An Orlando shooting in which 50 blissful LGBT people were murdered in cold blood. Politicians have tweeted their horror, and the entire civilised world is appalled. There is no apparent end to the column inches and broadcast hours which are being dedicated to analysis of the tragedy. And there is no end to the judgmental agenda-pushing, cause-appropriating, blame-apportioning, score-settling, guilt-inducing commentary. Some target society’s homophobic attitudes, some Islamist terrorism, and some Islam’s view of gays. Others focus on America’s corrosive gun culture, others on partisan delinquencies, and still others on those heartless Christians who seek to uphold the sanctity of holy matrimony. Thousands are offering up a prayer for Orlando, while some tweet their scorn at the futility of those prayers. Even enlightened atheist-secularists can grind an axe in the blood of suffering.
Jesus just weeps with those who weep. He doesn’t only weep with those who consider themselves a touch righteous or morally upright, or with those whose behaviour meets certain standards of chaste perfection. He doesn’t only weep with Christian heterosexuals who live each day by grace, or with repentant LGBT people who have earned his mercy. He weeps with those who weep, and mourns with those who mourn. There are no conditions on his compassion, and no limits to his love.
To weep with those who weep is a tender embrace. It is holding tight and wrapping in comfort in order to do nothing but be there. And if that warmth is a little warmer when cloaked in a rainbow flag, then that is what you must use, for compassion is spontaneous, selfless, generous and non-judgmental. It is the ultimate inclusion, for God’s love is unending and encompassing. He loves those who do not love, and believes in those who do not see, hear or believe. He is the Father of every one of those who died – gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. Some straight people might also have died, for the Pulse Orlando Night Club and Ultra Lounge is an inclusive establishment, but we’re not hearing much about their fate. God loves them, too.
Those who died will never dance again. Their families, friends and lovers will never see their smiles or hear their secret whispers. They do not belong here any more; they no longer have a home, for death has come to them sooner than any expected, and their loved ones weep and wail all night long, lost beneath the shelter of memories; lonely in their bitter questions. We can observe dispassionately and churn out blame and contemptible comment, or we can consider God and humanity, misery and mercy, and bind the brokenhearted in a circle of love. There is infinite healing and everlasting forgiveness when we move beyond earning, deserving and rewarding. Look into the Father’s eyes, and you will see the pain and desolation of all our choices, failures and rejections. But look a bit harder, and you will see the heart that yearns for reconciliation, and know the peace that passes understanding. When you are on the verge of tears wrapping the grieving LGBT community in a rainbow flag, you come to the threshold of the Kingdom, for all the gospel is there.