I came across this picture again today, and it touched me so deeply that I wanted to cry. It was taken at a pride parade in Chicago several years ago, and you can read the original story here. To give you some context, a Christian group decided to hold a demonstration at the parade.
Not a protest. But an apology.
An apology for the way the church has treated the gay community. To say "I'm sorry" for the appalling treatment that many Christians have given the LGBTQ+ community for countless years.
This image is so beautiful to me, as it exactly portrays the way Jesus himself reached out to people during his time on this earth. In the face of profound heartbreak and unimaginable tragedy, I pray that each of us can set aside our differences and hard-won opinions and reflect love and compassion like this. That we would reach out to our LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters and hold them close, cry together, and stand side by side against hate.
This is no time for division or buzzwords or politics. This is a time for love and unity and light when our world seems its darkest.
Religious people never liked Jesus. They called him a drunkard and a glutton. They hated that he spent his precious time with prostitutes, women, the desperately ill, and marginalized people of all kinds. They didn't like that he got his hands dirty with society's "untouchables," literally reaching out with loving human contact to the flesh of rotting lepers. If Jesus was walking the earth today, you'd better believe he'd be hanging out in gay bars. And in brothels. And hospitals. And prisons. And hospices. And under bridges with the homeless. Jesus would be loving the hurting and seeking out the marginalized. I believe with all my heart that Jesus would be in Orlando today, tending wounds and wiping tears and weeping with those who weep.
As a Jesus-follower, I believe that each and every one of us is in exactly the same boat. We're all imperfect, we all have issues, and we all need love, grace, and forgiveness. I have no right whatsoever to judge anyone else. I've got my own junk to worry about. Isaiah 64:6 states that "all our righteous acts are like filthy rags." It's not possible to be good enough, and a bunch of rules are not getting anyone into heaven. None of us needs grace any less or more than anyone else. Matthew 7:4 "How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?"
So Christians, can we just drop the judgment already?
I mean, how dare we. Christians should be the most loving, selfless, forgiving, compassionate people on the planet. But we're not. And that breaks my heart. So get out there and start loving people, helping people, serving people. The church was never meant to hide out in a spotless building shining with stained glass just "reading the manual" while those outside the front door are hurting, starving, and in need.
And to the LGBTQ+ community: I'm sorry. It is wrong, appalling and NOT MY JESUS to be filled with such hatred and condemnation. You are our brothers and sisters and our hearts are shattered with you today. We hold space with you. We weep with you. There are no words.
There was a reason "religious people" and Jesus never got along; he wasn't one of them. Love and kindness and compassion for one another are the only things that will bring us together in the face of such darkness. "If we all light up we can scare away the dark." -- Passenger
Kimberly Poovey is a writer, speaker, wife, and over-caffeinated new mom. She runs a teen pregnancy prevention program for a nonprofit and is a founder of Pearls, an organization that serves women in the sex industry and fights human trafficking. You can find her over on Scary Mommy, The Mighty, her blog, and on Facebook.