By: Rev. Dr. Suzie Chamness
It is challenging perhaps now more than ever to be a GLBT person. Accepting who we are is for some, a lifetime work. It is difficult for each of us to accept at times and keep the faith while living true to who you are is even more difficult. I have felt isolated from both GLBT and faith traditions. Where is the balance? How do we keep the faith in God and humanity as we live as an out gay or lesbian? I have to remind myself that Christianity is a relationship, not a religion, and it is open to all who believe?
As I live each day as a person loved by God I remind myself to have faith that Jesus loves me "Just As I Am". That hymn captures the thought completely. We donít have to do a thing to earn Godís love. Remember the Roman centurion who asked Jesus to heal his servant; Jesus didn't ask him to repent as a condition of answering the centurion's request. What impressed Jesus was the man's faith. Most of us are undeserving of Godís love and grace but we will always have it. God will always be there ready and waiting for us to come and be freed from whatever binds us.
When we are forgiven by God we are in the Grace of God that will never let go. If you are ever told otherwise and that you lose your gift of salvation from God, that is wrong. Remember the Prodigal Son. He rejected his father, asked for his inheritance before his father was even dead, took the inheritance - and left. Can you turn your back on someone any more than that? His father did not stop loving him. God will not stop loving you. You may even stray from your faith but when you come back, God will be there, still accepting you, always loving you.
Do we continue to pray to God and ask that we are led in the direction for our life that God would have us go? Certainly we do. As long as we are alive we will have temptations to follow a path that can lead us away from God. But if we remember that our redemption is safe and the communication and prayer with God, we will be lead back to God each time we seek God in love and sincerity.
We are never without error and sin in our lives but God knew that would be a fact of everyone's life, all of our lives. Jesus says that we should not only forgive the first time someone sins against us, but "seventy times seven." How many people would you forgive after they did the same thing to you, not once, not twice, but 490 times? Tough call to make as a human isnít it? And yet, that's what Jesus commanded.
How many people in your church you know would be willing to do that? One or two, if we were honest with what we really thought. Probably no more than that and maybe in some places not even one could. Yet God will, and does. Even if you accept the idea that being gay is a sin (many churches do not any longer), remember it is the same to God as any other sin (any sin is enough to keep you out of Heaven were it not for Jesus' atonement). You can take great comfort in knowing that Christ's sacrifice covers all we do. There is nothing you or I have done, or ever will do that's big enough to keep us away from Gods' love and forgiveness.
When Christ was dying on the cross, He said, "It is finished." But the Hebrew translation says, "It is completed." Either way you want to say it, it means when Jesus gave His life on the cross, He paid the price for all our wrongs, once and for all. No one can add or take anything away from that work - it was completed by Jesus alone. No matter what others say is necessary for you to achieve salvation, remember that Jesus has already completed the work. Obey the 10 Commandments because it's wise, and because you want to follow the rules God sets for us. But following the rules will not get you to Heaven - not without the forgiveness of Christ.
Your faith is yours. No one has the right to tell you that it's not real, or that it isn't good enough. Christian faith is a deeply personal and intimate relationship between you and Jesus Christ. Sometimes, we forget this, and instead become fixated on the dogma, or the rules, of a particular denomination. Don't fall prey to giving too much weight to the opinions of others. Instead, rely on God, and remember that only God can whisper in that still, small voice what is right and true for you. As you grow in your relationship with Christ, you will know what things He wants you to change or to work on. Again, listen to Him.
God does not expect us to be or do anything other than what God directs us to do. When we follow our God on the path of faith that is set for us, we are doing God's will. If we are trying to live for others and to meet their expectations, we will fall short of their goals for us and most certainly not be following what God has planned for us. The life that God has given us is ours. God has created each of us to be our true self. We are to be respectful of this wonderful spirit God has given us to life in harmony with others. Respectful to ourselves and to others. It is not a matter of right and wrong but Godís will is one of love and grace for all people. We are to search continually to know God's will in our life.
Most people know a gay person, but don't realize it. We have an opportunity to show others that gay people aren't contagious or perverted. If you can find it within yourself to help them see you as an individual of faith and value, you may be able to help others like yourself. Even when the questions are uncomfortable and the attitude is bigoted. It will take much love and grace from you and I to answer the slanted questions and assumptions. It is a gift if we are able to educate them
Remain a person of dignity, integrity and faith. Even if your present church refuses to accept you as you are, there will be others who will welcome you. Rather than remembering the things you have lost, try instead to focus on the blessings you do have in your life.
Rev. Dr. Suzie Chamness is an MCC minister and chaplain. She just completed her D.Min. thru Andersonville Theological Seminary.
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