I am saddened by the senseless act of hate that took place in Orlando on June 12.  The motive for this massacre is quite plain and is a sensitive issue for many, myself included, to address.  The role of religion in this shooting has brought a different kind of attention to this crime.  The targeted individuals were killed because of their homosexual lifestyles that someone felt justified to punish because of their religious beliefs.  Throughout history there have been heated arguments surrounding this issue with passionate debates between those for and against same sex relationships.  Today these differing views are being highlighted and defended more than ever in the media, our politics, schools and personal relationships.  It disturbs me that such horrific violence took place and continues to take place in the name of God and a perverted faith.  We are all children of God and no one has been given the authority to throw stones or shoot bullets at those living in a way they don’t agree with.  

I am convicted by God’s law, however my belief in and love for Him does not give me the right to judge anyone of a different belief system and it bothers me that others condemn so freely.  We are not to take upon ourselves that which belongs to God.  Hate and violence is not what God is about.  Our differing views should not affect our humanity and love towards each other.  We should instead be quick to go out of our way to show love, compassion and sympathy for all people.  We do that by showing no partiality in who we show kindness to.  This means doing the same good deeds we would do for a friend for a stranger who is a little different from us.  We have to see people as human first.  We have to meet them where they are in their life and encourage them in times of trouble and share in their joy.  It’s the only way to remedy the hate in the world.  

God is loving, but He is also just.  He is not a God of vile acts against humanity.  Anyone who interprets His word as such distorts and twists His message.  Misinterpreting God is dangerous and can lead to these deadly events.  Slavery and declarations of war in the name of God are examples of this misinterpretation, as well as religious hate groups.  Hate groups specifically do not represent God’s nature with their screaming, hateful public protests or by waving their signs that say “God hates f*gs,” which is an incorrect and derogatory statement.  None of these things have ever been ordained by God.  Loving our neighbor, family member or friend doesn’t mean we must accept behavior that is contrary to the word of God that we believe in, but we love them with all our hearts nonetheless because that is what people of God do. They do not kill out of self-righteousness.

Prayer is a powerful weapon and when two or more people participate in this spiritual force together, whether it is at your family dinner table, worship service or a community gathering, it can reap an even greater positive change.  It’s more than a hashtag.  It’s an intentional and heartfelt communication tool that directly connects us to God so we must use it diligently, constantly, genuinely and in times of joy and tragedy if we want to see the effects it can bring.  So I believe we need to pray fervently for Orlando because lives were lost.  We need to pray for the cease of violence.  And we need to pray for our country, so that it may see the light.