This post-Orlando week has been a tough one for conservative Christians, preachers and layfolk alike, and they need our thoughts and prayers.
It's been strenuous to acknowledge the horror of America's biggest mass shooting (by a single perpetrator) without appearing to affirm the 49 victims, most of them gay.
Although a few Christian preachers got right out there and actively celebrated the deaths of gay infidels, they were in the minority.
Most asked, what exactly are believers whose faith is based in part upon the demonization of LGBT people supposed to do?
Some focused almost entirely upon the shooter and the fact he was Muslim, hoping that the embarrassing sexual orientation of the dead would be obscured in a tide of Islamophobia if the flames of this global war on terrorism were fanned a little.
This strategy generally involved failing to mention that the slaughter occurred in a gay nightclub and that the victims were, indeed, LGBT.
Another segment acknowledged the sexual orientation of the victims and expressed sympathy, but added footnotes (of course we don't approve of their "chosen lifestyle").
"Othering" was another tactic, sending thoughts and prayers in much the same way that aid packages would be dispatched to flood-devastated villages of primitive heathens in, let's say, Johnson County, perhaps with a few gospel tracts in their native language included.
Middle-of-the-road, even modestly liberal, preachers called to serve "mixed" congregations --- where those of varying political and social philosophies share pews, keeping the offering plate full is a constant challenge and no one can be too offended --- were hard hit as well and adopted modified versions of the aforementioned strategies.
Curiously, polls suggest that some 48 percent of the U.S. LGBTQ population identifies as Christian and among those who do, some are especially eloquent. Ben Moberg is a young gay guy from Minnesota who blogs as Registered Runaway.
I liked what he had to say this week --- "Some Thoughts On Orlando."
Here's a sample:
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 ...
... 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.