As with so many others, my heart has broken again and again this past week — for reasons that this teenager makes so plain. He is my neighbor. He lives in the same state as I do. He lives 130 miles from me — and yet, our worlds are lifetimes apart. I serve a church that would embrace this young man. I serve a church that would want him to know above all else that he is a beloved child of God. I serve a church that is proud to be part of the United Church of Christ where this is attitude toward the LGBT community is the norm. And yet, the churches that express this faith are more often in the minority. There are far more churches that condemn the members of their churches and communities who love who they love.
My heart breaks for each one of these teenagers — and adults — that has never heard a Christian tell them that they are a beloved child of God. But, I know how rare this is. I know that far too many Christians can point to 7 verses of the Bible and claim that’s what God intends without reading in and around those sacred words to imagine that God might still have more to say about hospitality, love and community.
So, I want to come out. A week from today is National Coming Out Day — a day when I hope more and more lesbians, gays, bisexuals and beloved ones of God will be able to claim that this is how God made them to be. It’s a powerful statement. It’s an incredible witness — but it cannot only be our gay sisters and brothers that come out. We have to come out as allies. We have to reveal our commitment to love, affirm and uplift our neighbors who are 130 miles or more away from where we live and love. In the midst of all of the horrible, awful events of last week, there was one brave voice that inspired me. One of the youth of the church I serve posted on her blog an affirmation of love. We should all be so brave.
We should all come out. As Debra Haffner reminds her clergy colleagues, we can no longer be silent. She quotes Dietrich Bonhoeffer to underscore the point.
“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil; God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”