In the ancient Jewish book of wisdom Ecclesiastes, the teacher says that ‘there is a time for silence and there is a time to speak’. Somehow in situations like this, both feel very wrong. I know that the deeply flawed words of this blog may not bring the healing or justice so needed, but to remain silent when people are experiencing oppression is to commit violence against them. This is the only reason I feel I can permit myself to write this. There are many voices within the LGBTQ+ community that should be heard before mine, and I encourage you to seek those out, including this piece by Matthew Vines.
But what can we say in the wake of something so awful? What can we say that will do justice to those people? Forty-nine beautiful people. Each one with a heart and a mind, dreams and fears. With family, friends, perhaps even pets, but certainly with the potential to do something amazing. The loss of life is always a tragedy beyond such words, and in that sense there is no justice to be found in this. However, how we respond to this depends entirely on us. A lot of ink has been spilt about Omar Mateen’s motives, and ultimately we will never really know why he did what he did, but what we do know is this: that we are all capable of the most dreadful evil, but also that we are all capable of the most profound love. So let’s respond to this with what we know in our hearts is true:
In hell, and earth, and seas, and heaven above,
Love conquers all, and we must yield to Love.
- Virgil, Book X, line 69
SCM is in the fortunate position of being a welcoming place for young LGBT people to explore faith, and it is important we stand side by side with them now. Too many of these young people will be well acquainted with homophobia. Homelessness, imprisonment and suicide rates are disproportionately high in the LGBT community, and LGBT people around the world are regularly looked down upon, attacked, beaten and murdered for something they have no control over.
All too often this is our people, Christians and others of faith. To any LGBT people reading this: I am so sorry. But let me say this: your community has been blindsided by the tragedy of hatred. You may not know the people directly affected, but it’s okay to mourn. Despite its magnitude, this awful moment in history will feel deeply personal, so yes, it’s okay to mourn. Your community will never be the same. You will hurt because this is such a personal and yet universal attack on who you are, but you will recover. You will recover because you have the love of each other, and you will recover because you have the love of a God who can do nothing except love you exactly as you are.
So mourn, but do not be fearful because ‘there is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear’ (1 John 4:18)