With the great many voices out there about the tragic murders at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, I was reluctant to add to the fray. On top of that, it seemed that the things I wanted to say had already been said, and even refuted. But as time went on, my desire to speak out stayed the same, so here I am.
Everyone seems quick to place blame, that's the first thing I notice. Which is understandable; finding people and things to blame in times like these helps us cope. It helps us to say "well at least it's not my fault". I've seen the Orlando Nightclub Shooting blamed on guns, Christianity, Islam, Obama, Trump, The Islamic State, and even on gays themselves. And I've seen people equally coming to the defense of all of them, explaining why their particular group or person is not to blame.
Well I have no doubt where the blame lies. The blame lies solely with the man who murdered 49 people a couple of nights ago. He chose to do what he did; it is absolutely his fault. (I avoid using his name, because even if not true in this case, often these acts are carried out with a desire for fame, and I will not give him that. I would rather remember the names Oscar Aracena, Juan Ramon Guerrero, Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, Tevin Eugene Crosby, Amanda Alvear, and the others who were killed.) So to me, blame isn't a question here; I know who is to blame.
But let's talk about responsibility. Maybe it's only an argument of semantics, but I think it's fair to say that there's a distinction. To me, responsibility, unlike blame, can refer to much more indirect actions that affect other things as a whole, often without our knowledge. Well I'm not a Muslim, or an Obama supporter, or a Trump supporter, or a homosexual; so I don't really feel equipped to discuss what responsibility may or may not lie with any of the above.
I am, however, a Christian. An evangelical, Bible-believing Christian at that. And as such, I do believe that it is my place to speak to what I see as the responsibility that Christians hold. I fully admit that I don't know the full motivations behind these murders. Maybe it was done purely as an Islamic Terrorist attack like the Boston Marathon Bombings. Or maybe it was done just because this man hated gay people, such as the murder of Matthew Shepard. Maybe it was a random act of pure evil. Likely, there's no easy answer or one simple cause. However, I am not willing to dismiss the fact that those murdered were part of the gay community, a community that has a history of being trampled upon by our society and by my religion.
I do not believe that we can use terms like "The Rainbow Jihad" and "The LGBT Agenda", and then be completely surprised when a person comes to hate gays to such a degree as to do this. I don't think it is reasonable to deny a gay person the right to marry the person they love or to adopt children, and then expect people to still view them with all the humanity that people in general have. When we say that the correct stance for a Christian to take is to stand on and trample on a rainbow flag like pastor Douglas Wilson did, we shouldn't be surprised when someone out there comes to think that gays are not worthy to live. We use terms like "gross" and "disgusting" and "makes me want to throw up" to refer to homosexuality. And then we claim that we are only saying it because it is a sin. And yet I can't remember the last time a Christian used those words to refer to a man cheating on his wife with another woman, or to refer to a person who simply doesn't accept Christ as Lord and Savior (which, according to The Bible and evangelical teachings, is much worse than any other sin, it's the only sin that cannot be forgiven by the saving power of Christ).
Homosexuality has a stigma in our society. In many, if not all societies really, but I'm sticking with America here. It's getting better, sure, but not without a fight. As Christians, we have contributed to this stigma. We have done so in the name of Christ, and in the name of Love. We have said (truthfully) that pointing out sin in someone is loving. But we have done so in a way that has contributed to a group of people being marginalized and hated. We have done so in a way that has dehumanized them; has robbed them of their rights as both citizens of this country and as members of the human race. We have made them hide who they are, in fear of reprisal even from their families.
So I'm not saying to stop preaching the gospel. We should do so, and do so boldly. I'm not saying to change your beliefs or suddenly think that sin is ok. But I am saying to treat all sinners equally. To not take one group of sinners and say that they are less than human. To stop helping to create a world where a group of people are referred to as "disgusting", while so many other sins are given a pass. As evangelical Christians, let's take responsibility. Not because we are to blame. Not because it is our fault. But because maybe, just maybe, our words and actions have helped to create the mindset that caused the deaths of 49 people.