The False Narrative of Gay vs. Christian
Here we all are again, at the beginning of Pride month and just days after the Supreme Court of the United States weighs in on one person’s “religious liberty” vs. another person’s pursuit of happiness.
Millions (hopefully just thousands) of Americans are rejoicing for what some see as a protection of religious freedom and others, like I, see as simply the right to discriminate against LGBT citizens based on a narrow(minded) interpretation of a subset of one religion’s (mis)understanding of a few words of scripture. It seems that some “Christians” are horrified by the trajectory of their neighbors’ increasing civil equality. They feel threatened, as if their own rights are somehow diminished by the sharing of civil rights they have always enjoyed. Some folks actually believe deep in their hearts that God will punish them if they do anything at all that cold appear to approve of what they sincerely believe is punishable by an eternity of hell-fire suffering. I feel sad for them because these folks are genuinely afraid of God and that to THIS Christian’s heart is contrary to everything I understand the Gospel of Jesus be about.
It simply is not true that ALL Christians are busy hand lettering their prized “no gays allowed” signs, not even close. In fact, there are millions of Christians who not only support marriage equality but who fully affirm the lives and loves of queer folks like me. Also real and true is the fact that there are queer folks like me who ARE Christian. Together, today and tomorrow, we will continue to work and pray for the light of God to illuminate a path forward in faith where we truly believe that nothing, nothing, nothing can separate us from the love of God. (Romans 8:31-39)
Please remember that the media in all its self-serving, greedy glory wants to keep Americans misinformed and stridently afraid of one another. They do so by using people as pawns in the high-stakes game of capture the most eyeballs because eyeballs equals money paid by advertisers who also grow fat off pedaling fear. In this case, the media profits off of people by shining a spotlight on the self-identified Christians who want to hide their ignorance behind scripture to discriminate (or politicians who feign the appearance of piety to manipulate the masses). You don’t need me to point out who they are, you can easily see them on the nightly news, running amok in the blogosphere and likely a few bible drive-bys in your Facebook news feed. I am not that kind of Christian. You likely are not either. And yet, across nearly every news platform, the media typically identifies those who discriminate based on sexual orientation simply as Christians as if that is a single, blanket term. This is a gross, intentional misrepresentation that ignores the complex landscape that is Christianity in America.
What I want you to know and trust is that there are good people, loving people, cultural Christians or out-right Jesus freaks (like me), who are living as examples of God’s radical hospitality today and every day.
We come in all shapes and sizes – individuals, prayer partners, Sunday School classes, campus ministries, congregations and whole denominations that affirm that each individual is a child of God, recognizing “that we are called to be like one body with many members, seeking with others of every race, ethnicity, creed, class, age, gender, marital status, physical or mental ability, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression to journey together toward the promised realm of God.” – (from the Open and Affirming statement of Old South Church, United Church of Christ, Boston, MA)
We come from neighborhoods, towns, cities and states all over the country – yes, even the deep south of ‘Murica.
And there are Christians who are learning and leaning into this new day with grace and compassion, even if they are still wildly uncomfortable, to faithfully discerning how the Spirit is moving us all closer to the beloved community.
What I invite you to do is to look around for the Christians in your life (or be the Christians in someone else’s life), in your news feed and in the world who are a lifting up voices of faithful affirmation this day and to then share that in what ever way you feel called. – Let US be the voice of the people who the media willfully ignores. Let US be the people’s microphone and magnify Love that might not sell ads but just might save a life.
And I ardently implore the media to work a little harder to fairly represent the full spectrum Christian voices in this ever evolving conversation. It really is ok to publish more than fear and loathing, I promise.
Here are a few resources to get us started. Everyone is welcome to share your own LGBT affirming faith resources in the comments below.
Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists Members of the Association of Welcoming & Affirming Baptists (AWAB) are churches, organizations, and individuals who are willing to go on record as welcoming and affirming all persons without regard to sexual orientation or gender identity, and who have joined together to advocate for the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons within Baptist communities of faith.
Believe Out Loud – is about helping churches live out this Christian principle by becoming fully inclusive of all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Brethren/Mennonite Council for LGBT Interests– The mission of BMC is to cultivate an inclusive church and society and to care for the Mennonite and Brethren lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and allied community.
Catholic – DignityUSA works for respect and justice for all gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons in the Catholic Church and the world through education, advocacy and support.
Disciples of Christ – The Gay, Lesbian and Affirming Disciples Alliance is a presence working for the full dignity and integrity of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and affirming people within the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
Episcopalian – Integrity USA Since 1974, Integrity has been a faithful witness of God’s inclusive love to the Episcopal Church and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. We are working for the full inclusion of all the baptized in all the sacraments.
Lutherans Concerned/North America works for the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Lutherans in all aspects of the life of their Church and congregations. They provide a place of comfort and safety. They reach out and teach that Christ’s message, the Gospel, is for everyone equally. They call for the blessing of committed and covenanted same-gender relationships, and for the ordination of those called to minister.
PC(USA) More Light Presbyterians – a network of people seeking the full participation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people of faith in the life, ministry and witness of the Presbyterian Church (USA)
United Church of Christ Open & Affirming (ONA) Program – ONA is “shorthand” for Open and Affirming, the designation for congregations, campus ministries, and other bodies in the United Church of Christ which make public statements of welcome into their full life and ministry to persons of all sexual orientations and gender identities.
United Methodist Reconciling Ministries Network mobilizes United Methodists of all sexual orientations and gender identities to transform our Church and world into the full expression of Christ’s inclusive love.
That All May Freely Serve advocates for an inclusive church for all who are disenfranchised: A church that honors diversity and welcomes lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons as full members. Full membership includes eligibility for ordination to the offices of elder, deacon, and Minister of Word and Sacrament.
The Institute for Welcoming Resources at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is a networking hub for movement leaders and a source of downloadable toolkits and curriculum for your church.
[feature image by ActiveSteve – Creative Commons license. Use does not indicate artist endorsement]