Perhaps you’ve seen someone on the Diag holding a sign that says “God Loves Everyone (Yes, including the gays).” And perhaps he’s told you “God bless you, and have a good day.” If you haven’t taken the time to speak to him, you should. He’s a pretty nice guy. I know because I am that guy.

If you count yourself among those that are confused by my message, don’t be ashamed, you’re not alone. Some people wonder, “How can a person who is openly gay be a devout and true Christian?” Answering this question in its entirety can’t be done in the 800 word limit of this viewpoint, but it’s not as simple as saying “Read Leviticus 18:22 and it’s written plain as day. Homosexuality is just wrong!”

I often (perhaps too frequently) have this debate with individuals who claim to be “true Christians.” Every time someone thinks the Bible condemns homosexuality, they are coming from a philosophy that views the Bible as the inerrant and infallible word of God. The simple response to these objections is that the Bible just isn’t inerrant or infallible. One only need observe verses like Ephesians 6:5 (which condones slavery) or Matthew 15:4 (which commands parents to kill the children that disrespect them with a rod) to realize that the Bible is not perfect, and that it has some questionable things to say. However, I do believe that the Bible contains the word of God. It’s just a matter of analyzing the Bible’s many verses critically and with this core philosophy at the forefront of your mind: Love your neighbor as yourself.

Using the Bible to disparage any group of people, including gays, is a dangerous misuse of the text. Using God as an excuse to hate any group of people is not only wrong, but is one of the main reasons that the religious are in such poor standing among the agnostic and the atheist. And religious people should care about what the faithless think about them.

For an extended discussion of these questions and the issues that they raise, I encourage students to attend the 2010 TBLG Interfaith Conference this Saturday, Mar. 20 from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Dana Building. It’s being organized by Spectrum of Faiths, an Interfaith LGBT organization at the campus. The aim of the organization and the conference in general is to help shed some light on these issues and allow for a different kind of discussion that doesn’t end with, “Well, if it’s in the Bible, that’s the way it is, and there’s no point in debating it even further.” The issue is deeper and more complex than that. Additionally, the conference will address how other faiths, including Judaism and Islam, are handling these issues related to sexual orientation and gender expression. Attending this conference is a valuable opportunity to learn about the important role that faith can and does play in the lives of gays and lesbians.

The bottom line is that if you believe in a loving God (which I do) and if you believe that God holds love higher than all other values, there is no credible way you can object to the genuine love that two people, of any sexual orientation, have for one another. That also includes romantic love. Perhaps you don’t think that homosexuals are capable of displaying this kind of love. I know many a street preacher that hold this view. Maybe they think that gay and lesbian love is not really love, but rather a misplaced lust that can only manifest itself sexually and promiscuously with the aid of crystal meth. I can assure them that this view is fundamentally flawed, and I often find that the people in some of the most loving, committed and long lasting relationships, are gay. In the great majority of cases, they don’t even have the official bonds of marriage keeping them together. Their relationship is sustained in its entirety by the passionate commitment that they have for one another, and I can find fewer things in life more beautiful than that. The thought of God rejecting this kind of love is illogical and inconsistent with the one central commandment: Love your neighbor as yourself (Romans 13:8).

I encourage you as students of this great University to learn more about these issues, and continue to find ways to accept LGBT individuals into the fabric of your communities, both secular and spiritual.

Adrian Madriz is an LSA senior.

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