Faith, Family, and God: A Q & A about God

By Paul P. Jesep*/TRT Columnist —

Does God punish LGBT people?
No. God created you. You are holy. God is not self-destructive. God no more sent HIV/AIDS than cancer that inflicts children. Theologians, philosophers, and great thinkers have debated, discussed, and reflected for thousands of years why bad things happen to good people. No one has an answer. Sometimes it’s just best to leave it alone. Life just is.
Nor does God allow hate, bigotry and discrimination. These are human behaviors. Many are unaware of the medical, scientific and spiritual normalcy in being LGBT. Don’t project human insecurities, ignorance or bad behavior onto God.

Why trust in some higher power when God’s representatives persecute me?
Popes, patriarchs, cardinals, or bishops often have obtained their positions by a bit of inside politics. Holiness isn’t an overriding concern in selecting high-ranking religious officials. They may be selected because of political savvy or administrative skills. God doesn’t pick them.
Because someone has a title doesn’t automatically make them pious, holy, intelligent, or God’s representative. Don’t get caught up in titles and fancy religious packaging. Some of the nicest, smartest, and most decent people you’ll ever meet, for example, were high-school or college dropouts. Some of the meanest, dumbest, unscrupulous people you’ll ever meet have college and graduate degrees.

Why would I want to be part of any religion that calls me a sinner?
Human beings run religions. They make mistakes all the time. Throughout history, religious leaders have been wrong. No one speaks for God. People who call you a sinner don’t have a monopoly on God. They’re people just like everyone else who can get a little too full of themselves. Also, there are places of worship that will accept you as an LGBT person made in God’s image, and not try to change you.

Isn’t being LGBT and a person of faith contradictory?
No. God and religion is not the same thing. Human beings created religions (pick your flavor) in an attempt to enhance a spiritual journey, give meaning to their lives, and to better understand God or at least some higher power who they hope sorts out the world’s pain, suffering and confusion. LGBT people can still be good Jews, Muslims, Christians or other people of faith.

Why is there a small part of me that still feels ashamed?
Society or family may have contributed to conditioning you to feel this way. Ultimately, you decide how to feel. It’s easier said than done, but it’s your choice to allow negative views to become your reality. If someone wearing green and orange plaid clothes said you have no fashion sense would you care? If a bad cook said there is no creativity in your meals would you care? Keep perspective. You determine how to feel.

How do I find God?
Pray and see what happens. Prayer can be a silent conversation in the car when the radio is turned off. Prayer doesn’t mean you recite specific words. Ask for courage, wisdom, or patience. Ask for insight, guidance, or help in growing as a person. Don’t ask to win the lottery. You may be surprised what happens over the long term.

Why does God love me?
You’re God’s child. God doesn’t make mistakes. You were meant to be here. It’s possible that God put you and all LGBT people here to teach the world to love more and judge less. If the world doesn’t have love, it has nothing.

* Paul is an author, attorney, and a seminary trained, ordained priest in greater Albany, N.Y. E-mail questions to

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