He hadn’t even acted on his feelings.  But the message he had gotten was that because he had same-sex attraction he was a bad person.

When someone shares their secret with you and you tell them that you love them, but you don’t agree with their “choice” it doesn’t feel like love.  I think part of this is because you are jumping too quickly into making a judgement about what they just told you (not talking about being judgmental here).  I think you need to enter their story more and learn what it means to them to be LGBTQ.

Another piece of this puzzle is this…

Suppose you grew up in the church.  Got baptized as a child who was old enough to make that decision.  Enjoyed serving with your church.  Enjoyed going to church services as you grew into an adult.  Loved Jesus with all of your being.  When you share that you are LGBTQ, you are told that you can’t be LGBTQ and Christian.  People tell you that you can’t be Christian because you are sinning by choice.  You, however, know that you wouldn’t have chosen this in a million years.

The LGBTQ Christians that I know have studied the “clobber” verses extensively (as have I as a parent of a gay child).  They have searched God on the topic.  They have prayed their guts out.  In some cases, had yelling matches with God.  They reach a place where they finally feel accepted by God.  Because of their studies, their theology changes and they no longer think homosexuality is a sin.  They feel loved by God and they finally feel comfortable in their skin.  And then they have these conversations that tell them they are sinning and the people they love can’t accept this part of them.

Take all of the history that they have been through…the shame, the rejection, the bullying in many cases, the struggle with their faith in God, and hold it up to those words that you’ve just said to them.  You’ve just told them that their struggles, their searching, their prayers, their faith….are wrong.  You read the Bible one way…and they read it another.  It’s a difference in theology.  You are telling them that your theology is right and theirs is wrong.  You are telling them that what they have felt from God and the Holy Spirit is wrong.

This isn’t so much about hate…but hurt.  Are you really listening to what they are telling you?

Going back to the original question…

“Lesa how can I let the LGBTQ community know that I love them, but also let them know that I hold to my beliefs about what the Bible says about homosexuality?  It seems that they think I hate them because I don’t agree with their “lifestyle.”

You are projecting your beliefs onto them.  And your message is that your beliefs are the only ones that matter.  It’s not what they need and therefore why they don’t feel loved.

I’m not saying you can’t have your beliefs.  Of course you can.  Just as they can have their beliefs.  Just know that it doesn’t come across as love at times.  Some LGBTQ people can live in that tension.  Others can not.  I have found that it really depends on their history and how bad things were for them as to whether or not they can be in relationship with someone who thinks the fact that they want to be loved is wrong.

Of course this is just scratching the surface.  There is so much more to this…and I know it’s not easy.  And I can only speak from what I’ve seen…I can’t speak for the community.  Which is why it is so important to listen.  And listen for a long time before jumping in to giving your opinion on what you think the Bible says about it.

You may find that by being heard…they feel loved.  And love matters…

15 thoughts on “Love listens…

  1. Thank you so much Lesa. Listening. Loving. Not judging. Putting right and wrong above life and death. Jesus knows. Thank you for showing us Jesus.

  2. I love this post.

    From: Love Matters To: Sent: Wednesday, October 17, 2018 8:45 PM Subject: [New post] Love listens… #yiv5041003742 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv5041003742 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv5041003742 a.yiv5041003742primaryactionlink:link, #yiv5041003742 a.yiv5041003742primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv5041003742 a.yiv5041003742primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv5041003742 a.yiv5041003742primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv5041003742 | Lesa posted: “You would have to be living under a rock to miss all of the bickering going on these days…especially on social media.  Everyone has an opinion about everything.  Now don’t get me wrong…having opinions is not a bad thing.  However, how we express those” | |

  3. Christian [heterosexuals] are absolutely right to believe what they do about homosexuality *as it pertains to themselves* – and since homosexuality does not pertain to them AT ALL, they are totally wrong when it comes to projecting *THEIR BELIEFS* upon homosexuals. And this is why I do not believe them when they tell me they love me BUT they don’t agree with my lifestyle. I was taught: when you interject a “but,” you negate your previous words. My “lifestyle” ought to not be in the same sentence as their love for me. My “lifestyle” ought to not be a qualification for us to enjoy our oneness in Christ, since Jesus NEVER made “lifestyle” a qualification for His communion with His disciples.

    Just as it is none of MY BUSINESS about THEIR lifestyle!

    • Thank you for sharing about this. I have a post that speaks into what you mention here about using the word BUT. It takes away the beginning part of what they’ve just said…”I love you, BUT” And unfortunately these conversations happen over and over and over again…which just makes it feel all the more unloving. Again…I appreciate you sharing your thoughts on this <3.

    • “Love” should NEVER be used to sugarcoat ANYTHING. Nor should it be used as “a makeup” to paint or gloss over personal dislikes. Above all, LOVE stands on its on merits and needs no modifiers or clarification. So when Christians say “I love you but…” my heart sinks within me, for the next words they are going to tell me, in reality say to my heart “I hate you. “No, no! Not YOU!” they declare, “your SIN!!” But God never tells us to “hate other people’s sins,” only our own. THIS is why, for me, their statement comes across as not just being hurtful; in reality it DOES feel hateful.

      This is why, Lesa, your messages are VITAL in bringing the reality to the truth that LOVE MATTERS!!!

      • Yes! Thank you for expressing this so well. So hard to explain and I think most of the time people really don’t get it. Having these conversations are so helpful so thank you for sharing your thoughts and experience on this.

  4. As parents of a precious gay son who we love and support, even though we won’t use the “but” in our vocabulary, many around us still do. I particularly think of family members or close friends who say they love him “but”….We too as Christian parents hear the same thing.

    • As the person who IS gay, I so thoroughly appreciate those who are NOT gay who have taken the time to LEARN the truth about those of us who don’t fit into the heterosexual box – your support of your own gay children means more to me than you can know. My own parents being dead before I came out, I never faced opposition nor experienced support from them. I am sorry to think that I would not have had the kind of parents such as you, Lesa, and you, Nathan. I just want to encourage you to continue in your support and sharing the wonderful message that it is truly that LOVE MATTERS more than anything else! Thank you from my heart!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s