Gay people aren’t the first group you’d imagine strolling into a church. They’re not usually invited with open arms, wrapped in a rainbow flag adorned with a sewn-on cross, and told that they’re always welcome. That’s why I like to tell people that I’m in seminary. I get a lot, and I mean a lot, of ‘Oh, really?’s and ‘hmph’s. It’s also fun to tell people that I question the entire thought of Christianity as a whole. Considering my Facebook news feed is (and please read this as if you are Hilary Faye a la Saved!) filled with Christ’s love!, I like to pose awkward questions to those people as much as I can. I especially appreciate when these photos, set over a lake scene with some form of Lucida Handwriting-esque font, tell me who to vote for, state that war should be done as it was in Biblical times, and that God forgives my big queer sins – just don’t do ‘em again. Okie doke.
I look at my girlfriend and I’m always amazed. She grew up in the church, she was employed by the church, and she was let go from the church for being a lesbian. In what way is that filled with Christ’s love? The son of God who hung with hookers and freaks surely wouldn’t push away one who follows the path of Jesus and loves in the way we all naturally love, right?
I hear of a lot of people in the LGBTQ community who feel uncomfortable even in the most affirming of churches. Those who grew up in churches and came out with the expectation that they were going to be comforted in their time of need were so let down by the community that swore upon baptism to walk with them…who can blame them for feeling scorned? Why would anyone ever want to return to the doors that once pushed them into the bitter cold?
LGBTQ persons, for the most part, learn to make a family out of the group in which they feel welcomed during their coming out process. Even if it is one other person, you’ll hear them refer to them in a sibling-esque way much of the time. Those who are there in the coming out process, even if it’s just to grab a cup of coffee and listen, are the ones who have the highest regards to them. Why can’t those people be the church? Why can’t those people do as Jesus so humbly did with ease? Why are judgments so easily cast when it’s not anyone’s place to do so?
I hold dual membership in the United Methodist Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Until I came out, I had no idea that the ELCA even considered themselves reconciling, because my home church never said a word about it. I was employed with them for a year with no clue. That’s not the open love of Jesus. How many people did I talk to who were looking for pastoral care for LGBTQ issues
that felt uneasy mentioning anything to me? How do they feel now when I come to visit? I have no clue. It’s the item that’s swept under the rug by my home church and by many “affirming” churches.
Without sticking with the totally stereotypical queer stigma, what’s wrong with being loud and proud? Why can’t the church (and I’m talking about all churches here) see the hurt they directly cause to the LGBTQ community? If these churches could only see that their membership, which they so dearly hold near for both tithing reasons and familial congregational needs, could increase so greatly by just doing as Jesus did, it would be a different world indeed. It’s not rocket science: do as Jesus did. Love the LGBTQ community and see immediate results. That’s all we’ve wanted from the start. We didn’t choose this life; Jesus didn’t choose to be who he was, and yet here we all are. It’s time to start living the way we all say we do: in the footsteps of the one who loved all and judged none.