Most of us want to live reasonably quiet, meaningful lives, but sometimes that can’t happen. It certainly did not happen that way for those who became victims or survivors of the shooting terror attack in Florida last week. The location for the attack was chosen because it was a club frequented by lesbian, gay, and transgendered people. Anyone who is on the boundaries of cultural conflicts in values or acceptance is potentially on someone’s “target list” of evils or “bad people.” Those boundaries are where a lot of projected anger and negative energy can gather. The LGBT community has long been the recipient of this, as have ethnic, racial, and some religious groups. It is not easy being hated or targeted because of who you are. If you are part of a category of people who are targeted, then violence done to any of that number is violence threatened or done to you.
Jesus himself was targeted in no small measure because he crossed those lines you were not supposed to cross. One would think that people who name him as one they follow would not be among those doing the targeting. Last week it was not a follower of Jesus who did the targeting. But that has not always been the case.
The Christian church finds itself divided on the morality of different sexual behaviors. Within the church, that has made LGBT people the targets of anger and argument, often with little attempt to understand the reality of their experience. Imagine growing up around those judgments and trying to sort out who you are. Imagine being convinced or accused of being a moral leper for orientations you cannot control. This latest tragedy is one more call to change all of that. It is a call to grieve with those who grieve, and to share in understanding their experience. Whatever moral positions you hold, Jesus calls us to start there in that understanding. In Jesus we have no right to criticize who we do not love, and we do not love those we do not seek to understand. Along with our prayers and support for families and victims, let us follow the call to Christ’s kind of love.
- Rev. Charlie