I’ve been a Christian my entire life. I was blessed to be raised to know that I am a beloved child of God by so many wonderful people in Methodist and Presbyterian churches. It wasn’t until I got to high school that someone asked me if I was “saved,” and I found out that to a lot of Christians, I’m apparently some kind of heathen. Uh, I never “met Jesus” because Jesus has always been there? I can’t meet Him any more than I can meet my own heartbeat. I got saved 2,000 years ago, I guess? I grew up in a tradition with women pastors, now a tradition which allows LGBTQI people to serve as pastors and be married in church. My church is officially a “More Light” Presbyterian church, committed to pursuing justice and full inclusion for marginalized people and examining ourselves and our space to make sure we are on the right track.
I understand that Evangelicals are my brothers and sisters in faith (though I’m not always sure they feel the same way about me), but a lot of the time I find myself wondering if we actually read the same book and know the same Lord. We come from very different planets. And they’re the ones who keep adding doctrinal statements as if they were new creeds, as if sexuality is an essential tenet of the faith to agree upon (look at any of the historical creeds and see if it comes up…it doesn’t), instead of a place where people of faith can agree to disagree. This week, I’m again baffled as in the middle of all that is going on in the world. a bunch of Evangelical leaders have gotten together to condemn some of the most marginalized people in the world: LGBTQI folks.
This week?! When millions of people are underwater, when Nazis march in our streets with the approval of the president white Evangelicals elected, when nuclear war seems a realistic threat? This is a week when Christians should be showing people the face of Jesus, and instead this group has decided to turn Christ’s back (they presume to speak for Him) on LGBTQI people. We should be making the news for our compassion, love, and service to the people suffering the devastation of hurricane Harvey. We should be making the news for our condemnation of white supremacy and our bold proclamation that we are all one in Christ Jesus, all beloved children of God. We should be making the news by proclaiming our allegiance to the Prince of Peace in the face of violence and war.
But instead, we’re making the news for once again announcing what everyone already knew about Evangelicals: they are not down with The Gays (or lesbians, or gender nonconforming/nonbinary/genderqueer people, or trans folks, or people who are intersex, or women who question their idea of Biblical gender roles). Did anyone actually have any doubts that they believe that? Did we really need a new reminder?
I find myself wanting to scream: this is not my faith! This is not the Jesus I know, love, and follow! This is not my tradition.
But I know that this isn’t actually about me, but about the vulnerable people who will continue to be hurt by this kind of theology and rhetoric. The gay kids kicked out of their homes to live on the street by “Christian” parents. The kids sent to (or desperate adults who choose) conversion therapy to have spirit and self-concept broken in the name of God. The people who will be driven to suicide because they feel that not even God can love them as they are. The people who will be ostracized and bullied by people who claim to follow Jesus. These aren’t thought experiments, but very real people who will experience very real pain and violence because words and theologies have consequences.
If you are LGBTQI, the thing I want you to know more than anything is: you are a beloved child of God. You are made in God’s image. You are the creation of a God who loves diversity and difference. You are a work of art. You do not need to change who you are in order to be loved by God, or to serve God, or to belong to a community of believers. You are worthy and acceptable. Period.
I also want you to know that there are millions of us who love Jesus and you, too. Who would welcome you next to us in our pews, who would bless and support your loves, and who would be proud to serve and change the world alongside you. You are welcome in our homes and hearts. You are welcome at our tables. You are welcome in our workplaces. You are welcome in the bathroom stall next to us. We are your brothers and sisters, and there are actually a lot of us that the Evangelicals and Nashville Statement writers do not speak for. We will speak out with you against hate and discrimination and oppression. We will examine the ways we are complicit in your marginalization. We will check our privilege. We will work to make our spaces and our society ever more welcoming. We are with you and for you, and so is Jesus.