By Luis Ortiz
When I moved to the United States from Mexico, one of the things that surprised me the most was the locker rooms. In 2011, I came to Chicago from my home in Mexico City for a vacation with my family. After a week, my father went home, and I was told by my mother that we would not be returning with him. I had to learn to adapt to the United States as an immigrant and learn a new reality that would not include my father and his family.
To add to my personal confusion, I discovered something important in the locker room: I was attracted to guys. My dad raised me Catholic, which led me to believe that I was destined to go to hell. When I told my family, they were not pleased: my mother, a fundamentalist non-denominational Christian, took it very badly. We became distant, and we had several arguments that made my life very bitter. During the summer before freshman year of high school, I contemplated the idea of suicide or running away, but I never attempted to do anything about it.
What saved me was my relationship with God. I started taking church a lot more seriously, especially when I adopted my mother’s faith, wondering how I could identify as bisexual and also believe in my religion. I started doing research and realized that there were others like me. Though the Bible can be very vague when it comes to certain rules, it’s very clear that same-sex relations are a sin. However, God would not send humans to hell for being attracted to men, simply because it is not under our control. Yet, it is like any temptation that this world possesses, which one must try really hard to stay away from. The Lord knows that we are not perfect; yet people struggle to empathize with the challenges that others face.
I never realized how important this empathy was until a terrorist shooting happened at a gay club in Orlando earlier this year. It made me realize how much hate really plagues this world—not only with the shooter, but with those who claim to be Christian as well. The Westboro Baptist Church is an example of how Christians can be hateful. When the shooting happened, they sprung up to declare a gospel of hate that encouraged murder, which is the opposite of what their God said in Exodus 20: “Thou shalt not murder.” They claimed that this was the judgement of the Lord upon the United States, a nation no longer under God.
But there is no clause in the Bible that says that we must laugh at the suffering of others. In fact, in Proverbs 24:17 it says that we must not rejoice in the pain of the sinner, but in the changes of their hearts. At the end of the day, people are always going to suffer, but it is not our jobs as Christians to hate the world. We must be a light in this world and love it just as much as Christ did.
This is how I identify with Christianity. There are many views out there, but with extensive research, I have come to this conclusion. My life is one thousand times harder because of the many aspects to my identity, but at the same time, it makes me appreciate how precious life is. Usually, people give up their views and surrender to whatever forces pressure them, but for me, my identity is who I am, who I strive to be, and who I will be. I know that in the end, only God can judge us.