“Viewpoints” is a place on Chapelboro where local people are encouraged to share their unique perspectives on issues affecting our community. If you’d like to contribute a column on an issue you’re concerned about, interesting happenings around town, reflections on local life — or anything else — send a submission to viewpoints@wchl.com.

 

We Must Practice Acceptance and Love for All People

A perspective from Chloé Griffin

 

North Carolina is the place I call home and where I am proud to say I have received and continue to receive my education in philosophy, theology, and religious studies. It is through the education I have received at North Carolina institutions, among them Guilford College, Wake Forest University School of Divinity, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, as well as in church and from my family, that I have come to possess a core personal commitment to practicing radical acceptance and love for all people, and especially for the most marginalized among us.

I grew up in the United Church of Christ, a small but mighty denomination that is known for its historical legacy of participating in social justice movements and its history of accepting and embracing queer folks that dates back to the 1970s. When I came out as bisexual to my parents in college, both of whom are UCC ministers, they were surprised but accepted me without question. My identity as a queer person was never challenged, questioned, or opposed within the UCC. I am blessed to be a person who grew up in a Christian household where my coming out was, for the most part, pretty anticlimactic.

As a growing scholar who identifies with Black feminism, womanism, and queer theories of liberation, I believe that practicing radical acceptance and love for others can be a part of living one’s faith out loud for many people. It has also become the key to living my calling to serve the people of the Creator. My experience is testament to the fact that despite what the outside world may think the entirety of Christianity represents, or even what Christian right-wing extremists in our state and political offices may believe, it is possible to have a relationship with Jesus and live your truth as an LGBTQ2S+ person.

The Jesus I was taught to follow is one who opposed the corruption of the state and who taught his followers to love their neighbors and care for each other. Jesus sat, prayed, ate with, and physically touched the people who society despised. He embodied a form of radical acceptance and love that was so threatening to the status quo and the systems in power that he was killed for it. When we look at the political climate of our state and nation today, we must ask ourselves, are we building a society of acceptance and love for all people? Or are we allowing greed for money and power and limited worldviews of bias and hatred cloud our visions for a just future? Some people know that I grew up in the same church as Mark Robinson’s family, which they have since left. Since our time together as a part of the same church family, we have gone down different paths. Even so, I still pray for his health and wellness, as well as his family’s that I knew and loved as a child, and that hopefully as a community we can work together to elect the leaders who will lead with compassion and understanding for all people.

The Christian right-wing extremism we witness today is a terrible force we must collectively mobilize to fight against so that we can foster a world where everyone, regardless of their beliefs or identities, can be safe to thrive in a healthy and affirming way. The problem with Christian nationalism is that the people who most often represent this worldview refuse to take the responsibility to foster a society where all people can thrive and live the way they want to, including those they religiously disagree with or who live life differently from the way they do. We all deserve to live in a society where we can be safe, happy, healthy, accepted, and loved, no matter what you believe, who you love, or how you identify. For communities of color, women and other gender minorities, and LGBTQ2S+ folks, all of whom I’ve had the honor to work with and hope to continue to collaborate with and learn from through my research and activism, radical acceptance and love is how we can witness the Divinity within each other here on Earth.


“Viewpoints” on Chapelboro is a recurring series of community-submitted opinion columns. All thoughts, ideas, opinions and expressions in this series are those of the author, and do not reflect the work or reporting of 97.9 The Hill and Chapelboro.com.