LGBTQ CHRISTIANS CAN AND DO EXIST
I recently had a really eye-opening conversation that left me pretty stunned in retrospect, not necessarily because I was surprised about where the conversation went, but more because it was a powerful reminder of something I already knew to be true. The feeling that overtook me the next day was that of a hard truth finally beginning to settle into your bones and not being quite sure what you're supposed to or can even do about it. And it's been something I've been thinking of ever since.
During this conversation with a group of self-described "not religious" people, I was reminded of the fact that the perception the majority of the world holds is that faith, but Christianity in particular, is wholly incompatible with also being LGBTQ. This is far from shocking, but something I didn't realize is that many people who don't adhere to any specific religion often don't see faith as being something that's also intrinsic. It's seen as more of a choice out of convenience if it happens to improve your quality of life, with one particular comment being made that if religion is so hostile towards LGBTQ people that we should just get rid of it and move on. For me, and perhaps many LGBTQ Christians, that never really came up as an option for me, but for those on the other side, it seems to make sense that if a religious institution is continuing to condemn you, then why not just purge it from your life? This leaves LGBTQ Christians in a precarious position, because just like straight Christians, their faith isn't something they're just going to toss aside on a whim.
FAITH IS SEEN AS A CHOICE OUT OF CONVENIENCE, SO IF RELIGION IS SO HOSTILE TOWARDS LGBTQ PEOPLE, WE'RE OFFERED A SUGGESTION TO GET RID OF IT AND MOVE ON.
Though I've certainly heard of some former Christians abandoning their faith over the backlash they experienced over coming out as LGBTQ, again, that never even reached my radar as an option. At the same time, I was quite sadly reminded that from the outside, the most coherent salient perception of Christianity is that Christians as a whole are against LGBTQ people and against their lifestyle, a point that was also raised in this conversation. While I'd doubtlessly heard this before, it was disheartening to discover that it wasn't just a stereotype. The idea that all of Christianity is collectively anti-LGBTQ is something many people truly believe.
Perhaps it's just because I've been working and engaging so much with the affirming Christian populace, but I had almost forgotten that this was the general reputation of Christianity. Some Christians might be quick to point out that these assumptions come from people who are ignorant of Christianity and theology, but does it really matter? I don't think we can expect people to do their theological research before making assumptions about us, especially if Jesus said that we as His people would be known for our love. Seriously, the people I was talking with were surprised when I told them there was a segment of Christianity that was affirming and welcoming of LGBTQ people. Based on their reactions, I genuinely think it was the first time some of them had even been exposed to that notion. And that's not even to say that Christians who believe in celibacy for LGBTQ people are still vehemently opposed to anything like conversion/reparative therapy.
THE IDEA THAT CHRISTIANITY IS COLLECTIVELY ANTI-LGBTQ IS SOMETHING MANY PEOPLE TRULY BELIEVE, AND MANY ARE SURPRISED THERE'S A SEGMENT OF CHRISTIANITY THAT'S AFFIRMING.
Though I'm still in the process of sorting through all the emotions attached to it, I think overall I'm saddened by that conversation, saddened because this is how the rest of the world perceives us and saddened because I feel like it also leaves so much to be said for those who are LGBTQ Christians. If this is how the general population views Christianity, as a liability to one's spiritual, emotional, and mental health, what does it say about the lack of support people are then receiving from within Christianity? This goes for both affirming LGBTQ Christians and Christians who believe in celibacy (something I'll explore in a future post).
To me, this just means we as Christians need to start stepping up and being more like the "little Christs" our namesake comes from, because it stings my soul to hear people associate the word "Christian" with all these ugly things. I'm not ashamed to call myself a Christian, but sometimes I do get nervous saying it because I know this anti-xyz image is the image people already have in their minds.
KNOW YOU CAN BE LGBTQ AND A CHRISTIAN, AND KNOW YOU ARE LOVED AND TREASURED BY THE FATHER OF LIGHTS JUST AS YOU ARE.
Rather than being known for all the things we're against, we need to do the work to start reforming our reputation, not because appearances and our own names are on the line, but because we're putting the name of Jesus on the line as His representatives. It's not the pastors of megachurches who are the "face of Christianity." It's all of us in our daily lives.
So, for anyone out there who's believed the lies and misconceptions, just know that being a Christian and being LGBTQ are not incompatible. Know that you can be LGBTQ and a Christian, and know that you are loved and treasured by the Father of Lights just as you are.
Thanks for reading. Writing this post was important to me on so many levels. If you are struggling with some of these ideas, whether you're an LGBTQ Christian trying to reconcile those things, or whether you're just a Christian trying to understand and love better, send me a note, I would absolutely LOVE to connect and talk.
And for everyone else reading, if there's someone who you think needs to see this, please, please share this with them and encourage them to talk to you if you feel comfortable or to send me a note to start a discussion with me. I would love to talk more with anyone interested in this topic, because it's important and it matters. People need to know they're loved and that there are safe places for them to just be.