People over Religion

Ah, sexuality. Homo or hetero, our culture seems obsessed with it.

A few years back, my young boys and I were watching the Superbowl, and a commercial came on for a restaurant chain.

image695244x

“Mommy, why would someone be eating a hamburger in that outfit? Weird!” declared my then 5 year old little guy.

Bless his little heart. What he thought was weird, I thought was embarrassing to watch with my boys in the room. Now, having a little girl as well, these types of commercials really get under my skin. Sex sells, plain and simple. But, you know what else does? Brains. Kindness. Love. I make sure to let my daughter knows that, yes, she is beautiful, but not only on the outside.

In a culture obsessed with sexuality, we have become a nation that is polarized on a hot topic of the day: gay marriage. Now that the Supreme Court has declared it legal for two people of the same sex to be married, the debate on the legal front has ended. But, the battle rages on, especially among Christians.

I’m not going to tackle that battle here. Instead I’m going to tell you about the way I choose to handle this subject..

When I went to college back in the late ’90’s, I can honestly say I had never known anyone personally that was gay. In college, I met many who were. I sang in the choir with gay men, I was in theater with gay men and women1498948_10204454901908501_3972927144097281103_o, and I lived across the dorm hall from gay women. I wasn’t sure how to reconcile their “lifestyle” with what I had heard in church growing up. They were so, well, NORMAL. And I loved them, fiercely, like I loved all my other good friends. We debated things like whether being gay is a sin (according to The Bible) and whether or not we thought gay folks should be married legally or have kids. I had some pretty conservative feelings back then, but I always said I could be wrong. The thing that I really struggled with is having a few gay friends that loved my Lord as much as I did. How can this be if being gay is an abomination?

Two of my college friends that I LOVE!

Now, being well into my 30’s, I am a much more liberal person when it comes to my theology and the way I think about God. But the one thing that hasn’t changed is my love for my gay friends. It was there all along, I just think I didn’t quite know what to do with it before.

11698511_919220688114117_1957285698220968615_n

I am attending the Pride In the Park family festival this Saturday at Lake George in St Cloud (from 11-4). This will be my first Pride weekend activity that I’ve ever attended. I am attending to spread the word about #unitecloud and let LGBTQIA folks in St Cloud know that it is not OK for them to be marginalized in our city. Ever. We want them to know that #unitecloud sees them as people first. And we want to tell their story if it will help us be better as a community.

 

 

It is not OK for gay people to be marginalized in St. Cloud. Click To Tweet

There is a phrase I used to say that I have vowed never to say again: “Hate the sin, love the sinner.” Many Christians say this when they are debating gay rights. To me, that phrase puts religion over people. It tells someone that something about them is worth hating.

I choose to put people over religion. To really look into the heart of folks that I meet on Saturday at Pride in Park. And to do that every day, no matter where I am, no matter who I’m with. I’m not there to save them from something they never asked to be saved from. I’m there to SEE them. To get to KNOW them. And yes, to LOVE them.

About the Author

Natalie Ringsmuth

Facebook

Natalie grew up in Central Minnesota and received her Music Education degree from Concordia College in Moorhead. She taught middle school choir in Georgia and worked in the church sector for over a decade. She now works as a legal assistant at Tripiciano Immigration Law, a trainer with the CARE (Community Anti-Racism Education) Team at SCSU (St Cloud State University), and as Founder and Director of #unitecloud, a non-profit working to reduce racial, religious, and cultural tensions in Central MN. She is a member of the Community Impact Team at United Way of Central MN and is a member of the St Cloud District 742 school board. In her spare time (haha) she loves to spend time with her husband and 3 children.