Author and writer, Suzanne DeWitt Hall, like many of us raised in deeply religious homes, did not easily accept her place in the gay world. Bound by social norms, heterosexual marriage and children, Suzanne dutifully followed the script of her Catholic faith. Her marriage fell apart anyway. Suzanne went on a quest to figure out what went wrong, and what her faith truly meant.
To convolute matters further, Diane, a Baptist woman, struggling to save her own marriage, showed up at Suzanne’s church. Together, these women of faith prayed for their husbands and their families, searched the Scriptures, cried together, laughed together. And fell in love. Hardly a Disney fairytale. But it was indeed, their fairytale.
Suzanne became an unlikely, but unique advocate for the gay community and people of faith. Her creative, and sometimes provocative perspective has ignited unintentional fires. Declaring Jesus as the first transgender man induced personal death threats, and calls for a “Charlie Hebdo” style attack on the HuffPost headquarters. Yet, she persisted.
Suzanne’s unequivocal, unapologetic message that God loves everyone isn’t just a meme, or a book-marketing gimmick. She’s committed to making sure everyone gets it. Whether it’s through the subtleties of her children’s books, Rumplepimple, the dog with two moms, or the overtly titled devotional, Where True Love Is, Suzanne is on a mission to tell those who have been disenfranchised by religion that God accepts and loves them. Unconditionally.
It goes without saying that many in the LGBTQ+ community have been burned by religion. We’ve been thrown out of churches, embarrassed by those we called friends, and disowned by family members. Some of us have simply given up on church altogether. Others still feel a deep sense of obligation and practice privately, or struggle to figure out a way to reconnect with the faith of their youth.
Suzanne has heard those stories, too, and masterfully and compassionately provides “a place for every LGBTQ+ individual who fears God can’t love them just the way they are.”
In the conservative Christian world there are absolutes, theological truths grounded in ideological clay, substantiating unsubstantial dogmas. Extremist doctrines are geared toward elevating practice over people, and the outcome has produced centuries of exclusion, torture, witch-hunts, and fear.
In WhereTrue Love Is, Suzanne begins with people, God’s original intention, as she sees it. She dismantles the doctrines of hate by re-examining biblical passages in light of scientifically established diversity. “Demanding that God works only in [gender] binaries isn’t merely sad, it also flies in the face of actual facts,” she says.
Suzanne asks, “Who is God?” and “What is the Bible?” These two concepts are often taken for granted among the religious. In light of a people-centric perspective, however, Suzanne offers the foundations for an inclusive, loving, and life-giving Gospel. She, like the Jesus she believes in, challenges the establishment to look more closely at God’s purpose. If God is love, then what do the Scriptures truly teach about the way He sees people, and what message is the Bible really trying to convey?
Suzanne’s message to the LGBTQ+ community, regardless of their religious affiliation, boils down to this, as she says in the book:
“Know you are fearfully and wonderfully made, just as you are. Know you cannot hide who you are from God, nor do you need to. He doesn’t want you to. He is holding you even when you are in darkness, and all your days are written in his book.”
Where True Love Is is available from booksellers now.