But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
— John 1:12-13
This week, the 11th Circuit struck down a Florida evangelical Christian ministry’s claim that it was discriminated against and defamed after the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) labeled it a hate group, causing Amazon to deny its application to fundraise through the online retailing giant’s charitable website. A unanimous three-judge panel of the Atlanta-based appeals court upheld an Alabama federal judge’s September 2019 decision to dismiss the lawsuit brought by Fort Lauderdale-based Coral Ridge Ministries Media (also known as D. James Kennedy Ministries) against Amazon, the AmazonSmile Foundation and the SPLC.
D. James Kennedy Ministries, formerly Coral Ridge Ministries, has actively campaigned against same-sex marriage and has a history of maligning the entire LGBTQ+ community. Over the years, Kennedy emphasized anti-gay rhetoric, particularly in his TV ministry. In an especially nasty 1989 edition of a newsletter, Kennedy ran photographs of children along with the tagline, ‘Sex With Children? Homosexuals Say Yes!’
Groups like D. James Kennedy Ministries have advocated that lawmakers across the country to propose or have passed a record number of bills this year that would impact the rights of transgender people. Groups like D. James Kennedy Ministries actively seek to demonize LGBTQ+ individuals, drive them back into the closet, and spread hate. They cherry-pick the Bible and take verses out of context to spread their messages of hate.
For many LGBTQ+ individuals we are treated like Jesus is described as being treated in the Gospel of John. In John 1:10, it says of Jesus, “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.” The Jews saw all that Jesus did and heard all that He said. They witnessed His many miracles and followed Him wherever He went. They became His disciples and were astonished by the gracious things He said and all that He did – but most did not believe the Truth, and Jesus was crucified. Similarly, LGBTQ+ Christians are part of the wider Christian community, but many non-LGBTQ+ Christians do now want to know us. They shun us from the Christian community and tell us we are going to hell. But that is not what God says.
The next two verses tells us that God does not see the world that way. John 1:12-13 says, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” These verses tell us that if we take Jesus in our hearts and believe in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, then we are born of God. We are the children of God. We all have an earthly mother and father, but when we choose to follow the teachings of Jesus, then we are children of God. We are not bound to the hatred espoused by men who claim they speak of Jesus. We are not of hatred little men, but of God.
John 1:17 even tells us, “For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” The truth of God’s love and his acceptance doesn’t come from earthly authorities, but God’s grace and truth comes through Jesus Christ. John 14:6 says, “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’” Jesus doesn’t say, “No one comes to the Father except through leaders of megachurches or of hate-filled ministries.” Jesus says, “No one comes to the Father except through Me.” It is only those who love that are truly following Jesus’s teachings. First John 4:8 says, “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” It is as simple as that: Anyone who spreads love know God; anyone who spreads hate does not know God.
We are here on this Earth to know God and to love God. We cannot do that if we spread hate. God is very clear on the subject. Jesus spelled this out clearly in Matthew 22:37-40, “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”