“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:23-24 (NIV)
For nearly a year, I’ve been researching and preparing to conduct a presentation, during Pride Month 2021, on the history of LGBTQ+ Airmen in the United States Air Force. Last week I gave this presentation, which was filled with history, policy changes, and individual stories of Airmen who have served in the military from the 1940s through today. As a note of consideration to the reader, I’m a historian who works as a curator of an Air Force Historic Research Institute and museum. My job is to tell the story of Airmen and research the history of the Air Force.
In the days leading up to the presentation, I started getting nervous. It was an honor to be asked to speak and public speaking seems to be a universal “get nervous” activity. Likewise, I wanted to present accurate information and not go on the record with any incorrect policies or historic examples.
So, I asked a several people for prayers in that last week of practicing and refining slides.
I was shocked at the responses to these prayer requests. While there were some positive and encouraging Christians in my corner, the overwhelming response was skepticism, questioning, and even one that expressed outrage. How can I call myself a Christian and endorse LGBTQ+ people?!?!?!?
Let me say this part again…it’s my job to tell Airman Stories. All Airman stories.
But I need to further expand on the rationale behind this presentation so let me also declare this:
It’s my job…my responsibility…my task, as a Christian, to LOVE humans.
1 John 4:7-8 (NIV) states, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
In this passage, John is specifically addressing loving other believers with the love of God. While that seems easy to say, the reality is that the believer is just as unlovable as the non-believer. The believer and non-bleiever are both sinful. Therefore, as a believer, I hold fast to the thought that Christ has an expectation that I will love other believers…regardless of it I agree or disagree with them…regardless of if I like their personality or not…regardless of it I sin like them or not.
The non-believer deserves love and respect, as well. How do Christians expect to present the Gospel without being kind and respectful towards others? How do we show Christ’s love for all, when we aren’t being loving ourselves?
Ephesians 4:32 (NIV) states, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
I may not love the sinful choices or behaviors of someone. I don’t like that my friend stole a pen from the bank, or that my child told a lie, or that I said a swear word. According to scripture, it is absolutely appropriate to dislike sinful thoughts, deeds, and words. But scripture is also VERY clear that we are to love our brothers and sisters, as Christ loved the church.
I acknowledge that there are Christians who absolutely believe that the LGBTQ+ community is wrong in their sinful lifestyles. Hence the reason so many felt they could speak negatively about my prayer request in regards to the presentation.
I also acknowledge that we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
All of us. All of us. ALL OF US. For those in the back, ALL of us have sinned…so why are we judging someone else with such absolutes and harshness?
Perhaps it’s time to stop judging one another based on our sins and start really loving one another past those sins, just as Christ loved us.