Those who condemn others are not true followers of Christ

Pastor David Armstrong-Reimer
April 30, 2021

Dear K,

I do not know you, but last week I saw the letter that you received from your former church, stating that they “have no alternative but to withdraw [their] fellowship with you and must no longer treat you as a sister in Christ,” because of your “apparent lack of willingness to repent” from your same-sex relationship.

I do not know you, but you already know that you do not need to repent from this. God has blessed you with your relationship, and I pray that your love with your partner will continue to grow as you ground yourself in the love from God and in the love that is God.

I do not know you, but I want you to know that your former church does not represent the Body of Christ. It does not represent the God who lived in Jesus and calls us to follow in the way of Jesus. Find a church – and there are many of us – that proclaims the God of grace and who calls us to live in the way of grace. Find a church – and there are many of us – who proclaim that we are all created in the image of God, that God created us just as we are, that our differences are to be celebrated and not to be judged.

I do not know you, but I know too many who – like you – have been hurt by the church, judged by those who supposedly follow Christ. I know too many who have turned away from the church because they have associated these pseudo-followers with those who seek to truly follow Jesus.

How I wish that those who condemned you, who take three scattered statements of Paul and turn them into a condemnation of my LGBTQ brothers and sisters, would look again at the life of Jesus. How I wish that they would hear Jesus say to those who would cast stones at the adulterer: “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:7) How I wish that they would look at Jesus who touched lepers, hung out with prostitutes and tax collectors, and spoke to the woman at the well. How I wish that they would see that the only ones that Jesus condemned were those who were so quick to judge and condemn others.

How I wish that those who condemned you, who would take pieces of the Levitical law and seek to call my LGBTQ brothers and sisters “abominations,” would read Acts 10. There, Peter receives a vision three times from God of a tent full of animals that the same Levitical law declared as unclean. Three times Peter hears the command, “Get up, Peter; kill and eat.” When he refuses, citing the law, a voice from heaven declares, “What God has made clean, you must not call profane.” (Acts 10:16) When a Roman centurion sends a messenger to Peter so that he might hear about the God of Jesus, Peter understands that the vision is about the people we must not condemn.

I hear the voice from heaven calling to us once again that God has declared my LGBTQ brothers and sisters as clean and that I must not call them profane.

And how I wish that those who condemned you, who twist the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah into a condemnation of homosexuality, would look again at that account. Sodom and Gomorrah are condemned for their injustice (Ezekiel 16:49). The men of Sodom sought to rape the angelic visitors and treat them as the enemy. It is not about homosexuality. It is about violating hospitality and treating visitors as enemies, as less than human.

Do those who condemn you hear that? My LGBTQ brothers and sisters are not Sodom and Gomorrah. They – and too often the church – are Sodom and Gomorrah, treating you and my LGBTQ brothers and sisters as the enemy and as less than human.

K, I do not know you, but thank you for sharing your letter. I pray that you will find a church that will accept you and your partner for the wonderful children of God that you are. I pray that you will find a gathering that will celebrate your love and grow from your love, until that day that we are all joined together as one family of God.

 David Armstrong-Reiner is pastor at Epiphany Lutheran Church, 2375 Ga. Highway 20 in Conyers. Contact him at pastor.david@conyerselc.org.

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