“There is nothing to prove and nothing to protect. I am who I am, and it’s enough.” ― Fr. Richard Rohr
Let’s start this article with something simple to say, yet so many of us have struggled a lifetime to embrace: *You* are not broken. *I* am not broken. *We* are human. We are beings of inestimable worth and beauty.
We are humans with many incredible and complex facets at our core, including the gift of being LGBTQ+. Our core sense of relational being and personal identity brings beauty into the world in a way that is real, authentic, practical, and transcendent (in many ways) of current understanding. It’s a gift to be an LGBTQ+ human, not a curse. Our strengths, character, skills, and even weakness all bring about the opportunity for beauty and growth.
Toxic theology is threatened by viewing the current human experience as starting from and empowered by an innate sense of good. It tries to convince us that we are all born “broken” and separated from God. Toxic theology always ends up bringing internal hell in the here and now in the name of saving us from eternal torment, which it can’t prove. Systemic stigma, the unholy twin to toxic theology, empowers the individual’s corrosion of community and oppression. It does so by instilling fear and hatred toward those who look, relate, or identify differently. Systemic stigma is a product of religious bigotry, which is a far cry from unconditional love.
Being a healthy and whole LGBTQ+ person (of faith or not) upends all of this. We know what true unconditional love looks like. For many of us, it saved our lives. For those of us who are spiritual, we have not only seen unconditional love’s power to save lives and help us and others thrive. We know that when unconditional love manifests in whatever way, we are witnessing the very face and hands of God in action. Toxic theology and systemic stigma will no longer steal that from us.
After 28 years of being a follower of Jesus, I am now thoroughly convinced that when Jesus looks on the Children of God, He rejoices for all of us equally. He sees the “glory” (beauty, love, all things good) that we all bring into the world in our delightfully, unique ways. Thus, he starts from a good place in creating, recognizing, and being in a relationship with us not only because He is Perfect but also because we are His LGBTQ+ children.
What is the biggest threat to toxic theology and systemic stigma? When LGBTQ+ people know our worth and choose to be an unstoppable force for good. We overcome this when we expose that cultural conceptions of “brokenness” are only a tool of oppression to force people into a disempowered life of sin management. The “brokenness” mantra only works toward empowering the corrupt who seek to capitalize on falsely created desperation and pain.
One thing I truly believe is that every human (of faith or not) has two profound and inescapable yearnings, to know and be known, to love and be loved. We know and will make known the fundamental truth that sets everyone (not the chosen few of a particular faith) free in this situation. We are loved and will love as we have been created to do. That is a beautiful thing, my friend!
We are as beautiful and equal as any other human regardless of experience or environment. We bring beauty into the world in our capacity to reveal and turn all of our experiences toward building up, protecting, and celebrating love and goodness. We emanate beauty from within, inspire beauty in and around us, to create and celebrate life.
We are transcendent beauty present in the human experience.
We are not broken.