God Loves LGBT People, And So Do Christians

God loves you. And so do Christians.

It’s remarkable that this would even need to be said, but a quick internet search will reveal that most people who identify as LGBT don’t feel loved, especially not by Christians.

A whole swath of books have been published in the last ten years to explain why people under the age of 30 have increasingly negative views toward Christians. Along with being “hypocrites“, “judgemental“, and “too political“, the primary way Christians are increasingly perceived is “anti-homosexual”. Even among young Christians, that final label was the first criticism that came to their mind about their own faith. The simple fact is that even non-LGBT people don’t think Christians love LGBT people.

While it is true that some people who identify as Christian do hate LGBT people, most Christians do not.

To understand this, first you must realize that Christians are people too, just like gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender people. They have mixed feelings, make mistakes and have all the same imperfections as you. So, yes, they can be afraid, angry, prejudiced and even hateful, but, like you, they can also be very loving. Just like with “LGBT”, “Christian” is a label to describe something about yourself, but we’re all people underneath.

One of the reasons that LGBT people feel unloved by Christians is because there are many Christians who are “against homosexuality”, and when most LGBT people hear this, they hear “against homosexuals”.

Here’s why “homosexuality” and “homosexual” are not the same thing to these kind of Christians:

As any LGBT person knows, there are many straight people who do not see sexuality as a spectrum. This is simply because they never had to analyze their sexuality the way LGBT people were forced to. They are “normal” and what society expects, so there is no need to try to explore anything else. So, the same would obviously be true of many straight Christians.

They see straight as the default orientation and anything else as abnormal. This means that they think nothing causes someone to be straight, but something must cause someone not to be straight. Although the same biological processes that cause one orientation over another may be the same for straights as for gays, not everyone takes the time to consider this concept, so what may be obvious to you is not to everyone.

Think of it this way: Imagine you met someone with six fingers on each hand. Would you stop to think that the same biological process that made your fingers grow in the womb made their fingers grow, just differently? Or would you just think they’re “weird” and you’re “normal”? Now imagine being them. How do you think they use a fork? That’s right, the same way you do, with their hands. Would they think they’re abnormal or just be used to that being part of who they are? In the same way you felt that your sexuality or gender identity was just a normal part of you until you discovered you were “different” and had to come to accept that others were not like you, so did they. But did you make that connection at first? No? Then forgive those particular straight Christians for seeing you as “weird” and for not knowing LGBT people love the same way they do, with their hearts.

When someone sees straight as the default and everything else as abnormal, they can see “homosexuality” as different from “homosexual” because they see “homosexuality” as an action.

Although, for LGBT people, sexuality means being attracted to someone, thus making “homosexuality” simply an attraction to certain members of your own gender, people who see heterosexual as the default overlook that the difference between being gay and straight is who you are attracted to, and instead believe it’s an action. In fact, many of these kind of Christians believe people are not gay unless they have sex with someone of their own gender.

So, when they hear you are gay, they may tell you that is “a sinful lifestyle” because they think you live the “single male lifestyle” (“hook-ups”) but with guys instead of girls. That’s also how they can believe being gay is a choice.

This is where a lot of LGBT people hear the hate.

Christians are called by Jesus to love one another, but a popular approach to this is “love the sinner and hate the sin”. So, you may hear “Homosexuality is a sin, but God loves you anyway.” To you, this is akin to “Being left-handed is a sin, but God loves you anyway.” It says that being left-handed or homosexual is wrong, meaning something is wrong with a part of you and you should be ashamed. It almost sounds like God is granting you pity love because you’re not really loveable.

The thing is, many Christians don’t see it this way at all.

In Christianity, everyone is imperfect. Being imperfect, we can behave selfishly and hurt others. The label they use for this is “sinning”. So, when they say “you’re a sinner”, they just mean you’re imperfect, just like them. Those imperfections separate mortals from God and involve us living only for the things of this world.

The difference is that Christians believe their selfish actions are forgiven by Jesus. Depending on the denomination of Christianity, this can involve various steps, but most include “repenting” of your sins. That is, realizing what you are doing and at least having the desire to turn 180° away from it. And, in most, not doing this means you will not go to heaven and they will never see you again after this life or, worse yet, you will be tortured in a lake of fire for your sins.

So, when they say God loves you but not your sin, they are actually acting out of a desire to lead you down a path to salvation and eternal life that fits into their denomination’s teachings. From their perspective, letting you continue to live in sin would be the most unloving thing imaginable. It would be like seeing someone walking off a cliff and letting them. Sure, you may not think what they call a sin is wrong, but, if you believed it could separate you from the God that created you, you would be just as adamant if you cared about someone. Since no one is perfect, we all have an opportunity to better ourselves and they see one way for you to better yourself by avoiding sin.

So, really, they are acting out of love. It’s just that, being imperfect humans, things like pride and ignorance can come into play.

Think of it this way: You have encountered a lot of ignorant and hurtful comments from people. Have you ever felt defensive because of this? Christians are no different. They get called names and ridiculed for their beliefs and this can make them just as defensive. And, just as you may have developed a bias that Christians are mean or rude based on past encounters, they may have developed the same bias toward LGBT people because of past encounters. And, yes, LGBT people can and certainly do say hateful things too. We’re all only human and we have feelings that we don’t always act on in loving ways, but that doesn’t make us unloving or unlovable.

If some Christians believe LGBT people can’t form loving relationships with someone of their own gender or that someone’s gender must match their sex and you see that as prejudice, can’t you see how thinking Christians don’t love you could also be a prejudice? Our parents love us, but we don’t always see that in their actions until later.

Jesus, or Christ (hence Christianity), taught about loving others, even blessing those who curse you. Now, if being Christian meant following every teaching of Jesus without making any mistakes, Christians would put down their Bibles because they wouldn’t need a guide once they read it once. But they’re imperfect and need reminders and reassurance just like anyone else. Will they say or do something wrong? Yes, of course. But another teaching is forgiveness. They forgive others as God forgives them. This may be hard and not everyone is able to easily do this, but forgiveness is incredibly powerful. Forgiving someone who hurt you is not simply an act of generosity, but a way to let go of the hurt and no longer be a victim to the pain.

So, forgive any Christian who made you feel unloved. Odds are that wasn’t their goal.

And also realize that the God they believe in loves you. John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world…” and not “For God so loved the straight cisgender people…” There is an underlying message of love and hope in Christianity. Christians believe that, even when you are alone, you are not really alone because God is with you and loves you. In fact, 1 John says “God is love.” Do some messengers mix up the message? Of course. Haven’t you ever been upset when an LGBT person gave the whole group a bad name and made others stereotype you? The same is true of Christians.

And, since everyone’s different, even Christians disagree on a whole host of issues, from sin to salvation and everything between. So, just as you would want them to try to imagine things from your perspective, try to imagine things from theirs. Don’t expect to agree on everything, but listen anyway. There are LGBT-affirming Christians and even LGBT Christians, but there are also open-hearted people who think differently. If you support diversity, surely you can support this.