We know the LGBTQIA community has made a great deal of progress over the past 40-plus years. This progress has come about because for the most part the community as a whole has stepped far out of the closet into the every day world.

There is no place one can go and not find well-adjusted and successful folk. Hell, we have even made it into commercials to sell almost every conceivable product and are main characters in the TV and movie world.

“Don’t ask, don’t tell” is about to become a thing of the past. Every time one looks up there is another state granting either marriage or at minimum “civil unions.”

Religion blog: We must come together now more than ever to obtain full equality

The national polls are all indicative we are making great strides of becoming an accepted part of society rather than an abomination.

The more we come out of our closets and are honest about who we are and who we love the more true Rev. Troy Perry’s proclamation of 30 years ago is: “To know us is to love us!”

Children who have been raised by same gender loving couples are growing up proud of their parents and even tell the same crazy stories about the parents that have been told for centuries.

Each day brings more protections for our jobs, our families, our property and the ability to not get the living crap kicked out of us when we are seen in public, at our schools, the bars, sporting events, the grocery store and restaurants. We have come so far as to be able to travel openly and safely.

Our choices for spiritual enrichment are no longer just “Gay Faith” groups. In every major faith there are affirming and progressive congregations who stand proudly for and with us as a whole people of God.

In times of national disasters, we are seen as heroes rather than villains. We participate in many sports and excel right next to our straight sisters and brothers. 

My God, we even run for public office and win.

President Barack Obama has appointed more of our community to all levels of jobs through out the federal government than all the other presidents combined! 

Praise is to God for all those in the LGBTQIA community who for the last 40 plus years have been willing to let their light shine brightly and courageously for all to see. Thank God for all those who have lived their lives in such a fashion as to teach the world not only are we not those who spoil the soup but rather give spice and taste to it.
Thank God for all those face the loss of family, job, property or even the loss of life, have stood strong and said, “No, the closet is no place to live.”

Yet, with all this progress, with all this good stuff, we now find ourselves in the “red zone” on the football field of life. The red zone is the last 20 yards a team must travel on the field in order to score a touchdown.

It is said by football experts that it is the single hardest ground to make progress toward the “promised land” or the thing we call a touchdown. Why? Because the defending team will come together and do everything it can to stop that progress, to stop the other team from scoring and coming away with a victory. Sometimes what they do is within the rules, sometimes it’s not.

The only way to get into the end zone is for the team driving to come together as a unit and do everything they can to continue the progress to the goal line. This will sometimes get done within the rules and sometimes not.

My point is that now is not the time to allow our community to become divided, fractured and apathetic towards those who would do us harm. For now the real test comes. Will the diversity of our community be our strength or will we turn on ourselves and begin to self-destruct in the same we see many of the Tea Party and Republicans doing now.

Let there be no mistake, those who would do us harm are now desperate and will stop at nothing to derail and push back our progress. They will lie, attempt to legislate, ex-communicate, fire from jobs, make up wild stories, or physically assault us so as to raise the level of fear to ungodly heights. Those who seek to do us harm seek to have power and control over our lives and us. Failing that, it is not out of the realm of possibility they will simply eliminate us.

We need not look any further than the county of Cobb.

Georgia GOP Rep. Bobby Franklin has said,

“The Bible says (homosexuality is) a capital offense. You want someone [in the military] with unrepentant criminal behavior? And it’s not just that, neither should adulterers, neither should thieves, neither should a lot of things. The church is full of sinners, but we’re told in 1st Corinthians it rattled off the homosexual, the adulterer, the thief, the liar, and such were some of you, but you’ve been washed, you’ve been justified and so forth. It’s not what you were. You’re not punishing a thought. But do you want an unrepentant drug dealer in the military? Same thing.”

The Georgia Voice writes that “according to his official biography, Franklin ‘has been called ‘the conscience of the Republican Caucus’ because he believes that civil government should return to its biblically and constitutionally defined role.'”

(the marietta daily journal via the georgia voice)

Or how about this:

“Carroll County Sheriff’s Office investigators are getting help from the Federal Bureau of Investigation as they attempt to find out who threatened a local man and then followed through on their threat hours later in what appears to be a hate crime.

A rock wrapped with a threatening note containing anti-gay slurs was thrown through the window of a home on Alvin Drive Saturday night. Then, Sunday morning, the house was burned.

Christopher Staples, the 43-year-old victim, is gay.”

Or how about the email I received from a person who had been at our church website:


I do not see how in this world you can call your selves CHRISTIANS, the BIBLE states very clearly that homosexuality is wrong. Try and read the Bible some time, in there around the story about Sodum and Gamora, it is an abomination to my Lord Jesus Christ. And absolutely makes me plain SICK!!!!!

John 3:16 says: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that WHOSOEVER believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”

Yes you are correct, ANYONE can call upon the name of the Lord and be saved! (Romans) But what you are severely mistaken on, is that when you are saved that means you repent of your sins. And let me tell you, last time I checked in the bible sexual immorality is a sin.

I’m a Christian, and I know that we all make mistakes, and sin. When I sin, I ask for forgiveness, and am forgiven. But when you are trying to justify homosexuality, that is wrong. When you are saved, you REPENT of your sins, that means to TURN from them. It says it as bold as black and white, there are no gray areas in the bible-homosexuality is wrong, and is a sin!

Yes, Jesus loves everyone, no matter what, but that gives no right to justify sin. God’s grace is abounded, but that is not an excuse to sin. Sin is sin is sin.

This web page is a sin to God, encouraging others that homosexuality is okay. Sadly my uncle and aunt are ones who believe the same, and because of this lie, their beliefs are very twisted.

How can you twist what is most very clearly stated that homosexuality is a sin. Just like, murder, lying, malice, hatred. Its [sic] all in black and white.”

This kind of stuff is only going to get more and more focused and painful if we stop what we have done all along which is to allow our diversity to shine through and tackle these attacks in a variety of ways.

Now is not the time to move to the suburbs and pretend everything is OK. 

Now is not the time to pit organizations in our community one against the other.

Now is not the time to tell young up and coming leaders in our community to “sit down and shut up cause you don’t speak for us.”

Now is not the time to say, “You can’t speak for me because you are white.”

Now is not the time to say, “You can’t speak for me because you are black.”

Now is not the time to say, “You can’t speak for me because you are not trans.”

Now is not the time to throw anyone or group from our community under the bus simply because we are not comfortable with them.

Now is not the time for the faith community to be guarding its particular turf or fighting for camera time.

Now is not the time for those who are from the “grass roots” way of doing things and those from the more corporate side of our community to say, “We can’t and we won’t work together.”

Now is not the time to get into fights and disagreements about our history, and who has done what to whom and how often.

Now is the time to allow Georgia Equality, The Queer Justice League and a host of other organizations in our community to do what they do best and come at our oppressors from every direction and with a diversity of plans of action.

Now is the time for our faith communities to come together, and be the spiritual leaders our community needs.

Now is the time for the individuals in our community and our allies to get involved, to stand up and be counted, find those places in the community where your ideas, creativity and passion can be most useful. Yes, that includes being willing to spend a little less on partying and giving some of that money to those who are in your opinion doing the work.

Now is the time to revisit an ancient writing with renewed understanding and commitment to its purpose:

“Now if the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason stop being part of the body.  If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?  But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.  If they were all one part, where would the body be?  As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

“The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ And the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!’ On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.  If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” 1 Corinthians 12:15-26 (New International Version, ©2010)

Now is the time. We are in the “red zone.” Now is the time for our diversity to be our integrity and strength.

Rev. Paul M. Turner is the Senior Pastor of Gentle Spirit Christian Church of Atlanta, The Church Without Walls, Sundays at 10:30am in Candler Park, first picnic pavilion.  Open, positive, inclusive. For more information, please visit www.gentlespirit.org or e-mail Pastor Paul info@gentlespirit.org.