If there’s anything I’ve learned in my adult life, it’s that my faith can’t be static. Or rather, what I understand can’t be static. I need to change, to understand God in new ways every day. If I don’t do that, I won’t grow.
How the church has approached LGBT people/rights has been laid on my heart the last little while. Though the relationships I wrote about were important points where my thinking was challenged, there were many others who impacted and influenced me on both sides of the debate. I could write for days and days about those people, but I won’t, because I want to bring this to a conclusion.
There’s so much to read and see out there, but I wanted a balance. I wanted to write, but I wanted people to understand where I come from. Not a place of judgement, but a place of faith. It was important to me to go through my history, and the deep conflict that I- that a lot of Christian people feel- in regards to this. And how fervently I believe that opposition to LGBT rights isn’t always rooted in hate. A lot of times, it’s based in fear, and misunderstanding. We’re guilty of getting stuck in doctrine and scripture, and while that’s mostly good in regards to what we believe, it’s important that we understand context, and really know WHY God does things the way He does.
But because of those verses- six verses in the Bible (out of over THIRTY THOUSAND in total) that seem to denounce homosexual relationships- we at the church have made this line in the sand, and don’t often think or talk about it. That’s a mistake. We need to understand the how and why of the Bible, and WHY things are the way they are.
I meant what I said in a prior post when I said that LGBT rights are one of the biggest flashpoints of this age, if not the biggest. One of the reasons that churches are bleeding members in the 20-30ish age group is because the church is perceived as being more obsessed with doctrine than love, that church is outdated, and that Christians are more judgmental than loving. That’s a problem, and it’s not something that will be corrected overnight.
So here’s the million dollar question: Does the Bible support LGBT rights? Do I? Can they be Christian?
The answer is yes. Unequivocally. Absolutely. I support my LGBT brothers and sisters, and would welcome them to my church if they chose faith. They have been hurt by the church for far too long, for no reason other than us not understanding what the Bible says.
It took me a long time to get there, but that’s where I stand. My conscience is clear, and backed by the words of God. This comes from the principles of loving God and loving your neighbour being the SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT part of what we do as Christians, and all the laws springing from that.
A friend of mine, Chris, posted something on Facebook supporting the NALT project, which was part of the inspiration for these series of posts. The summary is that NALT is an organization of Christians who support LGBT rights, and believe that LGBT people can be Christians, and that hating them is un-Biblical. Their case (which I wholly agree with) is well laid out, and Biblically based. It was amazing to read a viewpoint that supported what seemed to be morally right, and wasn’t in conflict with what I believed. We didn’t need to compromise. It was right there, all along, and we’d just missed it.
The first thing NALT has done was have Christians post videos supporting LGBT rights- that Christians are, in their words, “not all like that”. This showed that there were Christians who supported LGBT rights, encouraged LGBT people in the church, and affirmed other Christians who were afraid to admit what they thought (such as myself). Chris himself posted a powerful video about his own journey, honest and unflinching. It inspired me, got me thinking harder about this conflict I’ve felt for a while. One paragraph in this long diatrabe isn’t nearly enough credit for him, or NALT, for kicking my brain into gear.
We as Christians, myself included, have spent far too much time forgetting the basic principle of our faith, and using out-of-context Biblical passages to cover a fear and misunderstanding that we have about LGBT people in our lives, and excluding a whole section of society that needs to know God’s love, and can demonstrate that love to others in ways that we can’t. If LGBT people are on the margins, too demonstrative and flamboyant for our tastes, or too quiet and withdrawn, then WE have pushed them there.
If we believe that people are born the way they are, and can’t control who they’re attracted to- and there’s overwhelming medical evidence to support this- then it follows, logically, that God made gay people, lesbians, bisexual, and transgender to be a part of His kingdom. It’s seen otherwise because “that’s the way it’s been”, because they’re a minority, and we’re not comfortable with it. Those are all terrible reasons for this to be so, and need to change.
We have seen a great many societal changes over history. One could have easily argued once that the Bible supported slavery (nope), racist policies (nope), and the subjugation of women (nope). Once society started accepting those things, eventually, Christians studied the Bible, saw it didn’t actually support any of those things, and changed too, and we’re way better for it. Not that society is perfect in any respect for those particular issues, but that’s a whole other debate.
It’s not a shock for certain segments of society to support LGBT rights, but I wanted to be authentic in the conflict that I felt with my beliefs, which was most of the purpose behind this series of posts. I’m not perfect. People have challenged me on what I’ve written. And that’s part of the purpose. As my thinking evolved, so too did the writing and viewpoints, and I wanted it to come from a genuine place of belief and feeling, and I hope that resonated.
If we don’t want to argue semantics over Biblical interpretation, we don’t have to. It’s simple, when we break it down. Time and time again in Jesus’ day, we see Him choosing love over legalese. Jesus was at the forefront of conflict, standing in the gap for those that were less fortunate, and was someone that anyone could approach at any time. He didn’t judge. He didn’t posture. He didn’t slippery slope His fears into the worst possible outcome to inspire fervent believers. He showed love and shared the Word with everyone, and let them make their choice and repent to God. How can we do that when we’re finding reasons to exclude people rather than include them?
Are there legitimate reasons someone can’t be a Christian? Yes. Absolutely. But why is attraction- a biological thing- considered to be a sin? Who’s it hurting? No one, when it’s done correctly, and not under the pretense of forcing someone to be what they’re not. Gay marriage is happening in a lot of places, and the world appears to be puttering along, same as usual. Society is not caving in on itself, and we’ve not descended into hedonistic anarchy, as some have suggested would happen. Christians have been encouraging this conflict by taking this stand against it, and condemning the lifestyle of LGBT people, denying them the love of God that is available freely to all who choose that path, and using scripture to support that condemnation in society in general.
We’re not Jesus, and can’t expect to be. But we need to be the closest thing to Him that the world will see, and we’ve got some work to do on that end. How Christians have treated LGBTs has been a problem, and needs to stop. That’s not something that’ll be fixed by one guy waxing endlessly on his blog, or a few people posting videos online through NALT. Changing attitudes and thoughts is one way we can start. The real work, full acceptance and understanding, will take time, and courage, and careful thought. It will be divisive, and challenging. People won’t like it. But it’s starting to happen. And it’s wonderful.
As much as anything, we as Christians need to stop fear mongering, and letting that colour our viewpoints of other people. LGBT people aren’t going to destroy heterosexual marriages, they aren’t going to be the downfall of society, and they’re just as capable of being faithful, loving, and kind as anyone else. Adam, and Evan, and so many others demonstrated that to me, challenged me to see beyond my programming, and come to an understanding of God’s word that I wouldn’t have had if I hadn’t met them. My conscience is clear on this, for this first time in ages, and I feel strongly that God wants to challenge Christians on this issue.
That’s the challenge. Do we see God’s love there, in others, in people that fear or don’t understand? Do we see the chance to show it? Or do we look for reasons to reject them?
I think that’s all. Thanks for reading. You’re pretty cool.