Horror. Outrage. Condemnation. Imagine the fire with which Christians would rise up and condemn a mass shooting at a Christian university or place of worship by a person with Islamic ties. We would universally vilify such an attack from every pulpit and platform available to us.
But a mass shooting didn’t happen Saturday night at a church or Christian college. It happened at a gay nightclub. The largest mass shooting in U.S. history happened in the midst of a segment of society that has been mutually antagonistic with evangelicals for years. So when news first broke of the shooting, the location and the ties of the shooter, my first thought was simply this: Christians better not be silent on this tragedy. I could almost sense an intentional silence that held an inherent judgment: “They got what they deserved.” God forbid if anyone claiming to represent Jesus would ever allow even the whisper of such a thought to take root in our minds. If we allow our disagreement with a segment of society to keep us silent on the horror of the act itself, our actions are antithetical to the actions of our Savior.
Is it possible to condemn the actions of the shooter without condoning a lifestyle with which many evangelicals disagree with? Absolutely. Was Jesus able to eat and celebrate with ‘sinners and tax collectors’ without condoning actions that broke the Law of Scripture? Absolutely. (See Mark 2:15) Jesus was able to see past actions and lifestyles that were contrary to Scripture and see the intrinsic worth of every human life. This shooting is not an issue of sexual orientation. This is not ultimately an issue of religion or Islamic extremism. This is an issue of sin and brokenness, of evil run rampant in the world and the loss of fifty intrinsically valuable human lives. It doesn’t matter if the victims were LBGTQ or a convent of nuns, a group of world leaders or a homeless community. Every single life on this planet, irregardless of race, religion, creed, socio-economic status or sexual orientation is absolutely precious. Every life lost is a tragedy. If Christians can’t “mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15) because we differ on political, religious or sexual issues, the problem lies with us, not them.
This is an opportunity to show the other-worldly love of Jesus. Let’s lay down our condemnation and judgment towards a segment of society that we typically disagree with and mourn with them. Let’s not be angry at them. Let’s be angry for them. Christians have an opportunity to show love and compassion to two groups of people that we have historically alienated and condemned: the LGBTQ and Islamic communities. Christians, find a gay friend or an Islamic friend and express your heartfelt sympathy for this act of horror. I absolutely know Jesus would have done so.