The horrific attack at an Orlando nightclub on June 12 resulted in 49 people being killed, with over 50 others wounded. I am stunned by suggestions that conservative Christians are hypocritical in expressing concern for the victims, who were almost all LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgender) individuals. The logic is that since conservative Christians (Evangelicals, Catholics, and others) have opposed same-sex marriage and other parts of the LGBT political agenda, they cannot be very saddened by the deaths of people in that community. I find that thinking ridiculous. However, it may reflect a failure on the part of those of us who are conservative Christians to clearly articulate our attitudes toward LGBT individuals. So for the sake of clarity, here is my perspective on the deaths that occurred last weekend.
I was saddened and horrified to learn about the slaughter in Orlando. Yes, I understood the victims were all probably LGBT people, but that didn’t matter. Yes, I believe that marriage ought to be between a man and a woman, but that didn’t matter. Yes, I disapprove of much of LGBT lifestyle, but that didn’t matter. Human beings had been killed. The family members and friends mourning these deaths, many of them LGBT, are human beings. Whenever innocent people are killed, it is both evil and tragic, and sexual orientation, political affiliation, race, ethnicity, and religious background do not matter. As a Christian, I am to “mourn with those who mourn (Romans 12:15).” I do not hate or fear individuals who identify as LGBT. My goal is to love them since I am striving to obey Jesus’ command to love my neighbor (even an enemy) as I love myself.
Yes, I do believe much of the LGBT lifestyle is “immoral” or “sinful.” That is my sincerely held religious belief based on what the Bible (when properly interpreted) teaches. However when it comes to sex, I also believe heterosexuals are guilty of plenty of immoral and sinful behavior. Yet the fact my family members and friends engage in behavior which I think is sinful doesn’t cause me to love them any less. As a father of four sons, I have learned I am capable of being displeased with their behavior without having my love for them diminished even slightly. Approval and love are not synonymous. I am also aware that my own behavior (and attitude) is often sinful. It would be foolish for me not to love someone because I think he or she is a “sinner,” since I am one myself! I believe all of us, no matter what sexual orientation, need the grace and forgiveness God offers through Jesus Christ. The Bibles teaches “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” and that “the wages of sin are death, but the free gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 3:23; 6:23).”
Chic-Fil-A is a company that has often been criticized and boycotted because of its opposition to same-sex marriage and other parts of the LGBT political agenda. On Sunday, June 12, a Chic-Fil-A restaurant in Orlando opened (on a day which they are always closed) so workers could come and make sandwiches which would be distributed without charge to emergency workers, those donating blood, and others seeking to help the victims of the attack on the “gay nightclub.” That reflects the attitude conservative Christians should have toward the LGBT community, and it is certainly not hypocritical. It is the type of attitude which, by God’s grace, I should have as well.
Rev. Dan Erickson
Senior Pastor, Chisholm Baptist Church