As the weekend begins in the United States, the minds and hearts of people around the world remain deeply wounded by last week-end’s tragedy at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. Just a week ago the victims were planning weekends of time with family and friends, with work and relaxation. Now their names are listed in memorial.
Because the night-club was a gathering place for the LGBT community, the tragedy has surfaced the fears that many people have about their own lives, their identity, and the lives and lifestyles of those they love. While many of the victims had come out as gay and were lovingly accepted by their families and friends, many others no doubt lived in silent fear that if their sexual orientation became known to others they would be left without work and family. They would perhaps be alone facing our ultimate human fear of isolation.
After all, perhaps there is only one root of all sin, and perhaps that root is fear which is always the opposite of love and which inevitably breeds hate, violence and death. Those who know that they are truly loved, know that they have no grounds for fear.
This week has been a week of overwhelming grief for the families and friends of the fifty who died.
It is always a tragedy when a young life is lost by accident, but the Orlando shooting last Saturday was no accident. While we may never know the motivations of the one who carried the gun, we do experience our own struggles with those who may seem to be different. We Christians may experience the tension of retaining the integrity of our own convictions and beliefs while reaching out in love to a gay sister, brother, mother, father, son, daughter, workmate or neighbour. And perhaps too often, the tension that we feel leads us to a love that is theoretical and distant, and therefore is no love at all.
I have been moved in the past week watching news interviews with many of the people who survived Saturday’s tragedy as they speak without hesitation and with deep conviction of the presence of God with them, and inviting all people to pray.
As the families and friends of our fifty sisters and brothers gather to bury their loved ones in these days, let us pray for those who have died, their family and friends, and especially those who find more friendship in the LGBT community than they do in the Christian community.