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Read:   Matthew 7:1

     “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.”

When I was a kid in the 1970’s it was common for kids to do “cut downs”. Cut downs were insults, name calling, and making fun of someone.  It was rough; even awful. A common cut down was to call another boy a “faggot” or “fag” – I cringe writing it.  Any boy who was shy, quiet, too smart or not good at sports was a target, often with devastating impact. In the 1970’s, if you were gay (or LGBTQ) you were safest “in the closet”.  Most “normal” people didn’t know anyone who was LGBTQ.

In the 80’s the AIDS crisis hit.  It spread in the promiscuous gay community fast and many thought that it was “God’s wrath” for sinful behavior.  Then sexually active, irresponsible strait people started getting AIDS.  Then drug addicts, who shared needles caught AIDS – and many still considered it to be God’s wrath.  Then the innocent spouses of cheating partners caught AIDS.  Then babies were born with AIDS.  Then those who received blood transfusions because they were hemophiliac got AIDS. Then came the story of Ryan White, a 13 yr. old Christian boy and hemophiliac from Kokomo, Indiana who got AIDS from blood transfusions. White became a powerful advocate and spokesperson for HIV/AIDS awareness and compassion.  He died at age 18; his grave has been hatefully vandalized four times.  Ryan White helped many people realize that HIV/AIDS was not the wrath of God.

In the 90’s we all knew someone whose family was impacted with AIDS or an LGBTQ issue. Special hospice centers offered compassionate care to those dying of AIDS, and many saw the love of Christ at work in these hardest of circumstances.  WWJD?  Jesus would love.  He’d care for the suffering and comfort those grieving.

By 2000 most people knew someone who was gay.  In 2020 many people know someone whom they love and care about who is LGBTQ.  Today LGBTQ youth are at the highest risk for suicide than any other group and are up to 7x greater risk in some regions.  Our society has struggled to understand LGBTQ issues. Often “strait” people don’t understand LGBTQ persons – we don’t/can’t fully relate.  But we don’t have to stereotype and stigmatize, judge and reject them.  Jesus commands us to love everyone.  He tells us that God will be the judge of us all.  He also explicitly tells us, warns us, not to judge; that’s not our place.  It’s not our job.  Our job is to

love.

Shalom,

Pastor Rob Nystrom