Start building relationships

Dear editor,
I must apologize.
When the United Church came out as affirming of LQBTQ people, I was caught up in the whirlwind of pushback by several local churches as only a very young adult could be.
Taught that standing against homosexuality was making a stand for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I surely gave the person who moderated your Facebook comment section a run for their money. I was all up in that comment section, making a stand “for the Gospel” and telling people they were wrong.
It came from an earnest, yet ignorant, place of heart. I was young and raised in the church where homosexuality is boiled down to an “issue.” It’s something you take a stand against and we lose sight of the real people on the other side.
The real people, who really experience this, who know all of the arguments and all of the arguments for why it’s a sin.
I was wrong. I apologize.
I was wrong because members of the LGBTQ community don’t have extra hoops to jump through to get to Jesus–they just need to come as they are. It is not the heterosexual Gospel of Jesus. It is the Gospel. Good news for all. It is truly good news for the LGBTQ community when studies show that those struggling with their sexuality, especially those within religious communities, have a higher risk of suicide, self-harm and mental health struggles.
I was wrong because members of the LGBTQ community who follow Christ are co-heirs with me. I was wrong because they–even those who do not follow Jesus–are made in the image of God like I am, and have the right to be treated with dignity and respect.
I was wrong because as soon as we boil down homosexuality as an issue, we lose sight of the individual and forget to listen. It is no longer about “speaking the truth in love,” it is about proving ourselves right. If we are not listening, we are not loving our neighbours.
We are to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.
I would urge my brothers and sisters in Christ to put aside the issue and come alongside the people. To put down our letters to the editor and start building relationships instead.
To remember that salvation is more than just an eternal matter–it is a matter for right now. It looks like fighting a battle, not against flesh and blood, but that which seeks to divide by hatred, fear and the unknown.
Perfect love casts out fear. May all of us, including myself, strive to be better at this.
Sara Kellar
Fort Frances, Ont.