With profound apologies to Eckhart Tolle for modifying the title of his seminal work; one of the communities in our world today that needs most to hear a message of spirituality or religion is the community that is too often detested and feared by leaders of one-half of that combination. Those who could most benefit from a New Earth that recognizes the oneness of us all and the place that we have as Children of God on this Earth. But sadly, too many that claim to be religious hold open no loving or supporting place for the Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Transgendered, or Questioning person. That is one of the great crimes of our time and is only now showing true signs of being in its final throes.
Thankfully, the spiritual movement has long embraced the LGBT community and offered words and texts and ideas that have the potential to offer a great deal of comfort and inspiration to the millions of lesbian and gay and bi and transgendered people around the world longing for answers. And I have no desire to diminish the beauty and the hope behind the ideas and words of people like Wayne Dyer, and Anthony DeMello, and Eckhart Tolle.
However, from my own experience, the answers and words found in the spiritual movement do not meet entirely the demands of the aching soul—or a heart that needs to reconcile with a God that made a child in God’s Image—but so different from what seems to be the “norm”. For this hardest question, whose answer lies beyond spirituality in the realm of true faith—too often Spirituality(by itself) seems the equivalent of a Civil Union with faith. When what so many people need- in whatever form they find it—is a Marriage with faith—with the official and tradition, classic form, levels, dimensions, obligations, rights and responsibilities that the word marriage implies.
This is part of that fundamental quest that all who are different engage in—whether consciously or not. When you see so many in the world different from you, and the rest of the world sees you as different than them and that forms the crux of discrimination, exclusion, hate, and even murder—then the longing to know “why” becomes the central question. Why am I subjected to this? Why is life so hard for me? Why am I being punished?
I would offer that to understand that question of Why we are born gay or lesbian or transgendered or bi is the first and most central question of our lives. If we can not answer it—then we are left at a crossroads with no acceptable path forward. And, especially for a person who has faith as part of their life, the answer can not lie in any place but faith—no matter what your particular flavor is. For people of faith it is through that faith that purpose is found—commandments—directions—and understanding of our purpose on earth as well as the core of divinity and our eternity. To take those understandings and possibilities away—to remove the faith based core of a person for the simple reason of their orientation and to deny that all people, including those who are LGBT are children of God—casts the entire framework into doubt—forcing LGBT people to find themselves in a murky moral soup of “love the sinner, hate the sin” or some other bollocks. What if the sin is love? How can that possibly be reconciled?
The only pathway through the maze for faith based people—a way beyond the murky soup-- is in the belief that we are created in God’s image—to fulfill a divine purpose- despite our surface level differences. And when that is accepted as truth the door opens to all that is magical, wondrous, and miraculous in the human soul and a life divine. A person can then accept and understand, on the deepest personal level, their relationship with God. However, if left to stand in the intersection- or shut out of faith by door locked by a faith community in which you are not welcomed—for no other reason than who we have been made to be— then we are left to wander in that darkness of the self and of the soul without the guidance and support offered our "normal" brothers and sisters. Literally denied the gates to what provides meaning to so many people in this world- their faith.
Yes, we can find purpose in our community, in our job, in our friends—but ultimately, like the actor on a stage, we become so immersed in the outer world in which we find meaning, that the internal becomes a hollow shell--- who’s only relationship to the world is based on what surrounds it—not what comprises it.
Is it any wonder that some many Gay, Lesbian, Transgendered, BI and Questioning people exhibit extremes of personality traits which in moderation are healthy, but are destructive in excess? Is it any wonder that LGBT people engage far too often in self-destructive behaviors such as drug use, promiscuity, alcoholism, and, in the most extreme example, suicide?
Yes, it is obvious that each of these behaviors are self-destructive—but what if your sense of self has already become distant, damaged, or denied because of your efforts to play a role—too often the only way one may have to fit into society. Not able to find rest simply in one’s own identity, because of it being in opposition to the norm-- or the expectation? And then further being denied Grace and Peace because Eden's door remains firmly shut and doesn't not permit through the beauty of creation and the knowledge of being a loved by God simply because we are children of God. Not the false truth that we are loved only because we follow a certain pattern of normalcy, behave a certain way, say a certain prayer, or sleep with a person of the opposite sex.
So firmly shut is that door-- so dark the room- that members of the Lesbian, gay, Bi, and Transgendered Communities often perpetuate the darkness on their own brothers and sisters. Too often, those who are different within the community: out or in; successful or unsuccessful (whatever that means); those who are average in appearance; or not possessing of a six-pack are excluded or judged by their peers in the gay community even more harshly than they are by un-accepting or judgemental strangers. This begs the question- how can one respect the self of others, if their own self is not fully developed? In short, how can you love another if you do not first love yourself? This is, in essence, Maslow to the core—for how can we expect self actualization, the fifth step of human development, from those who are so often forced to remain in the lower steps of simple survival and identity?
Into this reality of spiritual vacuum religions of the world have a special place to step—if only they pay more attention to the words and works of Jesus and of God than to the dogma of institutions and Empire. To envelop people who are Gay, Lesbian, Bi, Transgendered or Questioning from an early age into a loving caring Christian family—or a Muslim Family—or a Buddhist family—would begin to allow a more successful development of the self—of the family—and of the community that we are all a part of. Doing so would begin to allow the LGBT community to, at least in some way, find its higher truer self—and live lives beyond the quest for finding meaning in a murky soup or in darkness behind a locked door that leads to the love of God.
It is for this reason that Religion is uniquely positioned to provide a path towards the answers that all people have need for and especially those of the LGBT Community. This has been the essential role of Religion in society for thousands of years—providing a sense of definition for the undefined and clarity in a world of fear, and violence and oppression. At its greatest moments—the greatest leaders of the church have served this purpose. From Martin Luther’s Reformation; to Martin Luther King’s Dream to the words of Mahatma Gandhi; Confucius; Buddha; and so many others-- Religion, at its highest calling, allows a person to look into their soul and see God looking back. What a wonderful experience for anyone—especially someone questioning why they came into existence at all and why, in the face of so much intolerance—their life has to be so painful.
Recently, at the church I attend, an infant was baptized as part of the Sunday service. In a portion of that baptism that brought tears to my eyes—the minister carried the child off of the stage into the pews and held him amongst all the attendees and asked “Do we accept this child?” It was a beautiful reminder of just what it means to be a part of a bigger family—a supportive family—a loving family and, in this example, a religious one. Maybe all newly out LGBT community members should be carried into the auditorium of the local gay center the same way—Maybe if we had the gifts of understanding the divine in all of us—we wouldn’t have to. For it would be assumed, understood and accepted from day one.
I could not help but wonder if the child happened to grow up and be a member of the LGBT community—what would the community think? How would they react? How would the parents, and the church and the uncles and cousins deal with their gay family member. Would it be better than it is now than it has been and is still in far too many places? My tears were because I had to nod “yes”—it will be better. Given the nature of my religious community I know the answer would be the same—“Yes- We still love you—we always have—for you are a child of God”. Thank God for that. Thank God for one loving church that supports all of God’s Children—and Thank God for all of the other faiths and churches out there that do the same.
I only wonder how long will it be until all churches and all religions realize that the power to love and heal is far more important—far more Christ-like—than the power of hate and condemnation. And that they offer such a unique and essential pathway to bring our Lesbian, Gay, Transgendered, Bi, Queer, and Questioning brothers and sisters the key to a locked door and the candle to light a way through and beyond the darkness and the questions into a place of oneness with the Creator.
I wish you all a Happy Easter and Happy Passover. God Bless You.