Some Thoughts On Orlando

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I don’t know how I could’ve handled the Orlando massacre if it hadn’t happened on a Sunday, if I hadn’t been able to go to church. My faith is hardly passable most days. I’m committed to Christ but I skip a lot of sundays, and I have a lot of theology that’s tied up in questions I can’t answer, a brain that is steeped in doubt, a rebellious heart that wanders off, and a smart mouth. But when Orlando happened, I felt like I was going to die. I needed prayer. I needed communion. I needed a hymn. I needed a pastor to speak on this and not bury it, or explain it neatly, or whitewash it, or make it all about gun violence and not about the relentless fury of Christian America’s hatred towards LGBTQ people. Thank God, my brother is a pastor.

 

I stood in the pews and wept as my brother called out the homophobia and racism of our society and our church, and then as he led us in a prayer of repentance. I needed to repent, too. I can be the worst ally to others, and to myself.

 

Following the service, I went to the vigil with friends in Loring Park. Still raw, I watched politicians take the stage and cringed at their grandstanding and the hoorahing they received and instead cast my glance around and saw all the people I knew. All the men and women I had met at clubs and bars, wrapping their arms around each other, crying, clenching their fists, then throwing them up boldly. We lit candles and the gay men’s chorus sang. We held hands, because sometimes that’s the only answer.

 

Pastors and Rabbis and Imams took the stage and my heart leapt. Prophetic passages were read and we were reminded that we all belong together and together we will overcome. In my head, I kept hearing that line of Jesus, “where two or three gather in my name, there I am with them.” And I opened my eyes and there he was.

 

There has been a lot of conversation about how the Church had a hand in the violence that took place Sunday. I agree with that. When you sow seeds of homophobia and racism, hatred and violence, do not be surprised by the poisoned fruit you reap. When you suddenly care about us only in the aftermath of a massacre, after years of demeaning and ridiculing us, and yet- AND YET STILL feel the need to qualify your statement with a summary of your theological opinion on sexuality and gender, do not expect a thank you. I am admittedly hypersensitive right now, but if I see one more status or tweet about Orlando that doesn’t make mention of the fact that this was gay club that was targeted… I’m going to break my laptop against the wall and I can’t afford another one.

 

Another strand of the conversation I keep hearing that I really hope to hear differently are the straight Christians chastising other straight Christians with variations of an old argument: if straight conservative Christians don’t get their shit together, LGBTQ people might never know the love of God. A whole generation’s attitude towards faith will be tainted. LGBTQ people will leave and it will be all our fault. It is very hard to see why I might be frustrated with this sentiment, written as it is out of love and righteous anger over the very very real damage done by church people.

 

But it is only half the story. And when it’s told this way, it suggests that somehow approval from straight Christians is the only way we get God. It keeps LGBTQ people categorized amongst those that need to be ~reached~, when the truth is, God has been reaching us all along, as he’s always done with the marginalized. It’s the other half of the story that isn’t being told, and the one that turns from the ugliness of oppressive Christians to the faithfulness of God to his people. It’s one in which God is centering LGBTQ people as the leaders of his Church.

 

According to Pew Research, 48% of LGB people identify as Christians. 48%. Forty-Eight Percent. That’s half. That’s major. It’s stunning. It makes zero sense and yet complete sense when you consider what concerns our Lord. And while the rest of the country has slowly moved away from faith, LGB people have been trending towards it. (an aside: I’m unsure why trans folks and others weren’t included in this survey.)

 

And this is what I love about God: The Church has driven out LGBTQ people for centuries, with an especially intense malice over the last several decades, and in response to this, God just says, okay, fine, we’re good out here. Where you chase my people, I will be with them. Where they gather, I will be there. Clubs. Conversations. Protests. In lament and anger and tears and laughter and way too many drinks. I will be with them and make this right for them. I will love them more fiercely for their wounds. I will draw them close. I will know them and they will know me. They will tell you my name.

 

A survivor of the night club saved one of the bartenders. In a statement, he said: “I felt God put me at the club and made me stay behind to help a complete stranger. For whatever reason that may be….I don’t know, but I do know it was hopefully to save his life,”

 

God was at the club, because God lives in clubs. God lives in the homeless shelter and the street corner, the hospital bed and the drag show. God lives in the queer community. His true home has always been with the oppressed.

 

I want to talk about this, because if you’re looking for the faithful to lead the conversation, here we are. If you’re looking for God in all of this, here we are. The LGBTQ movement has the breath of God in its’ sails. The breath of God is in our lungs. God is at home within us. So if you’re trying to sort out where God is in all of this, what God is trying to tell you in your heart, turn to us and find him. We’ll show you.

 

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  • john

    Thanks you for these wise, moving words, Benjamin!

    • Anne Gull

      Wise? Hmmm.

  • Eleanor Katherine Skelton

    Thank you for this. <3

  • Lloyd Peacock

    Benjamin, your words flew off the page and into my heart. The blog may have been written by you but the Author was Holy Spirit. For many years my husband, Bob and I attended church at the bottom of a bottle. Often, as we were in a drunken stupor God ministered to us. We had no other church to go to because we were not welcome. One cold December night, as fire fighters pulled me from a tangled wreak God reached down and breathed life into a dying man. A year later God’s Spirit led us to a small church in Phoenix, Arizona. There we found others like us, those who had been rejected by family and church. At that moment we knew we were special in the Eyes of our Master. We then surrendered our lives to Jesus.

  • Betsy Henning

    Wow Ben! This is so very helpful! Thank you, and God bless you — still, again, and more. ?

  • Reality_Calling

    I am Christian, I am gay, and you are projecting your hate onto others: “I needed a pastor to …make it all about …the relentless fury of Christian America’s hatred towards LGBTQ people.”

    These are your words–yes, I pared them down to your essential point, but they are your words nonetheless.

    An Islamic Terrorist killed and maimed 100+ gay people, did it WHILE pledging his allegiance to ISIS, and YOU NEEDED A PASTOR TO BLAME CHRISTIANS.

    You are messed up, and no, it is not Christians fault, it is YOUR fault for trying to make God conform to fit YOU, instead of the other way around.

    Muslims may kills gays, they may slice our throats, burn our bodies, tie our hands behind our backs and throw us from buildings, they may hang us from gallows, or cranes, or bury us up to our shoulders and stone us to death, they may attempt to burn us alive as they did in a Seattle gay club, or mow us down as they did in Orlando, but CHRISTIANS WONT REJECT JESUS’ TEACHINGS ON EXACTLY WHAT MARRIAGE IS AND BAKE YOU A CAKE!!! And for that you hate them.

    You do not want to change to conform to God’s will, you want a god that changes to conform to you.
    You do not believe that all humans are sinners, fallen from grace.
    You do not believe that we all have a sinful nature. You do not believe that by nature we all rebel against God.
    You don’t believe that sin could be something you WANT to do.

    Even worse, you want government to FORCE other people to live their lives as though the Bible says what YOU want it to say instead of what it does say, and you want government to punish them if they dont, as government is punishing florists, bakers, and Catholic adoption services in MA., among others.

    They are oppressed, you are not. You don’t even know the meaning of the word. You are being disagreed with, as YOU try to use the law to force others to accept YOUR values. YOU are the only one oppressing.

    Grow up.

    • What a cruel, pointless comment. And I rarely use language that blunt.
      Why are you so offended that someone else is reeling from tragedy to his own community? Why is your first instinct to further condemn a community recently massacred, to blame Islam as the singular cause while you clutch your guns and scream “Mine!”, instead of lamenting along with them?
      It’s not about you. This is not about you.

      • Nat Alee

        Well, the shooter was a Muslim. If it’s wrong to blame all Muslims, it’s especially absurd to blame conservative Christians for the actions of the shooter.

        That’s just common sense.

        • Oh, I agree. I blame the shooter and the shooter alone. I don’t think it’s wrong to point out how conservative Christians have actively helped cultivate a homophobic culture, however. Just as we can point out that Isis has promoted jihad all over the place. 🙁

          • Why are you hurting me? I have done nothing to you, and wish nothing but good for you.

      • Reality_Calling

        Why am I offended that a hysterical queen who didnt know anyone involved and has no ties to the event is lashing out at innocent people and blaming them for a Muslim terrorist attack?

        Because, unlike you, I am honest.

        I am ALWAYS offended when people tell lies about others! Falsely blame them for things they didn’t do. My first instinct, UNLIKE YOU, is to always seek the truth. And I cannot lament along with liars who lash out at innocents. This is not rocket science, standing up for the falsely accused is always right, blaming people for things they had nothing to do with is ALWAYS wrong.

        Actually, that’s not true. Christians DID have a lot to do with Orlando, they came out in DROVES to give blood, show support, help pick up the pieces. Chick-Fil-A, which the gay left hates with all it’s satanic fury, (not this gay, this gay loves Chick Fil A!) came out on Sunday and gave free meals to those trying to help by giving blood.

        But if you had a good sense of right and wrong, just and unjust, you wouldn’t BE a leftist to begin with, and you wouldn’t be defending this childish LIE of a post! BTW, Im gay, this is more about me than it is you. So please STFU and go skankspain your ignorant, stupid, immoral BS to someone else.

        • Are you okay? I’m finding it a bit concerning that you’re jumping to the conclusions that I am dishonest, straight, stupid, leftist, and immoral because we disagree (all of which are untrue), and cussing at me. For a Christian, that’s…awfully strange.

          I’m all for having discussions and disagreements (And, for the record, I never even said I agreed with his post, just that I found your comment cruel). I’m not for misogynistic fallacies like “hysterical” and “skank.” Personal attacks typically mean you have no argument left.

          Please be kind. I don’t think you are a bad person. I believe you’re capable of more than personal attacks. I hope you find peace and love in this world and the next.

          • Lloyd Peacock

            Elizabeth, I have found that when one expresses a differing opinion on these sites you must have a thick skin. I am attacked anytime I make a comment. I just pray for individuals like poor Max. Hang in there.

          • Reality_Calling

            LOL! Oy! the hypocrisy is so thick you could beat it with a stick. I started posting here because the author was wrongfully blaming and lashing out with hate at people who had nothing to do with the attack.

            I am the only one expressing a differing opinion from this site. I am the only one being attacked for it.

            So please get over your faux victimization.

            I am also the only one quoting the Word, which is the only truth, but those of you need to believe that quoting what the Bible actually says is “hate” because it contradicts what you WANT to believe are attacking me for it.

            The Word is God, and God is never hate.

            When you think the Word is hate, you need to get down on your knees and pray that God will correct whatever is so very messed up, so 180 degrees wrong in your head & heart.

            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/0a3820b7c143640c71971a99c97f63650ed73d94f251cf52db32c93b859fb8e6.jpg

          • Lloyd Peacock

            It is difficult to respond to someone who doesn’t have the courage to identify themselves. However I will do so by providing you with a link to a video that you might learn what love means. You use the Bible like a sword, to slash and slice those who may disagree with you. Bob and I will be celebrating our 48th anniversary next month, for 25 of those years we have been born again followers of Jesus. I think you might ask God’s Spirit to impress on your heart what Scripture really says about homosexuality? We have done so and know that we are the other sheep that Jesus spoke of. Fortunately you don’t pick and choose who goes in or stays out of heaven. Your job is to love all that you meet. I would ask you to watch this video by Jeremy Lopez, and perhaps you will understand what love means.

            https://www.facebook.com/mrjeremylopez?fref=ts

      • Reality_Calling

        I am offended by lies and by hate filled people wrongfully blaming others for things they did not do, and wrongfully calling others haters when it is THEY who are far more filled with hate.

        My instinct is to tell the truth. While you tacitly blame ME because you believe I have guns? (I do, and Im a very good shot, but Have never committed any crime with them.)

        You are as much a liar as the author. And the fact that you are all lying, and in the wrong is evidenced by the authors need to delete my comments for telling the truth about his lies.

        I do not know how to help people who lie and will not let go of their lies. All I can do is pray for you and them.

  • Lloyd Peacock

    Reality_Calling: First why not post with your name and not some anonymous tag. I don’t believe you are gay, or maybe you think that by saying that and taking Mr. Moberg’s comments out of context and including your hateful rhetoric on behalf of Log Cabin Republicans make it right., well it doesn’t., It just showed how ignorant you are. Mr. Moberg was explaining through a painful and broken heart, that Jesus is with US., all of us in the Community whether you like it or not., and BTW, we do comply to the teaching of Jesus Christ, as our Savior, Redeemer and living Word and know that He will come again to take up His bride that we are part of. But, we do not blame one group in its’ entirety, we blame those who spew the same type of rhetoric that you do., that promote hatred no matter its’ form. There are all types out there, not just Christians. I am a Christian in spite of Christians., I am a follower of Jesus Christ. I did have to laugh out loud when you stated that Christians just want to be left alone, ha.ha. then why the LOUD NOISES from the pulpits calling for the death penalty for LGBTQ people, or stoning, or worse from some of the Evangelical and Pentecostal right wing., some of the rhetoric worse than that of the Terrorists. I think you need to wake up., you are the embarrassment ! and that you want Liberty on your terms. So we agree to disagree., that is your privilege and right as it is mine. But, when it comes to spewing the hateful rhetoric that comes out of the mouths of a lot of so-called Christian then yes, we do have a right to SPEAK OUT, and speak Truth., I thank you for your post, as it brought to light exactly what Mr. Moberg was saying., you enhanced our statements.
    Blessings to you whoever you are.

    • Reality_Calling

      Why not post with my name? Are you kidding me! Because Ive seen what you fascists–and YES, you leftists ARE fascists–do to the Brendan Eichs, to florists, bakers, any Christian who would stand up to you and tell you what JESUS says marriage is–word for word, straight out of the Bible–and politely decline to serve your ceremony–which the compassionate Pope Francis says is “of the Devil.” You demand the government FORCE them to bend to your will.

      Even Camille Paglia calls you fascists and Stalinist. Andrew Sullivan, and every other reasonable voice left in America.

      But you are not reasonable. You lash out at Christians for slaughter committed by Muslim terrorists and blame then, and then lash out at ME for calling you on it.

      Those are not Christian things to do. Ignoring Christ’s teachings on marriage (He was very clear on it, and it didn’t include same sex couples), insisting he said something else, then using the police state to force others to comply with your lies about what he said is not following Christ.

      That you defend this post lashing out at Christians for something a Muslim terrorist did is not following Christ.

      Jesus will save all who believe in him, that he is the son of God, the Word made flesh, who died to pay the price for our sins and was resurrected by God on the 3rd day, redeeming us, by grace alone.

      But how do you believe in Jesus Christ, the Word made Flesh, when you refuse to believe the word? When you insist it says things it doesn’t say? And then try to force those bastardized beliefs onto others through the force of government?

      Blaming people for things they did not do is hateful rhetoric. Lashing out at them, insulting them, accusing them of heinous things they didn’t do is hateful rhetoric.

      People telling you that they cannot in good conscience participate in your bastardized, twisted, delusional lies about what the Bible clearly says marriage IS, is not hateful. It is the truth. It is spreading the ACTUAL Word. And spreading the truth and the word is love. Not hate.

      What a twisted, upside down world you live in where the word and the truth is hate, and lies, hate and bearing false witness are love!

      But keep seeking Christ! He does love you! Those who seek shall find.

      Trust in the Lord (the living word) with all your heart! lean NOT on your OWN understanding, trying to force God to fit into your worldview, but in ALL your ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight.

      • Lloyd Peacock

        I recently watched the loving pastor from Sacramento say that he was happy that the gunman in Orlando killed 50 gays but the sad thing was that he didn’t kill them all. I’d like to share a video of my husband with you. He was singing at a Celebration of Life for a young man who took his life after a pastor told him he would burn in hell. I just wonder if this is the type of love you speak of?

        • Reality_Calling

          That pastor was wrong, as is the author of this article. Funny that you cannot say the same. That was easy. Sorry, you have lied so many times I will not take your word for what anyone else said. I simply dont believe you.

      • Anne Gull

        It’s malicious slander directed at Christians, that’s what!

    • Reality_Calling

      Dear lord, so many falsehoods and lies in such a short space. I cant think of the name of the pastor you are talking about, but you GROSSLY misrepresent what he was talking about. He absolutely was NOT calling for the death penalty for gays or stoning, he was talking about the nature of sin and what sin is WORTHY of had Jesus not died FOR our sins. Yes the wages of sin are DEATH. That is a central tenet of Christianity. It is WHY JESUS WAS CRUCIFIED. If you do not believe that sin is worthy of death then I dont know what false god you believe in, but it NOT Jesus.

      Jesus Christ died precisely to pay the price for my sins and the sins of all mankind who will believe in him with his sinless, innocent life. The ONLY sinless, innocent life.

      I understand why gays get hysterical when people call them sinners–because they are not ready to believe in the Word. And since the Word IS God, they are not ready to believe in God. I used to get defensive about it, now I just laugh, point my finger right back at them and say, yeah, and you’re a sinner too!

  • Those last two paragraphs are everything, Ben. Love you so much.

  • Jane Halton

    Thank you for your words (again), Ben. Peace to you in this horrible time of grief and anger.

  • Nat Alee

    I’m curious why you think blaming conservative Christians for a gay Muslim man murdering people will convince these same conservative Christians to change their mind on gay marriage? It’s a bizarre way to persuade people, that’s for sure.

    • Anne Gull

      God hasn’t changed His mind on marriage.

  • Amen and amen.

    • Max

      The faux “Christian” who, as always, walks in lockstep to the secular culture because she’s such a coward and prefers to follow the crowd.

      If you’re a Christian, Satan is a Christian.

      You and that brainless Rachel Evans cow seem to be competing to see which wins the award for F-g Hag of the Year.

      • Anne Gull

        Don’t forget Jen Hatmaker!

  • Yes. This is beautiful, Ben.

  • Jon Hughes

    Beautiful. Thank you. The LGBTQ community doesn’t need straight approval to find God, and God doesn’t need the straight approval to find the LGBTQ community. The Almighty will skip right over the self righteous and go straight to those who need God. Now – God bless us all, the gay the straight and the somewhere in between.

  • Todd Fredrickson

    This is a beautiful post overall, but you have perfectly illustrated the one thing that has hurt me to the core about the narrative that has followed this event:
    A devout Muslim, pledging allegiance to ISIS, slaughters 50 people, and somehow the Christian church is to blame.
    What happened in Orlando is not part of the trajectory of American Christianity, it is part of the trajectory of extremist, jihadist Islam, whose adherents believe they are earning eternal rewards for killing infidels, whether they are gay Americans or shoppers in Tel Aviv.
    I hear that the Christian church is to blame for sowing seeds of hatred toward LGBT people. The shooter was not indoctrinated by the church. I hear that conservatives are to blame for lax gun laws. The shooter could just as easily have done this as a suicide bomber.
    I am certain that I speak for the overwhelming majority of Christians, yes, even theologically conservative Christians, who are horrified and grieved by this event. I am equally certain that the percentage of Christians who might in some sick way see God’s hand in it is no larger than the percentage of Muslims who would agree.
    Yet I continue to hear and read that while Islam has nothing to do with this, the Christian church needs to shoulder the blame. The church is not perfect. I know that as well as anybody. I have been hurt by bad theology and bad leadership from the pulpit. The church has plenty of skeletons in its closet, both from the past and today. But this is not one of them.

    • WTR

      It wasn’t Islam that made the first 30 years of my life such hell that I tried suicide. It was disgusting Christian filth that did.

      • Todd Fredrickson

        To the extent that persons or institutions that (claim to) represent Jesus Christ can be held accountable for difficulties in your life, I am sorry. What does that have to do with the shooting in Orlando, which was perpetrated by a devout Muslim?

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  • Fred Harrell

    Thank you Ben. So beautiful, and so true.

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  • Reality_Calling

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/0a3820b7c143640c71971a99c97f63650ed73d94f251cf52db32c93b859fb8e6.jpg

    “I needed a pastor to…make it all about…Christian America’s hatred towards LGBTQ people.”

    In other words you needed a “pastor” to lie to you and tell you it was something it wasn’t.

    You needed a pastor to wrongfully demonize a whole group of people to justify YOUR HATE which I will venture to guess is based on the fact that they cite parts of the Bible that you don’t like to you–and nothing about that is beautiful or truthful or Christian or anything to be praised as the wrong-headed commenters are saying it is.

    It is wrong.

    That you are sad about something that happened to somebody else, does not make it right for you to lash out in hate and blame people who had nothing to do with it and claim that they are filled with hate when they are not.

    The Word is never hate.

  • Giova Gallagher

    What a beautiful post. I’ve experienced this I my straight, cis-gendered life: queer Christians are the prophets. I’m listening.