“Good news," “bad news” and even “fake news” are common phrases we use to describe pieces of information we receive on a daily basis. In the Christian faith, Jesus’ teaching is called the Gospel, which is translated “Good News.”

Not long ago, I returned to the lakes area to recover from a recent surgery. Once home, I picked up the Echo Journal to catch up on the local news. As a seminary graduate and a guest pastor at Crosslake Presbyterian Church, I am always drawn to the Faith/Living page in the weekly paper.

An article in the Aug. 4 edition drew my attention. The title was, “The stain of racism, bigotry and injustice.” I was thrilled to read a critically important discussion piece written by a local faith leader.

As I read the article, I realized this piece did not offer a discussion of moral values, in my opinion, or of grace and good news, as one might expect from the faith section. It offered a discussion of the recent departure of Superintendent Lindholm, the SEED program and, I believe, a misconceived understanding of diversity training.

I believe that a multitude of world views and civil discourse about our disagreements are fundamental to American democracy and society. But when personal opinions masquerading as “Christian truth” employ hateful or abusive rhetoric, other Christians must take a stand and defend the faith.

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The Bible teaches that the Spirit of God has enlightened human life since the beginning of time (Gen. 1:2) and that God promises to continue making all things new (Rev. 21:5). Furthermore, Christians are taught that “whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (1 John 4:8)

The author of the above-mentioned article writes that “joy and happiness cannot be found in the L, the G, the B, the T, or the Q. It can only be found in Christ.” No Christian is debating whether joy and happiness come from Christ. But some Christians take Jesus at his word when he says he has come that we “may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)

We understand that abundant life becomes ours when we accept and embrace our God-given identities. Yes, joy and happiness are found in the L, the G, the B, the T, and the Q.

There is not a single verse in the entire Bible that condemns LGBTQ love and relationships. When placed in their original context, culture and language, it becomes clear that the small handful of oft-quoted Bible verses wielded against LGBTQ people actually condemn sexual exploitation and idolatry, not the kinds of committed same-sex relationships we see in our society today.

The church has a long history of twisting scripture to justify discrimination and oppression. Citing scripture, the church supported slavery. The church continues to use the Bible to support the oppression of women. With Bible in hand, the church has colonized foreign lands and supported genocide.

The church has too often been a purveyor of “bad news,” as it is when it preaches the exclusion of LGBTQ people. But here is some real good news: Queer folk are made in the image and likeness of God, and God takes pride in us and our love. Anyone who says otherwise is not speaking for God.

Austin Nelson is a part-time guest pastor at Crosslake Presbyterian Church.