Rev. Daphne Burt

Fredericksburg, Virginia

Daphne BurtOnce upon a time, I was told that God loved me "no matter what." It changed my life. My resolve to support sexual minorities in the church grew out of my own dependence on the grace and love of God – and has been strengthened by having witnessed the pain that God’s children go through when someone tells them they are not lovable. I have prayed and read and reflected and asked myself over and over, "How would Jesus respond to these ones?" I am convinced that God loves them as God loves me – no matter what!

As a campus minister, I have had the opportunity to walk with students whose self-esteem is dangerously low because they have heard words of rejection from the church. I have wept with students whose parents rejected them when they came out. I have rejoiced with the community when I presided at union ceremonies. I have been hurt by those who claim that I am "not a Christian" because I believe that God calls us into loving, faithful, committed relationships – regardless of gender. As one who has been healed by the power of God’s unconditional love, I am committed to declaring that love to all of God’s children – and find myself quite mystified by those who see the need to "protect" God from loving the "wrong" people.

It is one thing to believe that someone is sinning. It is another to call them names, and tell them that they are damned and damnable. It is one thing to disagree. It is another to couch that disagreement in absolute terms, using hyperbolic language that is meant to wound and debase. Hate speech isn’t just unloving – it kills. Sexual minorities who are told that they are "depraved," perverted,"and "going to hell" start to believe it – and start to hate themselves. Uninformed heterosexuals who hear such language also believe it – and start to hate sexual minorities just because they don’t understand them. Hate speech kills the Spirit inside which tells a person that s/he is good, forgiven, and loved. Hate speech kills the Spirit inside which tells a person that the rest of God’s children are good, forgiven, and loved. Hate speech kills those who believe that a happy life is not possible for them, and take their own lives. Hate speech kills the victims of those who believe the rhetoric and feel justified in murdering a brother or sister. As a Christian, I am committed to replacing hate speech with words of God’s unconditional love for all God’s children.