Key Findings and Recommendations:
Although multiple studies point to elevated rates of depression, anxiety and substance abuse among sexual minority people, the panel found that these problems, by themselves, do not account for the higher rates of suicide attempts that have been reported by LGBT people. THUS, the consensus report identified Stigma and Discrimination as playing a key role, especially acts such as Rejection or Abuse by Family Members or Peers, Bullying and Harassment, Denunciation from Religious Communities and Individual Discrimination.
The Journal of Homosexuality
There are two themes that ring out clearly from the hundreds — actually thousands — of stories I have read this month: first, that we all deeply desire to be known and loved by our Creator God, and second, that we all desperately need to know that the people we are closest to, our families and friends, love us just because we breathe. Pretty simple, right?
This is not just our story; I have heard from hundreds of men and women whose experiences of rejection and alienation from family members have sparked downward spirals of depression, addiction and despair.
The family bond that cannot be broken
From the July 10, 2017 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel
By Tony Lobl, CS
In our heart of hearts, none of us wants our family ties to be broken.
That stands to reason, because we each have a spiritual sense within us—a capacity to see beyond the many material details of our lives, to what God knows. And with this spiritual sense we can perceive one universal family we each belong to. In this family the ties that bind are never torn apart by grief, nor severed by any geographical or emotional parting of the ways. In this family, Spirit, God, is the perfect, divine Parent—our divine Father-Mother—and we are all His solely spiritual offspring, bonded together in an unbreakable spiritual unity.
In best-case scenarios we gratefully see this ideal family reflected in human families formed of mutual fondness, compassion, kindness, and belonging.
Sadly, this isn’t always how human relationships play out, either within the global family of mankind or within our own families.
Just over a year ago, a shooter opened fire on a crowd in an Orlando, Florida, club predominantly frequented by the LGBT community. Dozens of innocent lives were lost, and families and friends were left grieving. In the wake of such targeted hatred, I immediately reached out to people dear to me who openly identify themselves as gay—including a fellow church member, my brother, and his marriage partner—to express love and care for them.
On the 24-hour news cycle, talking heads mainly focused on the big-picture tragedy. But one lone voice particularly moved me. In a missive addressed to the killer, author K. G. MacGregor pinpointed what she called the real fear faced by LGBT people in everyday life, a fear which would strike a chord with anyone who has ever dreaded, or experienced, broken family ties.
What if we were to see every individual as our divine Parent’s son or daughter, and just love them?
“Real fear [is] being unloved. By our parents, our siblings. By our extended families and dearest friends. By our schools, churches, workplaces and communities. There’s nothing you can ever do to us that scares us more than the thought of losing love,” she wrote.
In the spiritual understanding of Christian Science, fear is ultimately never real in the light of divine Love’s allness. And the truly satisfying and enduring spiritual love that reflects this divine Love, and which makes up our true identity as God’s children, can never be lost. But as I read MacGregor’s words, I put myself in the shoes of those who had found themselves “unloved” by those they’d grown up with or grown close to—or by those at church they had grown into fellowship with. And I yearned to see all such loss of familial affection become a thing of the past.
At their best, family members love one another impartially. Such love can not only safeguard a family member going through a potentially vulnerable period in his or her life, but can also safeguard every other family member’s connection to a son, daughter, sister, brother, nephew, or niece, whose love they should never be deprived of.
And when this impartial love is founded on God’s love—by which we love man as the pure image of divine Love itself—it does more than tolerate differences. Such love lifts the atmosphere of thought to that place where those we relate to genuinely feel loved, whatever differences we might feel we have. And loving our kith and kin no matter where they might be in their individual demonstration of spiritual growth fulfills our obligation to support them in moving forward morally and spiritually, just as we would want to be supported in our own efforts to do so.
Such empowering love is best seen in the spirituality Christ Jesus exemplified, which enabled individuals to feel both the love of God that heals broken minds and bodies and the power of Truth that transforms character. The Christ, the voice of the true Mind, God, so clearly perceived in Jesus’ love for all, shines a light on what we all spiritually are as objects of God’s never-ending affection. To affirm this understandingly is prayer that brings out an affection within us that unreservedly expresses Love’s care.
For instance, I recently talked with a Christian Scientist who had met and married a man whose adult daughter was the first openly gay person this Christian Scientist had ever known. I asked, “So how did you respond when finding this out about your daughter-to-be?” She simply said, “Well, I just loved her.”
As her husband’s daughter, and as God’s daughter, she has loved this young woman for over a decade now. She and her husband regularly voice that love, and express it in tangible ways, to both the daughter and her partner.
What if we were to see every individual as our divine Parent’s son or daughter, and just love them? Isn’t our willingness to see the unbreakable bond between the divine Mind and all its ideas the right starting point for guiding all our relationships?
By contrast, it’s the carnal mind—the opposite, material belief of man as separate from God—that tears families apart. This false mentality is pictured in the Scriptures as a talking serpent tempting us to act and react based on a false, fleeting sense of man as matter-defined rather than Spirit-created. But we don’t need to listen to the whispers of this serpent. People, in good faith, wrestle with the Scriptures and sincerely arrive at contrasting conclusions about what particular Bible passages teach. But can’t we all unite in praying to support families being havens of love, where we’re all wholeheartedly valued and welcomed, while also being seen beyond every temporal label as the loved, divine idea of God we each actually are?
And if that doesn’t happen? A Bible promise says, “God setteth the solitary in families” (Psalms 68:6). So in cases where families haven’t been the havens we would wish, we can pray to know, as Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures says, “Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need” (Mary Baker Eddy, p. 494). This applies wherever we are on our journey of understanding and proving the purely spiritual identity that ultimately defines us all. As loved sons and daughters of the Divine, we each have a forever fixed place within our divine family whose bonds have never been broken, and cannot be broken. These forever family bonds include each and every one of us equally, in unbroken unity with the Love that Mrs. Eddy describes as “man’s only real relative on earth and in heaven” (Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896,p. 151), our Father-Mother God.