“I’ve learned in the many years I’ve known and made Him known is you do not preach people into belief; you love them to it”
When I tell people I’m a Bible-reading, church-attending, Hillsong-singing Born Again Christian, they ask me a number of things—one being what I think about homosexuals. In the years that I’ve been a professing and baptized Christian, I’ve seen and heard much from both ends of the spectrum.
We have gotten bad reputation time and time again, and rightly so. We take Bible passages out of context and use these words to exclude people and hinder them from ever knowing Christ. We passionately talk about love that is limited to what we understand, and we shut out the rest. We speak of the endless pool of grace while spewing hate with our signboards and Facebook posts. I am well-aware of the heartbreaking truth that Christians—the supposed vessel mirroring Christ on Earth—dissuade people from believing in Him. I’ve never forgotten the day I read Mahatma Gandhi’s timeless quote, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”
“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”—Mahatma Gandhi
See, the highest authority in my life is God and Scripture is His way of speaking to me—and you. But, believe me—as fully human as I am—this doesn’t stop me from doubting and questioning what I read. After all, you don’t get to genuine, bold faith by just following blindly. Still, I am aware of the fact that I wouldn’t need a God if I understood everything; these questions make me cling to Him more.
Let me tell you a quick story. For two days, I binge-watched eight episodes of the widely popular Netflix reboot, Queer Eye, featuring five exceptional gay men who are experts in their own fields and transform average Joes to their best selves. On the fifth episode, my personal favorite, I met Bobby Camp, a devoted husband and selfless father of six who works two jobs to pay the bills. He also happens to be Christian.
In an unforgettable exchange between the two Bobbys, designer Bobby reveals that he was raised in a religious and conservative household where they considered homosexuals “crazy,” so he did many things to counteract it like “praying the gay away.” The other Bobby shares a short but fully packed statement, “Maybe you think we’re judgmental, maybe you think we hate gays. That’s not us. God told me to love my neighbor.”
Before he is separated with the Fab 5, Bobby shares, “One of the things that we prayed about, we said we want to use this as an opportunity to open up our lives to other people. We want you guys to have come to our house and felt loved and accepted. Growing up the way we did, homosexuals were not accepted. And they still aren’t in a lot of church environments. But in the Camp family, they are. In our hearts, they are. And we want you guys to know that you’ve been loved here and you’ve taught me so much about loving somebody that’s come for a different background than me, that has a different worldview than me, that has a different story.” That changed me.
BOBBY CAMP, MY MASCARA IS RUNNING! ? pic.twitter.com/Bk24MjD3Ji
— Queer Eye (@QueerEye) February 18, 2018
And, isn’t this what God commands us to do—to love our neighbor, which overflows from our love for Him? Love wins. I mean it in every sense of what God-breathed, God-centered love is. There is no passage more popular than 1Corinthians 13:4-7, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” It is thrown around in every possible situation. But, what does it actually mean when you apply it to difficult situations that involve people whose opinions are different from your own? What does love look like to you?
“What does love look like to you?”
I’ve learned in the many years I’ve known and made Him known is you do not preach people into belief; you love them to it. If you advocate love that only benefits your religion, your socioeconomic background, your race, your sexual orientation and your gender, then that love does not come from God—the God who welcomes everyone into His presence. There is dignity placed in all of us deserving of honor and respect. This simply cannot be taken away by anyone.
In Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations with bestselling writer, Elizabeth Gilbert, she talks about faith, grace and calling. She leaves this etched in my heart, “If your spiritual practice doesn’t make it easier for you to be in the world, it’s not serving you.” Take this with you: Regardless of who you are, what you are, and what you believe in, there is love that welcomes you and says, “You belong here.”
Words Elisa Aquino
Art Alexandra Lara