So another mass shooting has happened in the United States and once again our screens are filled with images of shocked survivors and grieving relatives. It can be so easy to be almost blasé about the stories we hear, in some ways we have heard these voices so many times before being repeated again and again on rolling news cycles until the words acquire a dreadful and hollow familiarity.
But each tragedy is unique and has its own victims. And surely our response must be to stand and weep with parents, siblings, partners and friends who have lost their loved ones, and pray for those so seriously injured. We may of course wonder about the wisdom of the gun laws. We may despair of the pernicious influence of Islamic state. But now is not the time to make political points. We are called simply to affirm our humanity and allow the Holy Spirit to interpret the deepest groans of our hearts.
It may well be that the shooting in Orlando was homophobic in nature. If so, then this event truly was homophobia in its worst form and needs to be named as such.
For my part, I am a conservative Christian who holds to the Biblical teaching on marriage as a fundamental part of my faith. I could argue my position – but again this is not the time. Let me say however as clearly as possible that this does not mean I hate or want to cause violence to anyone from the LGBT community. I hold my position only as someone who has his own shortcomings, who is aware that all of us fall short of the glory of God in so many ways, whatever our sexuality, whatever our understanding of the Christian faith.
After all, if we cannot show compassion to those who are different from ourselves or to those with whom we disagree, then I believe we are showing rather less than the love of Christ to our neighbour. And unless we keep on showing that same love Christ first showed us, then ultimately the hate and the fear stirred up by terrorism will prevail. That, it seems to me, is something that none of us should allow to happen.