Choose Life or Death


Some days I just get up and go. I know my list of things to do, and I go to it. And I get a lot of work done, I like it and it’s satisfying.

Other days – I’d like it to be more days – I get up and pause, and I ask God to direct me in the day. That’s when I hear a little gem. Not always, but often. I feel nudged to call somebody I’ve needed to talk to, I suddenly have insight for something I didn’t understand yesterday. Or I’m reminded to thank my husband for being the beautiful person he is. Those are the times that life is the best, the times that bring joy and peace.

I’ve been thinking about the church’s role in this LGBTQ debate. I’ve noticed that the church has done immeasurable harm in the culture – most of us involved in this issue can see that clearly. But the church has also done immeasurable good. It has had an impact on producing better lives for people around the world.

How can this entity that is the church be so beautifully life-giving at some points and so toxic at other points? That’s the question I considered on my morning walk.

The answer emerged:

When the church is doing what Jesus asked it to do, it is beautiful.

It is life. It is joy and peace, and people are drawn to it. When it is helping the needy, defending the week, giving to the poor. It just doesn’t get any better than that. It breathes hope.

Then there’s the other part.

When the church is doing what Jesus told it NOT to do. When it is judging, directing, controlling, climbing over the powerless to grab more power. Then it is ugly and deadly.

That’s the issue in the LGBTQ debate. To decide if this is right or wrong, good or evil, we’re doing exactly what Jesus told us in no uncertain terms not to do.

I can see the result of this dichotomy in my own family. The times that I knew for sure what my kids and even my husband needed to do, and I was bound and determined to make sure they did it, it was a deathblow. It’s not my job. Even as their mother, I can only direct them so far, but they are not chess pieces to move around at my will.

Especially as they get past about age twelve, they have to have freedom, permission to make their own choices – good or bad ones. But that’s just my children. People who are not my children – like my Rob and the larger community – are not mine to direct, and I am dead wrong to try. It’s a power grab. And to grab that power is absolutely wrong.

But the times that I’m really at rest, when I listen to the Spirit tell me to be kind, to call my friend, to let my grown children make a decision I honestly don’t think is best for them – that freedom brings life and peace. (Besides, I could be wrong – it’s happened before.)

To love them and all of my community without condition gives life. It’s exactly our job as Christians.

To insist on our way as Christians in this debate is not what Jesus taught, and it is producing death.

Choose life. Literally, for heaven’s sake, choose life.

* To read more from Susan Cottrell, visit

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SUSAN COTTRELL is a national speaker, teacher, and counselor with years of Biblical study and discipleship experience. Her books include: Mom, I’m Gay – Loving Your LGBTQ Child Without Sacrificing Your Faithas well as How Not to Lose Your Teen and The Marriage Renovation. Through her nonprofit organization – – Susan champions the LGBTQ community and families with her characteristic tender-heartedness, and she zealously challenges Christians who reject them with her wise insistence that “loving God and loving others” are the foundation of the rest of the scripture, just as Jesus said.

She is the Vice-President of PFLAG Austin, and her “Mom, I’m Gay” book has been endorsed by The Human Rights Campaign and others. Sharon Groves, PhD, HRC’s Religion & Faith Program Director says, “I often get asked by parents for resources that can address the struggles of raising LGBT sons and daughters without having to leave faith behind. Susan Cottrell’s book, Mom, I’m Gay, does just that. This is the kind of book that parents will love.”

She and her husband have been married more than 25 years and have five children – one of whom is in the LGBTQ community. She lives in Austin, Texas, and blogs at and here in IMPACT Magazine’s FreedHearts and Jesus Blog columns.