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October 12th, 2010
07:30 AM ET

My Take: People of faith must preach love in the face of anti-LGBT hate

Editor's Note: The Rev. Rebecca Voelkel is the Faith Work Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

By Rev. Rebecca Voelkel , Special to CNN

Before he committed suicide, a high school friend of mine wrote pages and pages in his journal about his turmoil and struggle with his church’s teaching that he, as a gay man, was sick, sinful and an abomination. Finally, it was simply too much for his 15-year-old soul to endure.

His experience has been writ large in recent weeks as we’ve seen a national spate of suicides caused by bullying - in school and church.

We’ve seen brutal attacks on gay men in New York City, while New York Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino verbally attacked the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community with divisive, hateful remarks. Threats to LGBT people have become an epidemic.

As a pastor who claims the life and ministry of Jesus as her model, I need to say that this is simply unacceptable. Preaching hate from our pulpits, in our politics, or to our pupils is never acceptable. It literally endangers lives. And the life and ministry of Jesus always stands against that which hates, hurts or destroys.

Last weekend, at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s Believe Out Loud Power Summit in Orlando, Fla., more than 300 Christian leaders gathered to stand against this kind of violence and to proclaim the extravagant welcome and inclusive justice of the gospel.

Through worship, Bible study and teaching, participants affirmed a vision - rooted in Jesus’ life and ministry - of a church whose primary mission is proclaiming God’s love for all people, and a practicing justice that is specific, particular and concrete. Participants prepared themselves for action within their churches and society. This includes:

• Creating a church that ordains all who have a call and a commitment to ministry.

• Building a church in which all the sacraments are for all the baptized.

• Embodying a church that celebrates love — in all its forms — including in blessing the marriages of same-sex couples.

• Being a church that advocates tirelessly for the human and civil rights of all people — including for housing, employment, health care, immigration and marriage equality.

We strive for these goals because Jesus calls us to enter into real people’s lives and show God’s love in real ways. That can literally save lives.

About a year ago, a United Methodist pastor in Florida made the courageous decision to proclaim God’s specific and concrete love for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. And he got a lot of negative pushback. But he persisted, because he knew this persistent love is what he is called by God to do.

Last week, a young man from his congregation who had left for college called and asked him for a meeting. When they finally sat down, the young man said to him, “I am a gay man and I’m alive today because of you.” That is the power of the life-saving gospel of Christ.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Rebecca Voelkel.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Gay rights • Homosexuality

soundoff (162 Responses)
  1. lordkid

    Those of you who do not know JESUS CHRIST as your personal LORD and SAVIOR, and OBEY HIM will go to HELL. In HELL GOD said, you shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. REVELATION 20:10.

    October 12, 2010 at 8:09 pm |
    • Trell

      Ahh, little nasty troll, what big words you have!

      October 13, 2010 at 2:31 am |
  2. Robert Hagedorn

    Anal sodomy? For a really big surprise, google The First Scandal Adam and Eve. Then click once or twice to get the surprise.

    October 12, 2010 at 8:03 pm |
  3. lordkid

    raison my job with you is done.

    October 12, 2010 at 7:52 pm |
  4. Raison

    lordkid, where is the peace in your heart? No Jesus in there? No forgiving? Then you are no Christian.

    I rebuke thee in the name of Jesus Christ again, for you have gone off the fcking deep end.
    Wouldn't you rather have fun playing with your friends outside? Or did you curse them, too?
    I will continue to rebuke thee, if thou continueth in this nonsense.

    October 12, 2010 at 7:49 pm |
  5. lordkid

    juan GOD have given his children the right to judge. 1 CORINTHIAN 2:15-16, He said us Saints shall judge world the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? 1 COR 6:2-4.

    October 12, 2010 at 7:30 pm |
    • NL

      Hmmm... yet another contradiction, eh boys?

      October 12, 2010 at 11:27 pm |
    • Mike

      juan 1 cor 2:15-16 is taken out of context. Paul is refering to discernment of the spiritual man vs the natural man. And with out the spirital things can not be discerned, as you can see clearly in these comment blogs.

      October 13, 2010 at 11:57 am |
  6. Juan

    Thank you CNN for giving a LGBT activist a platform to push her agenda!

    October 12, 2010 at 7:23 pm |
  7. Juan

    lordkid, judge not lest ye be judged.

    October 12, 2010 at 7:18 pm |
  8. Juan

    If the author is going to pick and choose the parts of the Bible she believes in, then it is not the Bible she believes in but herself.

    October 12, 2010 at 6:48 pm |
    • NL

      Show me a believer who doesn't pick and choose.

      October 12, 2010 at 6:55 pm |
    • Juan

      Picking and choosing is one thing. Interpreting is another. Many of us don't pick and choose. We accept, but understanding is based on interpretation resulting in differing points of view. They aren't all correct because none of us are perfect. Picking and choosing isn't about interpretation, it's about ignoring what you don't like.

      October 12, 2010 at 7:02 pm |
    • NL

      Juan-
      You don't pick and choose, eh? So how do you account for the many contradictions found within the Bible like

      EXO 15:3 The LORD is a man of war: the LORD is his name.
      vs.
      ROM 15:33 Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.
      ...
      JOH 10:30 I and my Father are one.
      vs.
      JOH 14:28 Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I.
      ...
      PSA 92:12: "The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree."
      vs.
      ISA 57:1: "The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart."
      ...
      Were Jesus' last words
      MAT 27:46,50: "And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, eli, lama sabachthani?" that is to say, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" ...Jesus, when he cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost."
      or
      LUK 23:46: "And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, "Father, unto thy hands I commend my spirit:" and having said thus, he gave up the ghost."
      or
      JOH 19:30: "When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, "It is finished:" and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost."
      ...
      NUM 12:3: "Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the fact of the earth."
      vs.
      NUM 31:14, 17, 18: "And Moses was wroth...And Moses said unto them, "Have ye saved all the women alive? ... Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman, ... But all the women children ... keep alive for yourselves."
      ...
      PRO 4:7 Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.
      vs.
      ECC 1:18 For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.
      vs.
      1CO 1:19: "For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent."
      ...
      Is God this?
      "I will not pity, nor spare, nor have mercy, but destroy." (JER 13:14) "Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not, but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling."

      or this?

      "The Lord is very pitiful and of tender mercy." (JAS 5:11)
      "For his mercy endureth forever." (1CH 16:34)
      "The Lord is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works." (PSA 145:9)
      "God is love." (1JO 4:16)
      ...
      Was this how Judas died?
      "And he cast down the pieces of silver into the temple and departed, and went out and hanged himself." (MAT 27:5)
      or this?
      "And falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all of his bowels gushed out." (ACT 1:18)

      And many, many others.

      October 12, 2010 at 11:25 pm |
    • Mike

      NL
      EXO 15:3 The LORD is a man of war: the LORD is his name.
      vs.
      ROM 15:33 Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.
      Any statement taken out of context can be miscontrued, and set at odds with another context liberated statement. Thus, consider the context of Exodus 15:3. After 400 years of captivity in the land of Egypt, the Lord delivered His people by His servant Moses. As the Israelites departed, the Egyptians pursued. All of God's people having safely passed through the Red Sea on dry ground, the Lord caused the waters of the sea to crash upon the Pharaoh's armies, destroying them. Thus, Moses and the children of Israel broke out in song, glorifying the God of their salvation. As they sang, they declared, "...The LORD is a man of war: the LORD is his name."
      In Romans 15:33, Paul speaks of "...the God of peace..." He is able to effectuate peace between men of different nations (Colossians 1:20-22; Romans 5:1). He has provided the means by which man can have peace with God (Ephesians 2:13-16). So great is His peace, that it "...surpasses all understanding..." (Philippians 4:7).
      Moses saw God as "...a man of war...", having been witness to the deliverence of God's people from the Egyptians. Paul proclaimed Him to be "...the God of peace...", mindful of the reconciliaton which He bestows through Christ Jesus. Two entirely different perspectives of the Lord, but both 100 % correct.
      There is no contradiction.

      curtosy of LookinguntoJesus.net

      October 13, 2010 at 11:45 am |
    • Mike

      JOH 10:30 I and my Father are one.
      vs.
      JOH 14:28 Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I.
      ...
      http://thedaystar.webs.com/revelation/isjesusgod.html

      October 13, 2010 at 11:46 am |
    • Mike

      Let us look at the passages in question:

      Ecclesiastes 9:2
      All things come alike to all: One event happens to the righteous and the wicked; to the good, the clean, and the unclean; to him who sacrifices and him who does not sacrifice. As is the good, so is the sinner; he who takes an oath as he who fears an oath.

      Isaiah 57:1
      The righteous perishes, and no man takes it to heart; merciful men are taken away, while no one considers that the righteous is taken away from evil.

      Psalms 92:12-13
      The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those who are planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God.

      First, it appears that the questioner has a specific idea of what it means to flourish. The word flourish could apply to numerous areas of life: material wealth, health, long life, spiritual maturity, etc.. It certainly seem likely that such a statement, made about the people of God would have some fulfillment in spiritual service before the Lord.

      If the questioner had read further in the text of Ecclesiastes 9, the statement would have been found in verse 11, "The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favor to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all." Solomon has acknowledged through the chapter that good or bad may happen to one in this life without partiality. Notice though, just prior to entering this discussion of one thing happening to all alike, the writer declared, "Though a sinner does evil a hundred times, and his days are prolonged, yet I surely know that it will be well with those who fear God, who fear before Him. But it will not be well with the wicked; nor will he prolong his days, which are as a shadow, because he does not fear before God." (Ecclesiastes 8:12-13). Does that not ring similarly to "...the righteous shall flourish..."?

      It appears the questioner failed to understand the Isaiah 57:1 text. The righteous perish in body, which is not given much thought among the peoples of the world; but their end is much greater than their former state. They are "...taken away form evil." The Psalmist records, "Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints." (Psalm 116:15). The child of God receives rest when death comes. The righteous are brought closer to their eternal reward and to their great God.

      There is no contradiction

      October 13, 2010 at 11:47 am |
    • Mike

      It is not necessary for each writer to record every occurrence and every word spoken by the Lord. If such were the case, we would have four gospel accounts identical in every respect. Each man wrote according to what he saw and heard, or what had been revealed to him by the Spirit of God. Now, to the supposed contradiction.

      None of the writers declares, "THIS IS THE LAST THING JESUS SAID!" Consider a possible chronology:
      – 1 – Jesus cries out, "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken Me?" (Matthew 27:46). Some who are nearby bring a spunge with vinegar in it to him (Matthew 27:48; John 19:29).
      – 2 – Jesus cries with a loud voice (Matthew 27:50; Luke 23:46; John 19:30). It is quite possible the "...loud voice..." cry Matthew and Luke mention is the "It is finished!" recorded by John.
      – 3 – After the cry in a loud voice (ref. # 2), all three writers record that Jesus yielded up his spirit (Matthew 27:50; Luke 23:46; John 19:30). Luke records some final words, "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit", perhaps words spoken under his breath at the moment of his death.

      So, do Luke 23:46 and John 19:30 contradict? I do not believe so. John recorded what he heard the Lord say on the cross. The words, "It is finished" appear to have been cried out loud and clear (Matthew 27:50; Luke 23:46). The words recorded by Luke were very possibly inaudible or unheard by John. They appear to have accompanied the very moment of his death.

      There is no contradiction.

      I will add that free quoting in the Greek language does not make it false. If a friend says "I will be there in a minute after eating dinner" and some one ask me where is my friend "He's eating dinner and will be here in a minute" is not a lie. It is free quoting.

      October 13, 2010 at 11:50 am |
    • Mike

      The questioner falsely assumes that one who is identified as being meek is unable to exercise righteous indignation. Jesus described Himself as being meek (Matthew 11:29), and yet we see Him overturning tables in the temple (Matthew 21:12) on account of the wickedness of the people.

      If the questioner would consider the context of the statements he gleaned from Numbers 31, he would realize that the people of God had preserved the lives of those who had caused Isarel to commit harlotry and idolatry (v 16). Thus, Moses commanded that they be destroyed, along with the males among them, except the virgin girls. Moses entreated the people to fulfill that which was commanded by God (Numbers 25:16-18).

      If the meek servant of the Lord does not become enraged with wickedness, he becomes an idle by-stander and a partaker in the wickedness by his inaction.

      There is no contradiction.

      October 13, 2010 at 11:52 am |
    • Todd

      To NL: I do believe you are an informed person, but I would say you are not taking those scriptures within the context they are written. Anyone can find contradictions if they read a simple sentence and not the context in which something is written, regardless if it is scripture, famous person quotes, etc. Another point that needs to be brought up is that there are many sides to the truth. Not that opposites are true, but that there are many sides to truth. For example, if I gave you a quarter, and all you saw was the heads side of a quarter, and I handed you back a quarter on the tail side, you would be screaming that it isnt a quarter. However, in reality it is, you just never saw a quarter from that side before.

      I hope this adds some depth to the discussion.

      October 13, 2010 at 3:18 pm |
  9. lordkid

    GOD is using me and you to show other christian how it is done. The curse you have just received, will do its thing in due time..My job is done...

    October 12, 2010 at 6:48 pm |
    • Raison

      @lordkid

      LOL
      I'm rubber, you're glue – it bounces off me and sticks to YOU!
      LOL

      October 12, 2010 at 6:51 pm |
    • NL

      Exodus 20:7

      October 12, 2010 at 6:53 pm |
    • Raison

      @lordkid

      I rebuke thee in the name of Jesus Christ also. But I am not the pizza delivery boy for Satan. I forgive you your trespasses.
      (a modified rubber / glue statement for you!)
      😀

      October 12, 2010 at 7:23 pm |
    • Raison

      @lordkid

      And I see no proof that God is using you to show us "how it is done". If anything, you seem more like a Satanist, seeking to harm others and cursing them according to your own lights.

      Did God tell you to curse a person who goes by the name "Raison"? Do you like having such a close relationship with Satan?

      Your delusions have you bound hand and feet. You are a slave to the words of other men. You have no authority to curse me or anyone else. But if your thinking that "your job is done" makes you stay away from here, well, I'm all for that...!

      I can turn the other cheek without being wrapped up in your vile ranting belief system.
      Can you do anything like that?

      I suggest you give it a try. To curse is to attempt an evil thing. I am not scared of your silly curse. Reality is far worse than any curse. Things could be worse but they could be better. Why not pray for me instead of cursing me? Jesus!

      To do evil is evil, no matter what your intention or goal. If God exists and he is good, then evil remains evil.
      Your curse cannot touch me, for it is nothing but an evil intention. You would be more effective if you did something physical to me.

      Come on over and spew your filth and hate if you like. I don't have much else to do.
      I'll let you run out of steam and give you a hug, k? Get fcking grip and quit being so butthurt. God did not make you Jesus.

      October 12, 2010 at 7:43 pm |
  10. lordkid

    You will see in due time GOD don't like to be tempted. Once He get a whole of you i promise you, your life will never be the same. RAISON in the name of JESUS CHRIST I rebuke you and deliver you over to satan for the destruction of your flesh for troubling me.

    October 12, 2010 at 6:41 pm |
    • Raison

      @lordkid

      Still waiting....and being the delivery boy for "satan" doesn't make you look too good, I must say...

      October 12, 2010 at 6:43 pm |
  11. lordkid

    Because GOD is no joke. And he don't play. Dead and hell is real. Nothing to play with. He hate SIN. People die and suffer because of it right now as I speak. That is nothing to joke about.

    October 12, 2010 at 6:29 pm |
    • Raison

      @lordkid

      Show me this POWER and AUTHORITY you say you have RIGHT FCKING NOW!

      October 12, 2010 at 6:36 pm |
  12. lordkid

    Oh and by the way, i am not upset, GOD has given me and all true christian POWER and AUTHORITY over everything and everyone. 1 COR 3:21-23. I am just dealing with that demonic spirit in you all. LUKE 10:19-20. We true christian really don't have to put up with anything we don't want to. I tried to help you all, but all you all want to do is be contentious. We christian don't have to take it and we won't, this is a new day. GOD promise us blessing and curses, guess which one you all received. Remember i don't get angry, GOD has taught me words to use for you or against you. If he gave satan power, believe me, he gives his true believer [his children] more power. Plus he fight for his children.

    October 12, 2010 at 6:23 pm |
    • Raison

      *sigh*

      October 12, 2010 at 6:34 pm |
    • Respondez

      lordkid,

      Well, I got me a voodoo doll right here with your name on it. The next time you feel happiness, love and kindness, it will be 'cuz of this here goddess, Erzulie.

      Best Wishes

      October 12, 2010 at 6:43 pm |
    • Just_Wondering

      @lordkid
      "GOD has taught me words to use for you or against you."

      I wonder why he taught you hick English...

      October 12, 2010 at 7:26 pm |
  13. TheRationale

    Why so serious?

    October 12, 2010 at 6:20 pm |
  14. lordkid

    johnquest,nl,respondez in the name of JESUS CHRIST I Deliver you all over to satan for your remarks....And for attacking GOD and his followers..

    October 12, 2010 at 6:05 pm |
  15. lordkid

    resondez HE is GOD and knows all. I rebuke you in JESUS CHRIST name for calling him evil. He made us for his pleasure and to give us a choice to worship him and go to heaven or like you and others deny him and go to hell.

    October 12, 2010 at 5:00 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      lordkid, why would you get upset, God can't fight its own battles? An all powerful being needs a flawed living and breathing human to fight for it.

      I keep saying it because I don't know if God is a male or female (i would think neither).

      October 12, 2010 at 5:11 pm |
    • NL

      I can just imagine the headline tomorrow, "Man dies of electric shock while dousing computer with holy water during cyber-excorcism!"

      October 12, 2010 at 5:18 pm |
    • Respondez

      lordkid,

      Just when does this 'choice' come in then - you said "he" knows before we are even born what the outcome will be?

      Your 'rebuke' is the ranting of a hate-filled, batsh!t crazy person.

      October 12, 2010 at 5:43 pm |
  16. lordkid

    respondez that's o k to me.That is the reason why I know him and you don't. He knew who would accept him and who would not, before we was even born. Remember, many are called but few are chosen. Heaven will be a minority of people as I call it. My faith in him is deep.

    October 12, 2010 at 4:41 pm |
    • Respondez

      lordkid,

      "He knew who would accept him and who would not, before we was even born."

      Then you worship an evil monster.

      October 12, 2010 at 4:54 pm |
  17. lordkid

    raison GOD will deal with you at his timing and you want like it I promise. He knows your heart and thoughts and they are not his. He punish sin and evildoers. His words you blasphemy., that he don't take to lightly. If I was you I would ask GOD for forgiveness asap, if not, it is not nice to be in the hands of an angry GOD

    October 12, 2010 at 4:34 pm |
    • Raison

      @lordkid

      Well tell him to bring it on, then!
      I prefer an actual God that does actual things. I would prefer to know the truth, no matter how bad it may be.
      You promise things on his behalf and have judged me in his place and you have spoken as if you know his thoughts.

      Are you sure we're talking about God and not you??? Because it sure as heII doesn't sound like it from here....

      October 12, 2010 at 5:10 pm |
  18. lordkid

    Respondez I am sorry for your situation, but don't give up. He said seek him with all you heart,mind,soul and might, I know you ask not to say that, but were you diligently seeking him and obeying him. Did JESUS CHRIST fill your every thought. Did he mean the world to you. Was you reading or listening to the Bible daily and often. Did you talk to others about Christ and the Bible. Did you talk to GOD constantly, all the time about everything. Did you are do you accept the Bible as all truth. Are you Born Again with the HOLY SPIRIT . Do you or did you go to a Bible teaching, preaching and studying church. If you are doing all of these things sincerely in your heart with true LOVE for GOD he will meet you, be patient.

    October 12, 2010 at 4:20 pm |
    • Respondez

      lordkid,

      Were you doing all of those things when "He" appeared to you? Was Paul of Tarsus doing all of those things when he had his "vision"?

      I'm sorry, dear, but your claim sounds quite delusional to me.

      October 12, 2010 at 4:30 pm |
  19. Shari from Madison

    It is quite a joy to know their are clergy who are brave enough to live Christ's words.

    October 12, 2010 at 3:52 pm |
  20. Selfish Gene

    People are mean. People are especially mean to those who are different. Raise your children to not be mean.

    October 12, 2010 at 3:46 pm |
    • David Johnson

      And raise your children not to be different...

      October 12, 2010 at 3:53 pm |
    • Selfish Gene

      I think not being mean is a smaller mountain. We're born different. Much to the chagrin of some.

      October 12, 2010 at 5:09 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.