“Uh, No, We Don’t Have Gay People Here!”

“Uh, No, We Don’t Have Gay People Here!” June 9, 2016


So many people in power are completely out of touch with the people they are supposed to serve. This is another reason to be wary. You see it in the recent rape cases making national news. And perhaps you’ve seen Upworthy, a YouTube channel full of uplifting and eye-opening videos. Rachel Maddow interviewed State Representative Jim Buchy who co-sponsored the “heartbeat” abortion ban.

Maddow asked Buchy: “What do you think makes a woman want to have an abortion?” After stumbling around a minute with phrases like, “probably a lot of reasons,” “I don’t know, I’m not a woman,” “probably economic reasons, a lot of economic reasons…” he finally stumbled upon this: “It’s a question I’ve never even thought about.”

Really? You’ve never even thought about this?

Do you see what I’m saying here? This man is in a position of power over women who must abide by legislation he succeeds in passing, when he’s never thought about their situation. That is not a leader who, as VanVonderen put it, comes underneath those he serves and lifts them up, to build and equip them. He instead is someone coming “from a place of higher power to a place of lesser power” to carry out his own wishes. (This is not a comment about abortion but about abuse of power.)

Many box-pastors operate the same way. Apparently, some seminaries are box-seminaries that tell eager young pastors-to-be how to interpret and defend the Bible, to answer questions, more than to live with open questions, which is necessary to authentically love and serve people.

Frank Schaeffer said that to focus on finding answers is physically addictive. Like heroin. (Really.) Box-pastors and box-christians are trained to find answers; there is no encouragement to rest in open questions. Isn’t that what our Bible studies and Sunday schools are about? I’ve been there, done that. I could find the answer even to a rhetorical question!

Box-christians, especially box-pastors, are not comfortable with open questions. Yet, Jesus ended many conversations with open questions.

This creates incredible cognitive dissonance. Open questions don’t fit in the box. Honestly, neither does the Spirit of God. That’s why the box-church does not like questions, it likes answers. (“No, I’ll lead you.”)

So, let’s say the pastor’s daughter comes out as trans*. That pastor has no category for this. It doesn’t fit in his box. He never learned about it in seminary except that it’s wrong wrong WRONG. So he is left with few choices. The question must be answered. The i must be dotted and t crossed.

So she is forced to leave.

That’s the easiest route; the open question is too threatening to the box. And if that pastor can sacrifice his own child to preserve his box, he surely isn’t going to break it open for someone else’s child.

This happens every day that pastors sacrifice their children for the sake of the box.

Of course, this trickles down to families and congregations. This is how conservative churches can look out over their thousand-member congregations and speak about LGBTQ people as if there are none there.

This is how they can spout that “No one in the church has ever been gay” when, in fact, the gay people simply don’t make a peep – or they get the hell out of there as fast as they can.

It would be more accurate to say, “No one in our church has ever felt safe enough to come out, and then stick around here with us, while we continue to teach that homosexuality is wrong.”

That would require cracking the box.

A visiting Ugandan pastor spoke about the issues their churches faced: polygamy, witch doctors, poverty, women’s empowerment, AIDS, and not enough pastors to serve the growing church. I asked him if they had any issues with LGBTQ people. He did not understand, so I said, “Gay people.” He said, “Why, no. We don’t have any gay people.”

That was all he had to say.

Not having gay people and not knowing you have gay people are two different things.

Pastors who cannot get a grip on what is really going on in the world are going to lose their voice altogether, and the results of their message are undeniably tragic, especially in the lives of our LGBTQ youth.

Open your eyes. Open your hearts. Do better.


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