Searching For God In Religion: Day 2 of 6


Pure & Genuine Religion

-Susan Cottrell

“Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” James 1:27

Katie messaged me: “So this is the part where my family disowns me because I came out as lesbian.” My heart broke. This young woman has been navigating this journey for a long time, trying to reconcile in her own heart the vile teaching of her church about “gay people” and her growing discovery that she is, in fact, a lesbian and that isn’t changing. She did not ask for this, she did not choose it, it is what it is. And her family has rejected her—in the name of Christ. Rejection is not love, and it is not Christ.

By contrast, pure and genuine religion—a pure and genuine commitment to God—is about caring for people in tangible ways—providing for those in distress. Katie certainly has found herself in distress, discovering this unexpected orientation her family and church community have long made clear they consider evil. If religion prevents you from embracing those you were told to love—namely your own daughter—then it is not pure, and it is not genuine. It is as impure and disingenuous as you can get.

Oh, yes, that part about “refusing to let the world corrupt you.” Yeah, you may have noticed that the world tends to reward the powerful and trample the disempowered. The world doesn’t take care of its neediest members, including outcast women and abandoned children. To jump on the scale and further the imbalance against the disadvantaged is the very definition of letting the world corrupt you.

God help us right the wrongs done against those in need, like Katie and the millions of others who need our caring and our help. Only then can we hope to find pure and genuine religion. 


Susan Cottrell is the prominent voice for faith parents of LGBTQI children. She is an international speaker, author and spiritual director. Through her nonprofit organization—FreedHearts—Susan champions the LGBTQI community and families with her characteristic tender-heartedness, and she zealously challenges Christians who reject them with her wise insistence that love—of God and others—is the foundation of faith. She spent 25 years in the non-affirming Evangelical church, is the Founder and President of FreedHearts, has a Master of Arts in Theological Studies, served as the Vice-President of PFLAG Austin (Texas), and was featured on ABC's 20/20, Nightline and Good Morning America. Her books “Mom, I’m Gay”—Loving Your LGBTQ Child and Strengthening Your Faith (published by Westminster John Knox Press), and True Colors - Celebrating the Truth and Beauty of the Real You, have been endorsed by The Human Rights Campaign, PFLAG, The Gay Christian Network and many others. She and her husband Rob have been married for 30 years, have five children, two of whom are in the LGBTQI community, and live in Austin, Texas.