You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. – Romans 2:1
Hey Beloveds, let’s chat.
As Pride month comes to an end, I’m having some feelings. Yesterday I got home from church camp with my daughters. It was their first time to experience our rustic little camp with outdoor worship, camp food in all its glory, and people of faith who I know will continue to encourage them to be who God created them to be, however that turns out. Our camp is in Yosemite, Kentucky, pronounced YO-SEE-MITE, and is one of those rural places with no cell signal. So we get a real immersive experience of being low tech.
So, naturally, on our way home, as I rode the bus with a bunch of cranky seven year olds, I began scrolling through the socials to catch up on what I missed over the weekend. And pretty quickly I noticed a few things.
Last week our church was featured on the local news because of our Pride Worship. I saw that the husband of one of the leaders of that worship service posted to brag on him. It reminded me of when I share something that I’m proud my husband Willie has done, like a music gig or farm product. But when I looked at the comments, someone had posted, “Two men married- 🤮🤮.”
Now, hopefully Shelia is just a robot and not a real girl, and typically I don’t bring attention to this kind of hate because I believe with all my heart what we give our attention to grows. But as I scrolled on to other posts, I found some other hateful comments based around Pride month and from people who are my friends, so I know they are real. I’m tempted to unfriend them because who needs that hate, but I am weary of a world where we can’t disagree civilly.
So God’s children, this is just a reminder that our words matter. When I read some of these posts they feel like a gut punch – not because they are about me, but because they are about my people. I’ve buried a transgender young person who took her own life. She was so much more than trans; she was a college student, a sister, a daughter, beloved by her family. There is no anguish like a mother who has lost her child, and I will never in my life forget that day.
Sort of like I’ll never forget the person who set up an appointment to meet with me after Pride last October. They told me their story. They had a successful career, a family and owned a home when they were sent to conversion therapy. There they worked at a factory for minimum wage, turned all those wages over to the conversion therapy facility and were eventually kicked out. They were required to speak with a counselor, and when they confessed they were struggling with a “temptation” they were expelled from the program.They were sent away with no money or cellphone and ended up homeless and had to rebuild their life from the ground up. I can’t in my wildest dreams imagine how this is the world God dreams of.
Sometimes people send me anonymous mail. Usually the contents are pretty hateful. And I give them approximately zero energy, except the one I keep for motivation. Is social media our new anonymous mail? Except we don’t even care enough about our words to make them anonymous?
The moment we begin to dehumanize someone unlike us, we have taken something essential from our own humanity. I think we might need to all take a look in the mirror and consider how our words can be used to hurt and how they can be used to heal.
This scripture from Romans tells us a little something about judgment. And the irony is that it comes right after the scripture that many Christians use to condemn the LGBTQ+ community. Paul writes to the Romans about sin, and ONE of the sins described is that women were with women and men were with men. He also condemns gossip and greed. Paul, who I think was mostly concerned with freedom in Christ, gets the majority of his notoriety for these verses and those that say women can’t be leaders in the church. If you are willing to take the slightest non-literal look at these scriptures, there may be more underneath the surface. But maybe the point isn’t for all of us to agree what they mean, but could we at least agree on how to disagree?
Romans 2:1 says, “Therefore you have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else.”
The other night I was at dinner with some friends. I am an extrovert to my core, and I said something that I immediately regretted once it came out of my mouth. It didn’t reflect my beliefs or who I am as a person. I messed up. And I immediately felt a pit in my stomach. I write this with that feeling in mind. None of us is above messing up – saying the wrong thing, posting something dumb, or messing up someone’s pronouns.
But could we try to do better? Could we consider that our words might have a harmful impact on someone else’s child? Could we focus on the part about not judging instead of deciding who is in and who is out? And if we don’t understand something, maybe we could be like Ted Lasso and try curiosity instead of judgment?
Because everybody is somebody’s kid. I know how I feel about my daughters, and though I don’t know how it’s possible, I think God cares about God’s kids even more. Our words matter, y’all. Let’s try to use them with care.
If know a local LGBTQ+ middle or high schooler who could use a safe space to build community and support – or if you’re an adult wanting to donate or volunteer or help continue building on this support network – BG Teen is an organization that meets at First Christian Church with the mission of providing safe space and programming where LGBTQ+ youth can show up and build community as their most authentic selves. Find out more at bgteen.org.