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Monday, March 16, 2015

Passages of Hope, Comfort, and Love

            In the GSM (Gender and Sexual Minority) community, the Bible has become seen as a weapon. What was intended to be a book of history, encouragement, and love of God has instead become a tool of oppression and excuses. However, it doesn’t need to be. Now, there are certainly parts of the Bible that are horrifying to read, and I won’t sugar coat that. We see the problems of man, the oppression, the excuses, and abuse of God as an excuse to commit atrocities. There are also passages of encouragement and love. The purpose of this post is to discuss the passages that have helped me through tough times, especially reconciling Christianity with my sexual orientation and gender identity.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13: 34-35
It seems almost strange for a command to be comforting, but it is such a radical command. We are not told we are followers if we enforce rules, if we yell at people, if we persecute them. We are told that we will be known as followers of Christ if we love. Love of one another, love of everyone. Harshness and discrimination are not compatible with Christ.

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1-2
The purpose of Christ is not to condemn us. His purpose is not to force us into submission with laws and regulations. Like harshness and discrimination, condemnation has no place with followers of Christ.

“that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” 2 Corinthians 5:19
The wording of this passage is extremely important. It does not say “reconciling if” or “reconciling some people.” It doesn’t say “reconciling cis heterosexual people that did these specific things.” God is reconciling the world. God is pretty unambiguous, She doesn’t leave room for exceptions. No one is left out, no one is not reconciled, no one is unloved.

“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28
I always found the wording of this passage strange. It says “neither… nor” twice. The third time, however, is very different. “Nor is there male and female.” It’s almost as if to emphasize something, as though there is something special going across genders. Obviously just speculation, but part of me likes to think that it is emphasizing gender and sexual equality. If anything, it’s a nice thought at least.

“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:8
This is by far my favorite of them all. It isn’t simply saying love is a virtue, or love is a command, it is directly related to God. Love is a divine aspect. To love is to come in contact with God. It makes me think there may be truth to the line from Les Miserables “To love another person is to see the face of God.”

I always liked connecting this concept to the Orthodox concept of Theosis, the process of becoming united with or like God. If God is love, then we must love in order to become closer with God. “The greatest of these is Love.”

Edit:

As per the recommendation of a minister friend, I'm gonna add her comment as well

Genesis 1:27. "So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them." The Hebrew is actually more likely translated "from male to female he created them," indicating an understanding of gender created and existing on a spectrum instead of a strict binary.

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