Despite advances in research and awareness, the LGBT community continues to suffer the social stigma of being different. This constant isolation, along with the fear of â€ścoming out,â€ť is contributing to the high prevalence of substance abuse among lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgenders.
Â According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the LGBT sector is thrice more likely to abuse narcotics and alcohol, three times more prone to engage in risky sexual behaviors (thus opening them up to HIV infection), and eight times more vulnerable to suicide and self-harm. The percentages drop significantly when they are accepted by their families and social circle.
But the stigma is very real. The fear of coming out is rooted in the fact that a large number of them are rejected by their families. In fact, the CDC reported that 4 in 10 of homeless youths in the US are members of the LGBT community.
The 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health also said that the members of the LGBT community are twice as likely to use narcotics and opioids in the past year. About 3 in 10 of them have used marijuana during the same period, and 1 in 10 of them has abused prescription opioids. Meanwhile, LGBT members age from 18-64 has reported binge-drinking more than heterosexuals.
Adolescents are especially vulnerable because their hormones are going haywire and they are still finding their identities. In fact, 9 in 10 of lesbians, gays, and bisexuals are likely to experiment with substances compared to their hetero counterparts.
God Loves the LGBT in Addiction Recovery
What you should understand is that people may have their own opinions and you may never be fully accepted by society, but thereâ€™s somebody who knows your fears and who accepts you as the perfect being that you are.
God doesnâ€™t render judgment and God doesnâ€™t make mistakes. This is important because even if society thinks you are â€śabnormal,â€ť you are perfect in Godâ€™s eyes.
The Bible does have some hardline stance on homosexuality but you have to look at it contextually. Back then, nobody really knew much about homosexuality.
Even Pope Francis has something to say about homosexuals back in 2013. He said that nobody could really judge them if they just accept the Lord as their savior and they follow His teachings. He also called those belonging to the LGBT community as â€śour brothers.â€ť
In LGBT rehab, the counselor will steer you away from these destructive thoughts so you will learn to accept the things that you canâ€™t controlâ€”such as your sexual identity, for instanceâ€”and learn to change the things you have control over, such as your addiction. Focusing on whether homosexuality is immoral or not is a useless endeavor. Itâ€™s going to be an endless debate that will take up most of your counselorâ€™s time. Instead, you will hash out with your therapist all the underlying issues that contributed to your addiction. You will also learn practical ways on how to cope with stress when you leave the safe confines of the rehab center to make sure you donâ€™t suffer a relapse.
God is Judgment But Doesnâ€™t Judge
That may be a paradoxical statement but there should be no confusion about its meaning. God may judge us for our actions but never for who we are. In the same vein, we shouldnâ€™t allow othersâ€™ opinion of us change how we see ourselves.Â
According to James 4:12:
â€śThere is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But youâ€”who are you to judge your neighbor?â€ť
Most of us have been disillusioned with organized religion. You may still consider yourself a Christian but the community is not very welcoming. And that hurts.
How can you sit there in the Church when homosexuality is a common sermon at the pulpit?
We have to remember that the bible has many interpretations according to the contextual, linguistic, and historical analysis. This is why you may find some contradictions there. But when you really read some of the words, itâ€™s not as reproachful of homosexuality.
Christian Organizations Who Embrace the LGBT Community
Of course, you donâ€™t really need an organized religion to have a relationship with God. Nevertheless, there are religious denominations in North America that are not as judgmental about your sexual identity.
Here are just some of the examples:
- Ecumenical Catholic Church
- Affirming Pentecostal Church International
- Communion of Synodal Catholic Churches
- Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists
- Eucharistic Catholic Church
- Friends of Jesus Fellowship in America
- Independent Catholic Christian Church
- Reformed Anglican Catholic Church
- The Progressive Episcopal Church
- United Church of Christ
Each one of them affirms that homosexuality is not a sin. If you feel you need to be part of a community, you will find solace in the warm embrace of these progressive churches.
Never let your actions define you. We all make mistakes. Our imperfection is the consequence of original sin. But God is always there when we are ready to accept Him.
â€śAll we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.â€ť (Isaiah 53:6)
~ by Patrick Bailey - freelance contributor June, 2019.