What is a Christian to do with the Queer Community?

What is a Christian to do with the Queer Community? May 14, 2024

Image by ImagineThatStudio

When two of our five children first came out, I was… let’s see, what’s the word? I wasn’t sad exactly, or even scared, but I was unprepared—that’s it. I was unprepared because our evangelical church involvement the previous twenty years had not prepared me. LGBTQ+ was not yet the bone of contention between “true believers and apostates” (to use conservative church terms)—it was 2010—so it wasn’t vilified from the pulpit, but we all just knew being queer would not be okay. It was understood, not talked about. Like race.

Oh, I wanted our kids to be able to have a lifegiving partnership as Rob and I had, someone to grow old with, a safe place to love and be loved. And for sure I would have to sort out what it meant for them spiritually. But the undercurrent was: What does this mean about to our place in the church and our understanding of God? This became the subject of my viral TEDx talk.

Though I did not yet know the extent of the impact, I did know everything would change. I would have to unpack everything I knew or thought I knew, like someone who’s forgotten how to walk and has to learn all over again. Who was I now? Who was God? And what about all we’d learned in our twenty years in church?

If I could speak to those pastors now, I would say, “Can we please talk about this? Everyone has someone in their lives who’s queer—what will we do about it? The church’s primary calling is to love well, not to spout verses and judgment at people. How do we love the queer community well? Jesus said people would know his followers by our love—that’s instead they’re us savagely attack anyone who disagrees with us. Can we find a better way here?”

But the church was useless to me, I had to find my own way to freedom, to love for this community. I had those conversations, not with my old pastors but plenty of others, and turns out they weren’t interested in Jesus on this point (and many others). They were more committed to their rhetoric than to love. And each passing year, they seem to double-down more and more, having completely lost the plot.

Rob and I started FreedHearts to be the love we want to see in the world. We’ve been saving lives, restoring families, bringing more people into love, not hate, all because we dropped those church teachings (what Jesus called traditions of men) and just followed the love Jesus showed us. We have reached millions.

It’s been 14 years now, and our lives are sweeter than ever. We’ve been attacked, vilified, even had death threats—for daring to love as Jesus said to love. The doubled-down church is doubled-over right now with hatred and rancor. Including some family members. It’s a sad situation.

We get emails, still—like the one below—from people who want to “set us straight,” and “show us the error of our ways.” I answer because perhaps they will hear. But this part of the church doesn’t have a history of hearing.

I offer it here in case for anyone who may be on that threshold of being willing to see past a way that doesn’t work and into a way that does. Time is short, people. There’s a world to love.

She wrote, “You obviously do NOT know our Lord Jesus personally or you would understand the difference between His kind of life for mankind & the distorted gay relationships. If you can’t see the difference, I think you should pray & ask God to show you. We don’t hate these people, but right is right, & wrong is wrong. Don’t trust nature or God’s Word to fit your agenda. The fear of the Lord, which you need, is the beginning of wisdom.”

I answered, “I appreciate your heart. I know that with what you’ve been taught, my words sound like heresy. But then so did all the Great Reformers who made Protestantism even possible. So did Galileo and Copernicus whom the church punished severely for saying the earth is not the center of the universe. The church declared countless people heretics and then later declared them saints. So I’m not much interested in the short-sightedness of the church. It is Jesus who has led me out of my judgmental, evangelical certainty and into the true aroma of Christ. (I now am MUCH MORE like Christ in my heart and my actions now than I ever was when I was in the church.)

Christians always say they don’t hate these people but they could not act more like they do. The fact that they, and you, don’t even understand that shows that you don’t know these people, you have not heard their stories, you have not listened to how the church’s actions have crushed them—so how can you possibly be obedient to Christ’s admonition to treat them as you’d want to be treated, a foundational tenet of his requirements of us? It is the church who needs to reevaluate their Christlikeness, not these people.

This community has been judged, berated, torn from their families, by Christians. Christians have done this, and you don’t even begin to understand it. Jesus says that if your brother has something against you, as this community surely does after their abominable treatment at the hands of Christians, then you must go reconcile with them before you “sacrifice for the Lord” (Matt 5:23). But most of the conservative church would sooner jump off a cliff than seek to understand their queer neighbor. You cannot just claim that you are right when you don’t even understand the damage done by your “rightness.” The religious leaders relied on their “rightness” too, and then they killed Jesus. When they got to heaven, they saw what they missed here and were horrified. When the church gets to heaven and sees what it missed here, they (you) will be horrified too.

If you are sincere in what you say, if your desire is to be obedient to Jesus, then for heaven’s sake (literally), set everything on the table and say, “God, I beg of you to show me what YOU want me to know.  Show me where I’m mistaken in this . ” The more you pile on, the more you will have to regret.

I cannot thank God enough for giving me my two queer kids, because it is through them that Jesus washed clean my stench of judgment and splashed the clean me with his aroma. I wouldn’t go back to that self-righteous judgment for anything in the world. Thank you, Jesus!

By the way, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, it is only a place to start. Fear is not the end point. From that beginning, where we recognize that God is God, we are meant to grow and mature in wisdom. But it seems most Christians who say what you’re saying don’t ever grow into that maturity. As Paul says, they should be eating meat now, but they’re still babies drinking mother’s (their leader’s) milk. I know it’s scary to grow into something so unfamiliar, but isn’t that true of any authentic faith journey, and not just a child’s game of follow-the-leader?

May God guide you on this path to the freedom for which Christ has set us free.”

We continue to get emails like this every day. We answer every one, sharing a lavish, inclusive love. Setting hearts free to love, and be loved – as we are, for who we are.

THAT is what we all deserve.

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