Blood on the Cross and Blood on our Hands:
I Bear The Guilt Of Last Night’s Massacre
It’s Sunday morning and I should be doing what I always do: heading to church. But this morning, upon learning of the homophobic and transphobic massacre that took place in Orlando last night, I feel convicted to abstain.
I cannot bring myself to walk into the four walls of the people who are most responsible for the violence against LGBTQ+ people in our country.
I don’t know that I can sit in the pews where the seeds of destruction that murdered dozens of people last night were sown.
I cannot walk into the house of God and pretend we haven’t utterly defamed it.
I cannot sing hymns in the proclamation of a new kingdom when the gravestones of the slain, told truthfully, are the fruit of our labor.
Such sin we have taken as talents and buried deep into the ground now show themselves to be mustard seeds more resilient than our commitment to repentance; though I would be lying if I said such commitment existed. I have not seen its shadows, at least not among those who claim to call Jesus “Lord”.
I will not offer prayers, though you have them. I will not offer sympathies, though they are clearly manifested. But instead I will offer up the unrestrained acknowledgement that I, too, killed those people in a queer Orlando nightclub last night. I cannot distance myself from the guilt of their deaths.
Most Christians in this moment will offer some form of cheap condolences. Such acts, while undamaging, require no moral fortitude. They exist more for the ones who say it than for the ones who’s lives are shaped by our violence. Some Christians will go as far as to acknowledge the homophobia in the church and declare their own commitment to equality. Even that is a certain form of posturing. The most pitiful will use this moment to step upon God’s face on their climb to the top, declaring that the evil their hands have wrought are somehow the work of the One who created all and said “It is good”. I believe that God will give them their reward in due time. Some may even contritely acknowledge that if Christ were here he would be in that nightclub with “those sinners”. They would not dare acknowledge that Christ would be there out of his own queerness.
But for myself, as an act of discipleship, I must declare that their blood is indeed on my hands. Lord knows all of the blatant homophobia my past has seen. Even after that, I have spent countless hours investing in the institution of the Christian evangelical church, which has been on an expensive and unrelenting crusade to harm queer people in every aspect of their lives. I’ve watched as my queer friends have been pushed out of the church. I stayed. Even in my comparably loud condemnation of these archaic practices of the church, I have not divested from the spaces and communities where such hate flourishes, if not in public then in secret.
I am struggling to see who among those of us who call ourselves Christians cannot take ownership of such evil. Not just to feel bad for such horror while distancing ourselves from its origin, but to bring it near as a mirror and declare wholly both to persons and to God this sin which we have committed intimately.
I’m waiting to see when we will begin to divest from violence in concrete, rather than superficial ways.
I’m waiting to see to what lengths we are serious about God’s love for all people, queer people who God created in Their image.
I’m wondering when we will stop blaspheming against God’s creation for our own lust for power.
I’m wondering how we can come back and be redeemed from the wicked we have committed.
I know only that Christ can do such powerful work. I know truly that it will only take root in my own personal repentance of such sin that I acknowledge is held deep within my being.
To those celebrating Ramadan, whom we have also persecuted, I pray for you in this moment and hope that holiness for us all is somehow within reach. For my queer brethren, both in and out and far away from the church, I repent of the ways the church has harmed you, the ways I have harmed you. And for Christians across the country who have woken up this morning without feeling deeply the pain of our own guilt, of our own sin, may God have mercy on you. May it be true that we “know not what we do” Indeed, we shall receive our reward, and all the seeds we have sown we shall reap. May God have mercy on our souls.