LGBT community needs support to feel more at peace with sexuality, religion

Religion is seen as incongruent and incompatible with the sexual preferences of the LGBT community by much of the population of the United States and the world.

In this year’s election cycle, LGBT rights are at the forefront of discussion. Many are quick to point out that the Bible sanctions marriage between a man and a woman, and this is how it should be. Many believe that anything but heterosexuality is a choice and that LGBT people need to realign their beliefs in God and His ways.

Yet little attention is given to the fact that many LGBT people are very religious, and they struggle to find a way that they can feel right with themselves religiously in a very Christian society, and right in the eyes of God.

I recently sat down to speak with Harrison Hakes, president of the registered student organization, Building Bridges, and senior in FAA.

Building Bridges is an organization that brings together people of the LGBT community, including those who identify as queer or an ally, to talk about issues that appear both in the Christian world and the LGBT community. They also aim to build a bridge of understanding between groups that have opposing viewpoints. We discussed the concerns that LGBT people deal with, and how they justify themselves with religion.

“A big issue is growing up and hearing from various sources that you’re going to Hell because of who you are and then coming to terms with if you believe that or not, and whether what you’re doing is a sin or not,” Hakes said.

But if an LGBT person believes that they are not committing a sin, then the question arises: Is the Bible void? Many LGBT people have grown up in a spiritual community and do not want to let a few verses of the Bible negate their beliefs. Yet many people have trouble understanding that LGBT people can be religious too.

I have a good friend that is gay and also very Catholic. He loves his church, yet he struggles with the ideas it preaches. Every day he scours the Bible, looking to gain a greater understanding of what it says is, and is not, right. He reads blogs of other LGBT people, learning how they are living their lives. He has a true love for God and is one of the best people I know. Yet, he is not living at peace with himself.

The majority of his struggle is caused by those verses of the Bible that forbid homosexuality, such as Leviticus 20:13: “If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable.”

While we could argue about the meanings of these verses for ages, I would like to point out that other verses in the Bible that condemn certain behaviors have since been “nullified.” For example, many verses promote stoning to death in the cases of adultery, not being a virgin when married and disobeying one’s parents.

Take Deuteronomy 22:13-21: “If any man take a wife, and go in unto her, and hate her … and found her not a maid … then the men of the city shall stone her with stones that she die.” Also, the Leviticus 11:10 forbids the consumption of shellfish, yet that is largely ignored today.

Red Lobster, anyone?

If verses like these can be ignored, why can’t those ancient ones about homosexuality be laid to rest as well? Why can’t people simply deal with the fact that some dudes love dudes, and some chicks love chicks and all that fall in between? And maybe most importantly, why can’t we all try to understand that LGBT people struggle with themselves, and they need our support? And no, they do not need someone taking the “love the sinner, hate the sin” approach — what they do need is our full-on approval.

Every member of the LGBT community comes to terms with religion and their sexual identity differently. Some will leave religion, others will stick with it but still think what they are doing is wrong. And others will find, in their own way, a way to make peace with themselves and religion. We need to be as supportive as we can to make this latter realization more common, so that more LGBT people can live their lives in inner-peace.

Kirsten is a sophomore in Media. She can be reached at [email protected]