Orlando: why we shouldn’t be surprised and why we have to make a change

I’m sure you, like me, are still reeling from the news yesterday. The deadliest mass shooting in American history occurred in Orlando late Saturday/early Sunday. At least fifty people were killed, with more than fifty injured. Senseless. Evil. An act of terrorism.

Interesting, that word, “terrorism.”  Terrorism is designed to terrify. So, when we give in to fear, when we play into our worst responses to blame and discriminate against whole groups of people, the terrorists win.

However, this isn’t a post about terrorism.

The who (the shooter) matters, but so does the where.
This happened at a nightclub patronized by LGBTQ individuals.
This was the targeting of a specific group of people, whom the shooter deemed to be undeserving of life. This is sad. This is tragic. This is evil.

But it isn’t isolated. Yesterday on the other side of the country, in California, a man found with assault weapons and bomb making materials was arrested on his way to an LA Pride event. The events were uncoordinated, but the trend is deeply disturbing.

Yet, it isn’t really a surprise, is it?

When we create a culture that dehumanizes a particular segment of the population, when we create a narrative that says, “those” people should be feared, when we blame terrorist attacks and natural disasters on a group of people, when we call God’s children “abominations” deserving of death, we can’t be surprised when someone acts on it.

This didn’t just happen on our watch.
We contributed to the conditions that led to it.
And we can do better.

So, to my LQBTQ friends, let me say this: I’m sorry. I’m sorry for the hatred you’ve experienced. I’m sorry for the way you’ve been made to feel unwelcome in your families, communities, and churches.I’m sorry that many of you who are deeply committed followers of Christ aren’t recognized as such. I’m sorry that you have been the target for abuse, misinformation, and mockery.  I’m just so, so, sorry. 

And to my fellow heterosexual, cisgendered Christian brothers and sisters: There are more than two billion Christians on the planet. That’s 31% of the planet. So, the idea that we will all come to a consensus on how we read the Bible–on this or any issue, really–seems a bit unlikely. So, even with the difference of opinion that exists, can we agree to be kind, considerate, and compassionate? Can we agree to honor the image of God in all people? Whether gay or straight? Christian, Muslim, or Atheist? Democrat or Republican? Can we act toward all people as if we were encountering Christ in and through them, because Jesus insists he meets us in the unlikeliest of ways? Can we choose to use language that doesn’t fuel hate and extremism? Can we speak our truths in love, as our Scriptures call us to?

We can’t stop every act of evil in the world. Of course not. But we can, by our efforts to seek understanding and show compassion, make a difference. We can bring about change. And the truth is, actual human lives–someone’s dad, daughter, brother, aunt, cousin, friend–are depending on it. 

2 thoughts on “Orlando: why we shouldn’t be surprised and why we have to make a change

    1. There is so much more going on here. 30% of LGBTQ teenagers attempt suicide by age 15. And suicide is the leading cause of death among LGBTQ youth. This is a larger problem, and mainstream Christianity hasn’t helped. If anything it’s exacerbated the problem all the while turning a blind eye. I am a Christian. Devout. And I want us to do better.


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