Becoming an LGBT Ally

I’m guessing that most Theoblogy readers are supporters of GLBT persons in the church. But if you’re not, or if you’ve got friends who are on the fence on this issue, Kimberly Knight has 12 (beautiful, graceful, non-judgmental) steps to becoming an ally in 2013. Here are three of them:

Kimberly Knight

3. Invite -

Invite the Holy Spirit into your heart to do a new thing.

Invite new ideas to your table.

Invite a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender friend to lunch, dinner, out for drinks, or for a rousing round of mini-golf  and ask them about themselves.

Invite yourself to be fully present.

Invite your neighbor into your heart.

4. Listen -

Listen to the stories of their life.

Listen deeply for places where their story might sound a bit like yours.

Listen for places where your stories intersect.

Listen for how their story is interwoven with God’s.

Listen to your heart.

5. Ask -

Ask yourself if you are willing to hear honest answers.

Ask a LGBT person if you can ask them questions that seem weird or uncomfortable – not because you want them to feel weird or uncomfortable or because you are hoping to trip them up but because you need to learn a few things (yes, that means you have to acknowledge a little bit of ignorance and fear but that is actually wise and courageous).

Ask real questions, not veiled, loaded questions that are meant to corner, cajole or convert.

Ask yourself if you learned something new.

Read the rest: 12 steps to becoming an LGBT ally in 2013.

  • chris

    All great questions and thoughts for anyone to ask themselves for any reason – including the orientation in question. While I am sympathetic to the orientation I continue to ask the question of creation – if God is making all things new, not necessarily a return to “eden” but as Eden was born out of God’s voice “ordering” a creation in order that that creation may co-create or continue creating in His image. How does the orientation in question do that? Please do not misunderstand my question with hate language, for a simple question and/or disagreement does not equal hate, fear, phobia or the like; it is simply the continuation of the conversation.

  • Kevin

    Thank you for the heads up! I have some evangelical family members who are THINKING about being on the fence on this issue. (Baby steps.) They HAVE shown a willingness to read other perspectives which is a huge thing. I will read the entire article and pass it on.

  • http://www.rjaypearson.com R. Jay Pearson

    This is excellent Tony. There’s an old saying: It’s hard to hate up close.

    Many people’s ideas are too frequently based upon long reinforced misperceptions and misrepresentations. And this can apply to anything. But with gay people, the reinforced perception and misrepresentation about us is that we are all sexually depraved sub-human beings who are slaves to all forms of vile practices.

    The truth is, with the exception of orientation, gay people are no different than heterosexual people. We play sports. We vote. We go to church. We have our favorite TV shows. We read blogs. We date. We fall in love. Some of us get married, and even divorced. Many of us have kids. We work to make a living. We have friends. We pay rent and bills, and even the occasional traffic ticket. We laugh. We cry. And so on.

    What I like about the three points you present is that it challenges the non-gay person to wrestle with their misinformed perceptions and actually get to know those who they may perceive to be “the other.” And the best part of the list is where it encourages the person to listen. (And unfortunately, too many have been eager to “listen” only for the sake of trying to “save” us or “cure” us. Motive is key.)

    Part of this, by the way, must include an encouragement to gay people to listen back. Those who have misperceptions about us also have their own stories. And those stories are important to them, and relevant to how they see the world. So we need to listen to them as well if we are to really experience a genuine sharing of one another’s humanity.

    • Ric Shewell

      Thanks for saying this R Jay. I’m an ally and a pastor at a church. One day, my wife and I were riding bikes down town, a few hours after a pride parade. My wife was just a head of me on the road. While I was riding on the road, a group of women coming from the parade jumped out in front of me from the side walk, forcing me to stop my bike, and then they yelled at me and harassed me for not accepting them and being an oppressive white man. So they yelled at me for about 15 seconds, and then walked away. I was pissed and thinking, “What the hell? I’m not even white.” My wife was upset to, they didn’t bother her, but we were mostly sad. We live in a red state, and I know marginalized people can feel cornered just about any where they go here, but, come on, screaming at a stranger on the street? They would have hopefully found in us a couple of decent people.

      Anyway, I don’t really know why I share that story. But I agree with you, that communication is a two-way street. Unfortunately, being a perceived oppressive straight white man, I can’t exactly say to a marginalized community, “Listen, have some understanding.”

      for what its worth.

      • http://www.rjaypearson.com R. Jay Pearson

        Hi Ric. Thanks for sharing the story. Sadly, there are extreme activists on both sides of the divide. I’ve known a few such activists in the gay community, and in almost each case I’d say the individual had some serious emotional and perhaps psychological issues. And they thrive at public events like pride parades or festivals. Sorry to hear you were the object of some unnecessary anger. It’s never fun to be the object of random scorn by an angry pack of drunk lesbians.

        But I’d say by and large most activists, while driven, are pretty much intellectually and emotionally stable.

        If I ever meet you, I will refer to you as OWM (oppressive white man). Though I promise I won’t yell. :-)

  • Kimberly

    Tony,

    Thanks so much for sharing!

    KK

  • Keith Rowley

    What this does not address is the cost of comming out of the closet as a supporter of GLBT rights and people.

    I choose that language purposely because for a lot of us it feels that serious. Publically stating we support GLBT rights let alone don’t think its an inherently sinfull lifestyle would cause irreparable rifts in family relatiinships, let alone church ones.

    The cost just seems to high for the benefits.

    • http://www.rjaypearson.com R. Jay Pearson

      Keith, what is the reason for openly supporting GLBT folks? What is the reason a family and church would split because of it? Rifts will sadly occur when grace shines. Jesus said as much. But if you keep grace in the closet because you think the cost to yourself and a community is too high, then perhaps you need to take a harder look at the value of your currency.

    • Charles

      I find your post, Keith, very disturbing. Concern for human beings must always trump doctrine – That’s the essence of “God!”

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight Kimberly

      Perhaps with this knowledge you can glimpse, if even only for a moment, a tiny sliver of the incredible difficulty and pain of coming out AS a lesbian to my parents and community when I knew for certain (and was proven right) that hard, cold rejection and condemnation were my gifts for finally being true to who God had created me to be. The benefits of your support, of allies who are willing to take the risk, might just be lives saved from isolation, self-loathing, suicide or even murder. How far are you willing to follow Christ in your walk of love?

  • Eric

    I’ve posted before with questions on this topic. I was told to read the book “A Time to Embrace” by William Johnson – which I read – and I’m still not convinced.

    The problem I come to is that in my heart I want the Bible to have flexible language accepting of homosexuality… but it doesn’t. I feel like Johnson is doing the same thing in his book – grasping at reasons why we can ignore those verses in the N.T. that condemn homosexuality.

    In the end, my heart wants it to be acceptable, but my mind tells me it’s not (based on the Bible). But it’s a very slippery slope when we try to re-work the Bible to mean something that’s easier for us accept.
    Thoughts?

    • Scot Miller

      The Bible is as “flexible” on homosexuality as it is on slavery and divorce. (You’ll find the flexible passages on homosexuality right next to the ones where the Bible advocates the abolition of slavery.) In other words, there are different ways of reading the Bible, some of which are narrow and hurtful, others that are open and fruitful.

      But let’s suppose that the Bible really IS as anti-homosexual, and God really thinks homosexuality is a sin. My question is, “Why does God think homosexuality is a sin?” In other words, does God have any moral reasons to hold that homosexuality is a sin (i.e., reasons that human beings in a community of people who participate in the sphere of rational discourse)? Because there isn’t any plausible moral argument against homosexuality that withstands rational scrutiny. (The most likely argument is some kind of “natural law” objection, but “natural law” arguments have also been used, for example, to defend the practice of slavery as well as oppose it, which means that the premise of natural law is probably mistaken: how can the same moral principle be used to defend contradictory conclusions?) Of course, God could be homophobic, and He [sic] wants us to be homophobic just like Him.

      • http://www.rjaypearson.com R. Jay Pearson

        Great words, Scott. I like that you are eager to “question God” on the “why.” Given such a scenario were real, I would eagerly join in a debate with God on the matter. In Jewish tradition, God is God, but God’s decisions are not always seen as humane, and as such not necessarily always beyond question. We actually see numerous times in the Torah where God is successfully challenged on an initial decision, and His mind is changed.

    • http://www.rjaypearson.com R. Jay Pearson

      Eric, I’d like to start with a few general questions so that I can give a more informed response. What is it that you seek? What is the anchor of your spiritual motivation? And why?

  • Eric

    First, for Scott: I don’t think it’s fair to call someone homophobic b/c they think homosexuality is wrong. I’m not scared of, disgusted by gays, nor do I distance myself from them. I can think something is wrong without having a phobia of it.

    It’s funny, b/c I talk to my “conservative” Christian friends and get ripped for even thinking that accepting homosexuality is OK… and then I get ripped here for questioning why you think it is OK. I guess there’s no place for the unsure.

    So Jay… What I seek… is to try to understand. I have a several gay family members and I’m just not sure what is the right stance to take. If asked, would Jesus have said, “Of course there’s nothing wrong with a gay couple” The verses that speak to homosexuality aren’t “flexible” as Scott states, unless you want to try to pull the “it’s a cultural issue and Paul wasn’t talking to comitted homosexuals living a pure life” argument. Which I think DOES have some validity.

    Lastly, Scott… God has never changed his mind on a moral law, just on a decision he was going to make (like when Moses talked God out of killing the Israelites at Mt. Sinai). Read the last chapters of Job and maybe re-think your ideas of “arguing” with God. I’m all for wrestling with my faith, with what I believe, what the Bible says and means, but it’s a slippery slope when you argue God.

    So honestly, I don’t know what to think on the topic. I’m at the point where I wouldn’t tell someone they can’t be gay and a Christian, but I also don’t think I’m at the point where I can say the Bible is fine with it.
    Thanks for listening…

    • Jonnie

      A note about he last chapters of Job. God vindicates Job, not his friends who try to temper his anger and desire to have it out with God. The unique thing about his response is that he does not simply ‘put down’ Job’s protest, but ‘brings him up’ into a global, spura-human perspective on what is happening in the cosmos. I think it is very important to see how ennobling this response is rather than tritely reading it as God’s snuffing out a rebellion. He puts down those who theologize answers that, like Job accused them, “show partiality toward him” and “plead the case” for God. (13:8)

      Don’t wrestle with your faith? It is not a subject that can respond and relate. It should not be contrued as some discrete ‘thing’ with being in itself. Wrestle with God, a subject who welcomes it. The bible doesn’t ‘mean’ discretely either; it leams in relationship, in the community’s wrestling with God in and through it.

  • Eric

    Jonnie – That was incredibly insightful!

  • T. Webb

    This is a good start, but to truly be a Bisexual “ally” you need to do more than support gay marriage. Christians need to openly support polyamory and marriage between more than two partners. Now that gay marriage has a lot of momentum, opening up marriage to more than two partners is now starting to be put on the table, and Christians need to push for equality for all.

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