I needed to see Love, Simon. My specific ministry focus on LGBT+ outreach dictated that I see it. But more than my ministry focus, even as an almost middle-aged married man with same-gender attractions since pre-double digits, I needed to see it.

I know that Love, Simon is “Side A,” or affirming, and does not mention Jesus — minus some swearing. I am also keenly aware that this movie could lead a teen on the fence between faith and sexuality to abandon their faith.

But I walked out of Love, Simon truly blessed by God for having seen it.

Spoilers ahead.

The point of the movie is this: you shouldn’t have to hide you are. You should be able to be honest about every part of yourself and be accepted and loved for it.

And your friends and family should be the biggest supporters of your life as you do so.

Simon struggles to find this support. He closes off private and significant parts of his life. When all of his friends talk about their romantic interests, he must remain calm, overcome disinterest, and feign heterosexual desires. He’s afraid of what will happen if/when people find out he’s gay.

When Simon opens himself completely to an anonymous online pen-pal, “Blue,” he finds a new joy he hadn’t known before. And he quickly falls in love.

Then, because life isn’t perfect, Simon goes through a season of blackmailing, outing, shunning, mockery, and depression. He forces himself to come out to his family and shuts out everyone, especially after he loses “Blue.”

He slowly regains his relationships. His family surrounds him with love and acceptance. His friends forgive him for the past and embrace his new identity. And even his school takes a stand for treating others with respect.

The movie, of course, ends with Simon meeting “Blue” and getting his romantic happy ending. The movie ends with Simon, his boyfriend, and his best friends as happy-go-lucky teens with bright futures ahead of them.

So, how did God bless me through this film?

One scene did it. The scene between Simon and his dad. Watch the clip below:

Simon’s dad’s words — “I just want you to know that I love you. And I wouldn’t change anything about you.” — hit me in the theater.

I realized those are the words I’ve always wanted from my own father. Those are the words I’ve wanted from my brothers and leaders at the church. And they are the words I’ve longed to hear all my life — that I am loved and accepted for who I am.

Now, I know Christians like to pull out the phrase: “God loves you as you are, but He loves you too much to leave you that way.”

Honestly, we need to retire that statement. The only thing God wants to “change” is my using all of myself to glorify and obey Him. It’s not about changing myself — it’s about changing my actions. And there’s a difference.

What I do does not define me. What I do flows out of me — and because of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, I do things that honor and glorify God.

Jesus told the Pharisees to clean the inside of the cup; He didn’t say to make a new cup. He told the woman in John to “go and sin no more,” not “go and change everything about yourself.”

As I’ve searched the Bible, I see where God grows and develops us. I see that we are to be “transformed by the renewing of our minds.” We are to “put to death the deeds of the flesh.”

We are “new creatures.”

But this sounds like it affects our relationship with obedience to sin versus obedience to Christ. And doesn’t Paul say somewhere that we are to “remain in the situation in which we were saved”?

Perhaps it is possible that there are things about ourselves that God does not want to change — things that He looks at us as His children and says, “I love you and wouldn’t change this about you.”

As I left the theater, I ruminated over the words of Simon’s dad. I left in some grief, because I know I can never have that kind of conversation with my earthly father.

But I felt God saying something similar to Simon’s dad’s statement.

“I love you, Dean. And I made you the way I wanted to make you. And I wouldn’t change any of it.”

Though my story ended differently than Simon’s, I still felt a kinship with him. Both of us have a father who loves us dearly. His is played by Josh Duhamel. Mine is God above.

And I know He loves me and accepts me.

Did you see Love, Simon? Do you yearn for an earthly father’s acceptance? Do you struggle to believe you can be loved as you are?

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