The other day I tweeted, The diff b/w LGBT affirming & LGBT welcoming is the diff b/w “Welcome!” and “Welcome, you abomination! Did you bring money? (Tweet that yourself.) It brought the usual fusillade of fussing. So I thought I’d take a quick moment to elaborate.
If I’m gay (and perfectly fine with being gay), and thinking about attending your church, learning that your church welcomes me tells me zilch about the one thing in which I’m certainly primarily interested, which is how your church feels about the fact that I’m gay. The only thing “Welcome!” tells me is that it’s your church’s official policy to get as many people as possible to attend there.
Well, duh. It’s a church. That’s like bees hanging a “Welcome, Pollen!” sign outside of their hive. (I mean, you know: if bees could write. And knew how to use thumbtacks. And had thumbs.)
As a prospective parishioner of your church, what I want to know is if all of me is welcome there—my gayness included. Because if it’s not, then … well, then try to imagine you (if you’re straight) going to a church with a sign outside of it that says, “Come on in! If you’re straight, God deplores you! But we won’t bring that up if you won’t!”
That is to a welcoming what a belly-flop is to a swan dive.
Today, all churches know that when it comes to LGBT people, their choice is to be affirming or welcoming. A church that declares itself affirming is telling the world that … well, that it takes the Bible seriously. A church that can only bring itself to call itself welcoming is declaring to the world that, at best, it simply hasn’t yet decided where it stands on the gay “issue.”
And that is the kind of church for which those of us who are affirming should pray.
(Next time I’ll write on my remarkable experience yesterday delivering the service messages at Missiongathering Church.)