Jesus Loves Me This I Know


“How do I tell the young woman who was baptized and grew up under our eyes, bravely came out at age 19, and still comes to church that she is not “qualified” to serve?”

An elder in the San Francisco presbytery asked me this in response to a recent blog post about the defeat of Amendment 08-B, the amendment that would have opened the door to allow GLBT faithful Presbyterians to serve as ministers. The question hit home for me as a pastor, a mother and as a lifelong Presbyterian.

At my church, Community of Reconciliation, we sing this song as the children go downstairs to the fellowship hall for Childrens’ Church before the sermon. You may also have known this song all your life:

Jesus loves the little children,
All the children of the world.
Red and yellow, black and white,
They are precious in His sight.
Jesus loves the little children of the world!

Or perhaps, like me, this was among the first things you learned as a child in Sunday school: “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to Him belong. We are weak but He is strong. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. The Bible tells me so!”

Now imagine yourself having absorbed this message as a very young child, singing it with your parents at bedtime and at the beginning of Sunday school with your church friends. See yourself at summer church camp during middle school around a fire on a starry night and the whole group joins in singing these songs you all learned sometime, arms on the shoulders of the kids on either side, swinging to the rhythm.

And imagine yourself to be a child who has had, for as long as you can remember, a sense of being a little different from the other kids. Sometimes classmates have teased you because of this, but the promise of Jesus’ love has helped you stand up for yourself in the face of this bullying.

Now you are in high school and you begin to realize slowly, tentatively, that you have a crush on someone of the same sex. Suddenly, at church, a message you might have heard before only registers now because you realize this is about you. The preacher ominously thunders that God judges homosexuality to be an abomination. And you really don’t know what “an abomination” is but you are certain it can’t be any good.

Suddenly, your church tells you that God, now, does not love you and maybe – you fear – never did since you know you have not changed. This is the way you are; this is the way God knit you together in your mother’s womb. You have no choice about that — but you do have a choice about church.

I am amazed at the faith of the GLBT Presbyterians who have so absorbed the Gospel message from the earliest days of “Jesus loves me this I know” that they are able to stand firm in the face of such a contrary message and still radiate God’s love, still find their church home in the PCUSA. Such courageous witness is built on the rock of this assurance that Jesus loves all the little children of the world.

May our churches remember to be ambassadors of His love. May we welcome our GLBT young and faithful into their callings, not turn them away in shame.


Reverend Janet

5 Responses
  • Jennifer McGee on May 8, 2009

    Thank you, thank you so much for this post! I greatly appreciate it. I wholeheartedly and completely agree with you.
    Back several years ago during the other round of constitutional voting, in the Greater Atlanta Presbytery, an extremely brave 18 year old young women ( whom I had worked with in youth group at a small church) stood on the floor of Presbytery and said a similar thing-She basically said that since the entire church had been telling her that Jesus loved her and that all people are called to be part of the “preisthood of all believers” since she was a baby all through her life in church, they then, at that juncture before and during the voting, could not tell her that it was no longer true after she discerned that she was lesbian and came out. She said that she would not allow them to rescind their words that they had taught her all her life or to try to rescind God’s promises to her. It was extremely moving, powerful, and incredible. I am so thankful for her, this amazing women who I am still friends with. I just wanted to share that with you, among stories of so many amazing “clouds of witnesses” and GLBT people who have perservered, as you mentioned in your post.

  • Dan Campbell on May 9, 2009

    I do agree Christ loves us all (even atheists) just the way we are, however, Christ loves us too much to let us stay the way we are. I’ll explain; if you believe JesusChrist is God in the flesh, and, if you believe the Bible is the inspired word of God then, it would logically follow that every word(and not just those in red) are the words of Christ. So, when scripture states; ………..nor the male prostitute nor the homosexual offender………..will inherit the kingdom of God.(1Cor. 6v9) it is Christ speaking. The mesaage of the Gospel is love and acceptance, however, it is also one of repentence. We are commanded throughout the scriptures to LEAVE OUR OLD LIVES BEHIND. When we truly encounter the transforming power of the Holy Spirit we change. One cannot be gay and claim to follow Christ. The two are diametrically opposed. As someone who has been set free from this vile lifestyle, I am deeply offended to learn there are churches teaching congregants that you can be gay and still be “christian”. where is the repentence and dying to oneself and taking up the cross?
    To say being gay is okay in Jesus’ eyes then you’d have to say it’s also okay to be a pedaphile, a rapist, a racist, a serial killer, a ad infinitum and still be bornagain. “Everyone who confesses Christ MUST turn away from wickedness'(2Tim.2v19) “But mark this………..having the form of Godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them”(2Tim.3v1-5) Finally “If we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel, let them be eternally condemned. I love you and Jesus loves but he’s calling you to repentance!

  • barbara galbraith on May 9, 2009

    Yay, yay, and more YAY! Thank you for this post. I serve at a church where “all are welcome” really means it. We have a nice statement on our website that you may enjoy reading., and it is under “about us”.

    Blessings to you and your ministry – barbara galbraith

  • Janet Edwards on May 13, 2009

    Dear Dan,

    Thanks for sharing of your self and your perspective on Biblical teaching concerning homosexuality. I respect very much the ways in which you have integrated your sexuality and your faith in Christ.

    The primary question your comments raise for me is what about faithful Christians who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender who devoutly come to a different conclusion about the harmony between their sexuality and their Christian faith?

    Your comment has inspired me to reflect upon the deeply faithful LGBT Presbyterians I know. Their lives reflect the fruits of the Holy Spirit listed by Paul in Galatians 5:22 — “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control” — and their love for Jesus and for the church has taught me much. I hope to tell some of their stories in blogs to come.

    I also really like the website,, which thoroughly examines many of the texts that are important to you. I hope you find it valuable.

    I trust we can share a conviction that we all miss the mark of God’s will for us at times, even as we differ on exactly what God’s will may be. And we discern God’s will by sharing our understanding in just this kind of exchange.

    Peace, Janet

  • Francisco Overee on February 1, 2010

    Nothing else to say but,

    “Amen and Amen and Amen and AMEN!”

    Thanks for writing this, it has given me courage.

    The Christian whom Jesus loves,
    Francisco Overee

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