Later, Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. But when the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with such scum?” When Jesus heard this, he said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor — sick people do.” (Matthew 9:10-13 NLT)
There is nothing wrong with gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender people. Sexual orientations and gender identifications are not a disease and are not a sin. What is deadly wrong is homophobia, biphobia and transphobia. Jesus fellowships with gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in many affirming and welcoming churches around the nation, and in many straight congregations, where queer Christians try to keep a very low profile and survive.
Jesus fellowships with the outcast, because they need to hear more loudly and more repeatedly the assurance of God’s love, because they need to see God’s face more often and because they need the put their fingers in the wounds of Jesus’ hands more often to comprehend God’s love. For many queer Christians, comprehending God’s love and understanding that God does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identification or gender expression is almost impossible. As a result, many queer Christians live for many years doubting God’s love and fearing God’s judgment. I have good news. While God’s love is difficult to comprehend, God’s love is easy to apprehend.
Many gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Christians have experienced such high levels of spiritual abuse, Biblical bullying and oppression that they feel rejected, battered, beaten down, bashed and unworthy of love, unworthy of any form of kindness and compassion and certainly unworthy of being loved by God, the Ruler of the Universe. The results of the spiritual bullying can be seen in the bleeding hearts and lives of those who have symptoms of spiritual distress or who have symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder due of how they were treated in the name of God, by those claiming to be spokespersons for God and by those claiming to have direct and condemning revelations from God.
When I was in college, a story was related to me about the Black students who were studying to become ministers. According to the story, Black graduates had trouble getting jobs as ministers, because the White churches were reluctant to accept a Black pastor. Racism. And the Black churches were reluctant to hire Black ministers, because they felt they were just as good as the White churches and they deserved a White minister. Internalized racism! I do not know if the story was factually correct, but it has bothered me for years.
In an interview, titled “God of Surprises,” South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu reflected on being on an airplane in Africa. He noticed the two pilots were Black. Tutu said he “grew inches,” because the pilots were Black and they were doing something Black people had been told they could not do. While in the air, Tutu recalls running into heavy turbulence, so heavy he referred to it as the “mother and father of turbulence.” In the scary situation, he recalled thinking that there are “no white men” piloting the plane.
You know what we call Bishop Tutu’s reaction on the airplane? Internalized societal self-hate. That is a fancy word for hating yourself, because everybody else hated you. The world is full of internalized self-hate. We buy into the negative labels and the negative stereotypes forced on us by society and we end up thinking we are not good enough, that we are nobody, that we do not deserve any better than second or third rate and that we do not deserve a good partner, that we do not deserve a good job, that we do not deserve nice things and that we do not deserve happiness.
Tutu tells the story of working in a small church in Soweto. Many of the parishioners provided domestic work in the homes of White people. Many of the White South Africans would not use the names of the Black employees. They called the men boy and the women Annie. He would tell the parishioners that when asked their names they should say, “I’m a God-carrier. I’m God’s partner. I’m created in the image of God.”
We have associated our identity with being defective for so long that we do not know how to live as God created us to live, as priceless, treasured God carriers! We’ve ached and cried in darkness, when people around us seemed to be having a good time. God does not want you to hurt and to feel miserable.
- Do not regret being gay. Being gay is a privilege not given many people!
- Do not regret being lesbian. Being lesbian is a privilege not given many people!
- Do not regret being bisexual. Being bisexual is a privilege not given many people!
- Do not regret being transgender. Being transgender is a privilege not given many people!
- Do not regret being Black. Being Black is a privilege not given many people!
- Do not regret being Asian. Being Asian is a privilege not given many people!
- Do not regret being Aboriginal. Being Indigenous is a privilege not given many people!
- Do not regret being disabled. Being disabled is a privilege not given many people!
- Do not regret being old. Being old is a privilege not given many people!
And most important!
- Don’t regret being you! Being you is a privilege only given one person!
Of all the billions of people who have lived, of all the billions people who are alive and of all the billions people will ever live, only one person has been given the privilege of being you! And that’s You! So stop trying to be somebody else.
The old gospel song says, “There’s a new name written down in glory, And it’s mine, O yes, it’s mine!” The author of Ephesians might disagree some with the author of the classic hymn. The author of Ephesians might want the song to say, “A name was written down in glory before the world was created, And it’s mine, Oh yes, it’s mine!” Check it out: Ephesians 1:11-14.
I would like another version added to the Ephesians edition of the song. I want it to read, “There’s a new identity written down in glory, And it’s mine, O yes, it’s mine!” And that new identity, God carrier.
As I conclude, I am going to ask that you repeat these words.
“I am a God-carrier. I am God’s partner. I am created in the image of God.”
And everybody said, “Amen!”
A lifelong counselor, teacher and educator, having worked in elementary and secondary education for 25 years, Gary Simpson is a member of the Canadian Counseling and Psychotherapy Association and has spoken and led workshops on gay-straight alliances, bullying, spiritual self-defense, gay Christian identity, and the needs of GLBT youth and young adults.
Currently studying at Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley, Calif., he holds a B.Ed. from Union College in Lincoln, Neb., an M.A. in Guidance and Counseling and Ed.S. in Educational Psychology from Loma Linda University in Riverside, Calif., a Master’s in Religious Education from Newman Theological College in Edmonton, Alberta, and a Certificate in Sexuality and Religion from Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, Calif.