Thursday, February 5, 2015

We Are Equal

I am proud to be a citizen of the USA and the state of Alabama.

For my international readers who may not be familiar with Alabama, it is considered to be one of the most conservative states politically and religiously in the United States.

There are many wonderful aspects of my home state.

For the most part, people are caring, honest, and sincere.

Many folks are taught to respect their elders and to offer a helping hand to a neighbor in need.
There are ministries and churches all over the state who will give you food if you are hungry or help you find a place to stay if you are homeless.

In this state you could be in the middle of the bread aisle at the grocery store and receive prayers from a perfect stranger if you look like you need an encouraging word.

A state full of Christians is a wonderful place to live, right?

Well, it is if you fit their interpretation of what a Christian looks like.

You see, folks here have deep rooted and genuine beliefs concerning their faith that have been handed down from generation to generation.
Veering from these doctrines is considered dangerous.
Even asking questions about certain beliefs is considered blasphemous to many people.

The majority of Christians in this state believe that everyone should live life based on a strict fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible.

One of the basic tenants of their beliefs is that God doesn't create people to be gay.

Most of these folks think that being gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, or transgender is a choice that people make in some type of rebellion towards God.

This isn't just an assumption on my part.  
I know this because of years of conversations with fellow Alabamians ranging from perfect strangers, to close friends, and even with family members.

But get this....I used to believe this too!

Growing up gay in Alabama isn't easy for anyone.
Growing up gay in Alabama as part of the Pentecostal Church was excruciatingly painful.

From my earliest memories I heard sermons from the pulpit detailing the abomination that is homosexuality.
I once heard an evangelist use the term "faggots" to describe gay men while he was preaching.

Pastors taught of how the gays and lesbians were perverts who desired to recruit children to add to their population so they could one day take over the government, the country, and the world.

As a teenager coping with my feelings of attraction to the same sex, I sat in church week after week terrified that I was going to burn in hell.
Somehow I had chosen this path of rebellion towards God.

Since God didn't create gay people then I must have made this decision and unless I changed my desires I would never be loved by God.

While I respect a person's sincere religious beliefs, reconciling the fact that I am gay versus their desire for everyone to be straight had been a challenge my entire life.

When you hear the same message over and over again, you start to see it as truth.

It wasn't until my early thirties that I finally found out the real truth.
At 33 years old I found myself sitting in church knowing that the rumors of me being gay had finally reached the senior pastor himself.
On a Sunday morning in front of the entire congregation he looked at me, pointed, and said, "You cannot be gay and a Christian. Oil and water do not mix. You Will Burn In Hell!"
I left the service that day and that church broken but not destroyed.
When I got to my prayer closet I begged God to either change me into a straight person (a prayer I had prayed thousands of times before) or to show me the real Truth to combat what I had been taught my whole life.
This began a period of study and meditation like I had never experienced before.
I was hungry and thirsty to know what my father God really thought about me!
After many months, I came through that period closer to God then I had ever been before and with a clear understanding of what is real and what is false.

Here is The Truth:
God Created You just the way You Are!  "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart,"- Jeremiah 1:5 (NIV)
God Loves You and Nothing can change that! "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor ANYTHING ELSE in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."- Romans 8:38-39 (NIV)
God Accepts You for who you are! "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
Once God revealed these truths to me I found a new Peace deep down in my being.
I finally knew without a shadow of a doubt that He Loves Me!
I realized that I am not a mistake.
I am not an abomination!
I am lovingly and beautifully made with a purpose and a calling to spread His Unconditional Love to ALL People who will listen!
And my friends, SO ARE YOU!
If you ever feel the way I used to and wonder about what the truth really is, pray and meditate on the scriptures above!
Know deep down that God Created You, God Loves You, and God Accepts You!
During this time when lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender people are fighting for equal rights around the world you will undoubtedly hear hate filled remarks thrown at you or your community.
No matter what the root of these remarks are, based on misguided religious teachings or stem from basic evil prejudice, don't let their words shake you.
Deep down in your spirit know that before the world offers us equal rights, you are already equal in God's eyes!
Never let anyone make you feel like a second class citizen because the same God who formed the universe formed YOU in HIS Image!
Those that society considers the outcasts and the least of these are raised up in God's eyes!

In Matthew 20:16 Jesus tells us, "The Last will be First and the First will be Last."

Jesus LOVES those that the "main stream church" despises!
We are HIS kind of people!
Jesus tells us in the Sermon on the Mount, "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you"- Matthew 5:11-12 (NIV)
Through this sermon above Jesus is telling us that people will say horrible and evil things in His name but we will see a great reward in Heaven.
We may face persecution but so did He.
He prevailed over persecution and injustice so that we can live freely, joyfully, and EQUALLY!
In His eyes, we are all precious.
To Him, We Are Already Equal!
As always, remember:
God Created You!
God Loves You!
God Accepts You!
Until Next Time,