Much is being said and written from many different perspectives about the nightclub tragedy in Orlando this past weekend. Some have commented from political platforms, some from within the LGBTQ community, some from outside that community, some with hate, some with understanding—everyone working to explain what really happened and to figure out why.
Quite a bit has been written or spoken by pastors and leaders in the evangelical church about the events, as well. Most that I’ve seen have offered and called for the thoughts and prayers of the church for the friends and families of the victims. It’s a good, noble and right thing to call for, lifting each other up to God amidst our shock and grief and sadness. However, much that I’ve read and heard from the LGBTQ community is that it’s hard to hear support from Christians in the midst of tragedy because what they otherwise feel from the church is judgment, ostracization and exclusion. It is difficult for those generally estranged from the church to believe we truly share in their grief, since grief hinges on empathy and understanding—two things often missing from the relationship between the church and the LGBTQ community. Hearing this makes me really sad and is a hard perspective to confront.
As men pursuing Authentic Manhood – manhood modeled by Jesus Christ – can we learn from what we’re hearing from a segment of our society that says they don’t feel loved and cared for by the church, except maybe in a rare public tragedy that should upset anyone? Can we call each other up, as followers of Jesus and as part of His church, to love and show the same grace to others as He shows us despite our own brokenness?
Imagine how different the conversation would sound if the LGBTQ community felt the love, care and grace of Jesus from all of us who are pursuing Authentic Manhood. Imagine if they would let us, even want us to come alongside them in tragedy and be there to demonstrate the power of God’s grace in our differences and brokenness. Imagine what could be if each of us who are pursuing Authentic Manhood would reach out to someone in our own daily lives who is different from us, to share God’s grace with them as He shares it with us. I imagine if we, the church, if we as men pursuing Christ for Authentic Manhood, did a better job of sharing God’s grace despite our differences, the climate in the midst of this tragedy might feel very different. I imagine more doors would be open. I imagine if our care was better felt in everyday life, our care would be more welcomed in tragedy. The unconditional love and the amazing power of Jesus’s grace would be felt in a new way.
Maybe a good place to begin would be an apology—an apology from all of us who are following Jesus as the model of Authentic Manhood. He calls us to extend grace to others in the same way He offers it to us every day, in our own brokenness. Jen Hatmaker has written one of the best things I’ve seen about the current dynamics between the church and the LGBTQ community. She posted this powerful piece on Facebook, which is definitely worth considering in light of our desire to influence the world for Christ.