Regarding the massacre at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, I’ve heard the phrases, “senseless violence,” or “senseless tragedy” tossed around. Those are interesting and troubling phrases. Ones that, I think, let us all off the hook a little too easily.
Senseless violence means that what happened doesn’t have any logic to it, but that is not what happened in Orlando. What happened is a product of our culture: a culture that values the right to own guns more than it values people’s lives. It is a product of a culture where discrimination toward the LGBTQIA and minority communities is still all-too-frequent. It is a product of a culture where “tolerance” is seen as good enough — where we needn’t progress further to actually love each other. No, in our culture, sadly, the tragedy in Orlando was not senseless. What happened makes sense in the context of our culture. It would only be “senseless” if our culture were different.
So, how do we make our culture different? First, we have to come to an agreement that we want it to be different. Then, we have to become a culture that shows that we value people more than we value the right to bear assault rifles. We have to become a culture that stops persecuting marginalized communities and doesn’t just “tolerate” them, but actually loves, accepts, and celebrates them. We have to become a culture where it is safe to be who you are and love who you love in every sphere of our lives: in our homes, in our clubs, in our churches, in the workplace, etc. We have to come to a consensus to value that together. We have to love our neighbors. We have to love our neighbors. Until then, we all allow tragedies like this to make sense.
And I have a special note for all of the pastors who are preaching anything other than total acceptance and love of the LGBTQIA community in their churches: it’s time for you to change, because you are part of the problem. The onus is on you to change. God’s love is bigger — and has always been bigger — than we can fathom, and it has been humankind’s job to play catch-up throughout history. The way I see it, you have two choices: continue to cling to some misappropriated verses in the Bible and keep God in a box, or look at the bigger picture of what God has been doing in history. Evolve. Learn to love and accept and celebrate the LGBTQIA community. Your congregations are already evolving without you, they’re just waiting — hoping — that you’ll say something reassuring to them so that we can all breathe a sigh of relief together.
There is no wiggle-room here. To stay silent or ambivalent or preach anything other than acceptance and love of the LGBTQIA community is misguided religion. It’s isolating at best and complicit towards evil acts of violence like we saw in Orlando at its worst.
And for those of you who are apprehensive about showing your support: your silence hurts. It is time to “come out” with love. It is time to show your support for the LGBTQIA community. It is time to show that you value them. Because, in this culture, we’re not guaranteed tomorrows. We don’t know when the next tragedy will come. We have to love our neighbors. We have to love our neighbors.
Until next week, I’ll leave you with this: a message of hope and love from the LGBTQIA community in Seattle, Washington.