Hello there, you beautiful person!
I don’t know what it’s like to be lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, or transgendered. I don’t know what it feels like to be hated or picketed or asked to leave a church because of my lifestyle. At best, I know the pain of gossip from fellow Christians. (It’s not every day a small-town pastor’s daughter gets divorced, and when that does happen, people like to talk.) From my own public sins and mistakes, I know how it feels to have people you once loved and trusted not want to be around you, not want to talk to you, and assume you must not be a “real Christian.”
Here’s what I do know: I know what it’s like to have grown up alongside you, to have laughed over inside jokes, and to have watched you grow as a person. I know what it’s like to serve alongside you in the military, to trust you wholeheartedly with my life, to sleep on the floor in abandoned hangars and share MREs. I know you are strong because I saw your family turn their backs on you, and you picked yourself up and kept going. I know you are resilient, because I watched you keep your head held high after church leadership embarrassed you by asking you to leave the youth group.
Here’s what else I know: You are created in the image of God. Your name is written on his heart, and his hands. You are lovely, worthy to be loved, and you matter. I am deeply sorry that people use the name of Jesus to make you feel unloved. From the bottom of my heart, I apologize for Christians telling you that you don’t deserve God’s love, grace, and hope.
For every person who has been told they were beyond hope, help, or love, I am penitent. For every time the church at large chooses only to focus on a specific sin (while ignoring a host of others) and unleash judgment, I ask your forgiveness. To the single mothers who have been made to feel less than because of their marital status, I am sorry. To the unfaithful spouse who has been written off and ignored, I am sorry. To the brokenhearted spouse left to try and sort out the pieces without the full support of a church, I am sorry. To the teenagers who dress differently and are viewed with disdain by elders, I am sorry. To anyone and everyone who has been hurt by someone in the name of Christianity, I am truly sorry.