Note: This is the part 3 of a Steps to Reconciliation series. Read part 1 here and part 2 here.

One of the not-so-pleasant realities for those of us seeking to reconcile the LGBT Christian community with the Church at large is the fact that those of us who are LGBT — need to play a role in that reconciliation as well.

In the last couple of days, I’ve gotten a lot of support from people who are thrilled that I’m pointing fingers at the Church for the decades of abuse they’ve hurled toward us. They’ve aligned themselves with anti-gay hate groups who have added insult to injury by complaining that our government has a new policy to withhold aid to countries that imprison, torture, or even kill people just for being gay.

So yes, they have much to answer for — and with good reason. Unfortunately, many of us in the LGBT community have responded by completely closing ourselves off to the Church, rejecting Christianity outright, and otherwise harboring a fair amount of bitterness toward Christians, no matter how they embrace us.

All too often, we are wounded. We are hurting. Quite frankly, some of us have been so heavily wounded by the Church that we’re barely functioning. The bitterness, anger, resentment, and dejection that we feel toward other Christians is enough to poison our spirit. Make no mistake about it. I do not place any of the responsibility of those attacks anywhere but to those who have pulled the trigger.

Nor am I going to pretend that we had anything to do with it. It would be like blaming a woman for wearing a tight skirt if she was raped. No, there are no “we brought it on ourselves,” lines here. Far from it. In fact, many times that we are attacked verbally is because we open ourselves with trust to a leader, a mentor, or another brother or sister in Christ, confiding in them about our sexual orientation.

Then their response might be to ask their friends to “pray for you” because you’re “a homosexual,” and become the brunt of church-wide gossip. We all know how those games go. They’re vile, vicious, and nothing more than a thinly-veiled bit of busybody blathering. So yes, we have reason to be angry.

We have great reason to be angry because so many of our Christian brethren believe the lies that are told to them by the American Family Association, the Family Research Council, the Traditional Values Coalition, and two dozen other hate groups. They claim that they’re merely presenting “family values” while spewing misinformation, flagrant untruths, outright lies, and distorted studies — all to make the LGBT population look as evil as they possibly can.

Yes, we have reason to be angry. When prominent leaders blame devastating hurricanes on “liberals and gays,” our outrage is both expected and appropriate. When “Christian” groups casually link a popular anti-bully event with Adolf Hitler’s birthday, we have every right to be incensed. When those same groups declare that the LGBT population is like an “iceberg” that’s “out to sink” our society we should be damned angry.

But, dear friends, our job is not to sway the hate groups, the liars, or the bigots. They are the most vocal, the most damning, and the most vile. Their very existence depends on how they can sway their supporters to send every last dime they have — all in fear that the “radical homosexual agenda” will take over the world.

We have been wounded. We have been attacked, damned, and ostracized. The venom that these groups have spread has poisoned the minds of our friends, families, and churches.

We cannot control what the hate groups say. We cannot control what the church leaders preach. We cannot control what their parishioners believe. The only thing we can do anything about — is ourselves.

Yet we are frustrated. We are frustrated because we expect consistency we’ll never get. We’re frustrated because we long for the love that will never come. We are frustrated because we have fingers shoved in our faces instead of arms of embracing.

The time has come for us to stop expecting what we know will never come. Disappointment only comes when we expect more than we receive. But this isn’t a Christmas morning where we don’t get that toy we wanted — this is our family, even our very lives.

For there to be any reconciliation, we simply must stop expecting the opposite of what will come.

Yet through it all, Jesus said to love our enemies. He said to forgive our brother or sister who sins against us.

Up to seven times?

Seventy times seven.

Over and over and over.

If we can not live by the teachings of Christ Himself, how can we expect those who live by the rules of Paul to see the difference? We must stop licking our wounds long enough for them to heal — and the only One who can truly heal us is the Healer Himself.

That doesn’t mean we have to stay in sour relationships. It doesn’t mean we have to poison our spirit by sitting under ministries that pour bile out with every sermon.

Find the safe places. Find a place to heal. To be Christian. Where there is no expectation of “praying the gay away.” Where we can be whole. Where we can be nurtured and to be fully healed…. not so that we can rest, but so that we can carry the torch of the living risen Lord and Savior to those who truly, desperately need to know that someone genuinely cares.

We have a responsibility — if we are Christian, to BE Christian. Live with integrity. Form healthy relationships, shun promiscuity, and truly follow Christ.

We who have been wounded in the past have the calling — a responsibility even — to find those who have also been wounded and minister healing. We’ll have to continue to dodge those jagged, venomous arrows from both sides — a no man’s land where countless people are only hoping to survive.

We must find the wounded and care for them.

We must find the bullied and help them to stand firm and be proud of who they are.

We must find the tormented and help them find healing.

We must find those in despair and help them find hope.

Our calling is not to fight the oppressor… our calling is to break the yokes off the backs of the oppressed. Jesus said:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19)

And so He has called us to do the same.

This Rainbow Kingdom is precisely what God has called us to as LGBT Christians. We’ll never find that place of wholeness by arguing doctrines or the meanings of Scripture. Our mission is simple, yet so complex: To be Christians. To take on the mission God has given to us.

When I write of the bile spewed by the hate groups, it’s not for the benefit of those who already know about their evil, it’s to expose their venom to those who rely on them for “facts.” But we’ll never get anywhere when we only focus on what is wrong — we must find the people who are willing to go into the battlefield with us, to find those who are wounded.

When we fix our eyes on Jesus, we begin to take on His likeness (2 Cor 3:18). This is why we must be careful to not focus on the evil of man, no matter how holy he might seem.

It’s not easy, and it’s certainly something to not take lightly. But I can’t think of a better way to reconcile with the church at large than to take on the mantle of the servant leaders that God has called us to be.

We must find those who are willing to walk with us, to serve with us, and to build lives together, not tear them down. Let’s find those places where hope is preached, and love is lived. And then let’s find the people who have been wounded and help reconcile them with the Church.

Because, my dear friends, WE are the Church.

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