By Amanda Tobey
My name is Amanda Tobey and I am a youth member from the Tacoma District. Through my 16 years, I have had to deal with many things. I have had multiple friends contemplate suicide and on more than one occasion this was because they were lesbian or gay. I am a person who is very involved in church events. All of my friends know that.
I had a friend in eighth grade call me one night to ask if she could tell me something – if I promised not to judge her. I said of course. She said that she was a lesbian. I said that was cool and that I didn’t really care. She was shocked; she thought that because of my association with the church that I wouldn’t be willing to accept her. I said of course I would but after another incident similar to this, I started to question my faith; not quite my faith, but it did cause me to question my view of God. I grew up in a community that talked about how you had to be or else you were doomed, God would hate you, and you would go to Hell. I always had a different view than that.
During this last year I went through confirmation and really discovered who the God I believed in was. He was someone who loves everyone. Personally, I could never believe in a God that hated people, because if God was perfect, he wouldn’t judge people based on their flaws or differences. In my mind, if you are a person hating/judging people on sexual orientation, you had better be hating on everyone that eats bacon or divorces their significant others. Otherwise you have no foot to stand on. I realize these things are commonly accepted, but this is like saying that we ban people from the church if they have an affair. But we don’t! We are a church that markets ourselves as having “Open hearts. Open minds. Open doors.” That is one of the reasons that I enjoy being a United Methodist.
I can happily say that I am part of a community of Christians that don’t need to judge because we know that God loves everyone equally. We shock people regularly when they hear that. They say that it’s weird and doesn’t make sense. Honestly, if we are a church condemning the LGTBQ community, we are a church no different from any other and should be changing our motto, and we will lose a lot of the youth members. The Bible talks all the time about not judging one another, yet we do it constantly. It is time that we need to change. For many of the youth I have talked to, homosexuality isn’t an issue, and WE are the future of this church.