The biggest leap of faith I've ever taken -- and one I continue to take every day -- is to believe I am loved. I've found my way to that belief through the teachings of Jesus Christ, but I don't pretend that's the only path to grace. Other people find grace through art or nature or philosophy or service to others... and those paths are in some ways superior, because no one claiming to represent a forest is going to come along and tell you that you aren't in fact loved, that you aren't equal to others, that you have to change who you are or suffer.
And people do that in the name of Christ all the time. A group of them did it just last week, releasing something called "The Nashville Statement," which shames both the beautiful city of Nashville and maybe even the word "statement." It attempted to define the "biblical" viewpoint on gender.
That a group of so-called Christians felt compelled to diminish the dignity and humanity of our LGBTQ comrades at this moment in history is a reminder, perhaps a necessary one, that progress in civil rights is fragile, and that reactionaries never truly surrender. They change their minds or die, and they will do as much damage going out as they can.
Those of us who live in a bubble of privilege need to remember that -- that these backwards and hateful attitudes toward LGBTQ people, no matter how marginal they may seem, have life or death consequences right now, both in the ways they play out in individual families and communities and because this hateful fringe now occupies some of the most powerful offices in the land.
Those consequences are linked, too: transgender youth make up a disproportionate percentage of our nations homeless population, because they leave or are forced to leave hostile environments. The man charged with addressing homelessness is Ben Carson, a molasses-witted walking Wikipedia entry who has treated his HUD appointment as a kind of personal gap year. He's mostly toured the country and created work for his son and wife, but apparently -- according to New York magazine -- one of the few areas of police that's garnered any momentum in the past nine months is a push to remove institutional support for helping trans people get off the street.
This not what I think Jesus would do.
Not that I advocate using Jesus as a policy guide -- I advocate using as a policy guide the same standards Jesus would use: Are we doing the most we can for the least among us? Are we treating each other with dignity? Are we thinking beyond our own narrow self-interest?
And that's the standard to judge the Nashville Statement by as well.
But if you are one of those attacked by the Nashville Statement, or you care about someone targeted by it, the policy questions are secondary to pain. I can do little for your pain. But I can tell you this impossible truth, because I believe it against all odds for myself: You are loved.