A fair number of religious people—and I’m not talking about just Christians here, but of all religions which follow a single deity referred to as God in one way or another—base their rejection of the LGBT community on their faith. It’s their perfect right to do so, but I think they’re not considering something when they claim God doesn’t want us LGBT people.

First of all, why would God, who has sole (I’m arguing to the religious folk here) purview over life and the bestowal of it, create something He doesn’t love?

Think about it. God’s greatest injunction, from what I understand, in any religious text encouraging to worship of Him, is to love. I know for certain that Jesus has enjoined all Christians to Love Your Neighbor, and I know with equal certainty, He did not qualify that command with who we may exclude or deny our neighborly love. If I am wrong in this with regards to things like Judaism and the Muslim religion, please feel free to correct me, but, in all I have heard, Love is the greatest commandment God gives to His followers, no matter what religion He’s speaking through.

God has no reason to create an entire society of people He hates. If God didn’t want us to be here, none of us would be born gay, or transgender, or in any other way queer. God does have the power to eliminate aspects of gender, personality, and character He doesn’t agree with, after all, so why wouldn’t He eliminate homosexuality, gender dysphoria, and other gender/sexuality issues at some point between conception and birth if He didn’t like it?

And don’t anybody try to tell me God doesn’t make mistakes. Of course He doesn’t! Nobody alive on this planet, in the past, present, or who will live in the future, is a mistake made by God. It’s we humans who make mistakes—all the time. God just loves us enough to let us do so, because He hopes we’ll learn from our mistakes.

And, that is what I think we LGBT people are. Lessons. For ourselves and each other and for everyone else in the world. God put us here to test all of humanity, to see if we’re obeying His highest command of loving one another.

Feminism and women’s battle for equal pay is part of God’s test of how well we love one another as well. People born with mental illness or some sort of learning disability are also God’s test of our love for one another. The consciousless people who murder—and those who do so for whatever reason they contrive besides being consciousless—are God’s test of how well we love one another. Drug dealers, thieves, gang members, and every criminal is God’s test of our capacity of loving our neighbor. How we treat the homeless is another test of God’s in loving our neighbors.

Sometimes showing God we love our neighbors may require we forgive them—but God doesn’t then demand we forget the offenses given, and He’s willing to let us protect ourselves from further similar mistreatment if we wish. At times, God asks us to stand up for someone else, someone who is weaker, or afraid, or in some other way challenged to prove our love for our fellow man. And sometimes God just wants us to treat our fellow humans with respect, dignity, and courtesy to show Him we love our neighbors.

To be clear, one doesn’t need to adhere to any particular religion to do this. I’ve known several nonreligious people who managed to love their neighbors quite successfully without the aid of a holy text or spiritual leader to tell them what to do. Conversely, I’ve seen strict adherence to religious texts and/or the words of a spiritual leader mislead religious people regarding the injunction to love our neighbors. Sadly, sometimes the very religion we seek to obey clouds God’s will for us; the key, I think, is to remember to the best of one’s ability the injunction to love above all other things.

I would like to see everyone strive to love their neighbor. The world would be a much more peaceful—and happier—place.