“Be brave enough to start a conversation that matters.” –Dau Voire
Let’s just jump in and talk about the LGBTQ+ community and the church. But first, I want to ask the reader to be mindful of the fact that there are actual human beings whose lives are affected by how we respond to matters such as these. We will not all agree and that is okay. But please read it through a lens of respect, kindness, sensitivity, and compassion, as if speaking of your child, your best friend, or your dearly beloved grandma.
There was recently an episode of Queer Eye on Netflix (Season 2, Episode 1: God Bless Gay) that everyone should watch. Seriously. If you haven’t seen it, I urge you to please watch it. Between that episode and Jen Hatmaker’s recent post (see here) about her church and #freemomhugs at the Pride Parade in Austin, it feels like our country is ready to turn a corner. The culture is there, and the church is lollygagging behind. But I have hope that they will catch up. I also recently heard this Laura Jean Truman quote, and it just struck me – “I don’t need you to tell me God loves me. I need you to tell the Church that God loves me.”
I’m fairly new to Christian church culture.
I didn’t grow up in church and have held strong to my pre-faith beliefs on LGBTQ+ matters. I was an Ally before I knew it had a name. According to the PFLAG (Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) website, an Ally “is a term used to describe someone who is supportive of LGBTQ individuals and the community, either personally or as an advocate.” My husband and I are raising our children to be followers of Jesus, which for us includes being an Ally, being inclusive, being loving, compassionate, kind, and appreciative of differences. Kids see things so purely, and it’s been a joy to witness them come to these conclusions so simply and organically.
In my heart, being a follower of Jesus while simultaneously loving and affirming the LGBTQ+ community has never been conflicting, as I believe they are not mutually exclusive. I used to feel that maybe I was one of the few. But I was wrong. There are many people who are educated, know the Bible back and forth, know and love Jesus, and still affirm LGBTQ+ community members. There are authors, theologians, pastors, priests, professors, church goers, followers of Jesus, moms and dads, and so many others that are on the same page. People are braver together, and more and more of us are standing with those that are marginalized.
I used to think it was really complicated.
I thought I needed to do extensive Bible studying and research in order to align my natural feelings with my faith. But with the help of some very wise counsel and prayer, I have learned that it really is very simple. Love. Your. Neighbor. Not love your neighbor if… Simply love your neighbor. Without prerequisites. Love with conditions is no love at all. Jesus was pretty obvious – “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31
Tragically, there are devastating numbers of gay and transgendered youth that are associated with suicide, self harm, violence, sex trafficking, homelessness, and drug use. Kids are dying. Meanwhile, today another parent will tell their gay or transgendered child they are no longer considered their son or daughter. They just don’t know how to love their child and that is heartbreaking and tragic.
Maybe you feel differently than I do about the LGBTQ+ Community.
If this is all too much, I urge you to challenge yourself. Read or listen to some of the resources below and give yourself time before drawing hard lines. And remember – people were once kicked out of the church for saying that the Earth was round.
Father Greg Boyle is a Jesuit priest, founder of Homeboy Industries and author of Tattoos on the Heart. As he says, “You can’t demonize somebody you know.” So get to know someone who is different than you. Get to know someone you disagree with. Listen to their story. And maybe then we will start to see the humanity we share with each other.
Here are some podcasts, people, blogs, websites, and books worth checking out (some specifically related, others that generally aided me on my faith journey):
People, Websites and Blog Posts:
Tattoos on the Heart by Father Gregory Boyle
Everybody, Always by Bob Goff