Steve Saint’s Shares His Thoughts on the Orlando Tragedy
June 12th 2016, I woke up earlier than usual because my phone ringer was turned all the way up and I had received a text message reminding me that 4 years ago (1460 painful nights, mornings, days and evenings ago) I set out to do a 10 minute experiment to measure the lift generated by a wing mounted to the roof of an old car. I intended to determine whether the wing I was testing could be adapted to the ITEC flying car.
That 10 minute experiment and resulting accident radically changed my life. I predict that for the next few years people around the world are also going to remember June 12; not 6/12/12, but 6/12/16; the day when a young man killed or wounded 99 random people in an Orlando nightclub.
I have a feeling that June 12 might end up being a turning point in the “land of the free and the home of the brave.” The incredible attention this terrible act of violence has attracted has partly been an act of grief. But it has also seemed to me that this has been used as an opportunity to show solidarity and acceptance of alternative lifestyles as mainstream.
The only intolerance allowed from here on will be intolerance of intolerance. I believe we have reached a point in the “evolution” of popular thought where anyone who believes in any unchanging life code will be seen as a dangerous radical. As I mull over the terrible actions of one man killing 49 others who were innocent of trying to harm him, my mind wanders over more and more to the incredible reaction this tragedy is eliciting around the world. From all over the globe there has been an outpouring of desire to show solidarity with people defined by an acronym that has become the battle cry for egalitarianism and against anyone who believes in a fixed code of conduct, be it 10 commandments or 66 books of them. Any limitation of personal freedom is now suspect.
There are places where coming out has meant being disowned by family and friends for centuries; where admitting to living an alternate lifestyle is a sentence of loneliness and possibly death. I am speaking of places where severe discrimination against Christ followers has created an environment that is surprisingly conducive to the spread of Jesus’s Gospel.
When Ginny and I call our still growing clan together to celebrate our monthly birthdays, I instinctively shudder to think what trials our 19 grandchildren will face in the coming storm. Then I remember that “Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world.” (1 John 4:4) Our little ones don’t have to be strong because “His strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
Now I ask you to consider an even weightier matter related to 6/12/16. Christ insisted that we love our neighbor as we love ourselves. (Mark 12:31)
How many of us heard the news of the terrorist attack in Orlando and impulsively despaired that we weren’t there to take a bullet for one of those who were killed or wounded? – I confess, not me.
How many of us really understand that our “Rule Book” says we are not to be of the world but we are to be in the world? – I confess, not me.
How many of us willingly admit that our temptations and sins, though more culturally acceptable are just as onerous to God? (One who says “you fool” is just as guilty …) – I confess again, not me.
How many of us are bothered by the institutional lie inscribed on our legal tender that claims to the world that this country (where divorce is prolific, where abortion is legal and abundant, where wealth is popularly held as a demonstration of God’s favor, where same sex marriage is now guaranteed by our constitution, where our courts dispense an abundance of law but little justice) is really a country where “In God We Trust”?
When Grandfather Mincaye and I were able to travel and address audiences together, hundreds and hundreds of people told me it was an incredible demonstration of what God can do to transform a person. I never thought to ask them which of us they were referring to. There are people all around us who need to know that God loves them and can cleanse them like He has you and me.
The LGBT community has been condemned, ostracized and persecuted here for a very long time. The justification for this attitude has been that their lifestyles violate Christian standards. But Christ hung out with and befriended prostitutes, swindlers, fornicators, betrayers and bigots. They became his followers. That is who Christians were. Paul makes that clear in his first letter to the members of the Christ Followers in Corinth where sin and debauchery were the norm rather than the exception. Paul wrote:
“Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)
The bottom line is this. There are hundreds of millions of people isolated from us geographically, politically, culturally and spiritually who don’t have any idea that God loves them and wants to adopt them.
As the media continues to share the stories of this horrible day of infamy, may we focus on Christ and His purpose through our lives. How can we use our time, resources and talents to let them know who He is and the good news of the Gospel?
It has been four years since Steve Saint suffered a severe spinal chord injury that has made him an “incomplete quadriplegic.”
Watch “The Next Chapter” videos that document his recovery.