The first chapter in Messy Grace by Caleb Kaltenbach is about the first time he spoke as a pastor about his youth and growing up with a lesbian mother and a gay father (they were married, but came out, and got divorced). It is hard to read about how nervous he was just prior to stepping out to give the sermon he had planned on for months.
I can’t imagine. I know a little of how much effort it can be to keep a big secret like that from your church family, but to be in a leadership position and to have one? That would be a challenge for anyone.
That’s one hard thing about the LGBTQ community – all of the living with secrets. Studies now show that children, at young ages, know that they are interested in the same sex long before we assume they would be. It sometimes takes years of pressure and the stress of that secret building before it can be released by sharing it. Courage. So much courage it takes to come out, especially in religious homes.
The pressure is often too much to bear for some and those stories far too often lead to suicide attempts and suicide. The statistics are staggering and scary. An LGBTQ youth is up to four times greater than the average population of youth to attempt suicide. Four times!! Those numbers don’t even include instances of self-harm.
How many of these children need to suffer before we can just be loving and tolerant and accepting? How many will it take? Caleb gives some good counsel. He says,
Jesus’s command to “love your neighbor as yourself “does not have an exception clause for a gay “neighbor”-or, for that matter, any other “neighbor” we might find it hard to relate to. Followers of Jesus have got to learn how to treat people in the LGBT community with love that has no limits and makes no compromises. We have to love people as Jesus does.
He sums it up nicely. We just need to love. I hope he goes on to explain how we can best show our love – even if we don’t agree.