Commit to nourishing faith rather than chopping
at the roots of spiritual identity
I was secretly going to a bible study on campus on Tuesday nights. I tucked the Bible my parents had stuck in my bag before I left home under my arm, and nervously made my way to the gathering on the other side of campus. I didn’t want my gay friends to know because they’d wonder why I was even interested in following a religion that said I was hated. I didn’t want my Christian family or friends to know because they might tell me I needed to “give up my lifestyle”. I was caught between 2 communities and I wasn’t sure what I wanted or what was even true. Despite this, I prayed most nights before I went to bed. I asked Jesus into my heart, questioned what he wanted for my life, and asked him to save me just in case having a boyfriend was as much of an abomination as people seemed to think it was.
When I told a friend I couldn’t hang out because I had bible study, she said, “You can’t be a Christian, you’re gay”. The message was clear, gay and Christian were polar opposites, there was no gray in being gay, and allegiance to one group was to betray the other. It also meant that my behavior & theology determined whether I was in or out.
When we adopt such a polarizing stance, I think it reveals how obsessed we are with knowing who’s in and who’s out and also that we don’t understand a core message of Christianity – that “anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13) and that “to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). What I see in these 2 scriptures is that there is only 1 qualifier to be in God’s family – receiving Christ. It says nothing about having correct theology or even right behavior – 2 things I’ve witnessed the Christian community demands from LGBT people before they can belong. And yet God seems to give the name son or daughter with only one qualification, calling on His provisional Christ. Which is why I’m very committed to not making “gay” the disqualifier for faith in God and belonging in His family.
Conservative reader, I hear you. Theology and behavior very much matter, but having correct theology and right behavior aren’t what qualifies us as Christians. If that’s the case, then I’m still waiting to reach that status and consequently should not be called a beloved son. But I have found that it’s in that frustrating, gray “in-between” place, of first being called “son” and the complete sanctification of my nature, theology, and behavior. What I believe about God (theology) and my (moral or immoral) behavior, are things that get worked out IN the Father-son relationship, not outside or before it.
So I want to give people space & time to walk with Jesus, free of agendas or timetables. If someone says they are a Christian and have accepted Jesus, then they’re in. I don’t have to do a thorough evaluation and critique because the authenticity of someone’s faith has never been my responsibility to judge. I don’t have the ability to see the depths of someone’s heart; to be honest, it takes prayer and the grace of God for me to understand the depths of my own.
The next relational insight will focus more on how you can be freed from this trap of judgment, allowing you to enjoy relationship and ministry to LGBT people rather than feeling responsible for their faith.
This blog is one in a series of 30+ tips for relational effectiveness with LGBT people. Find the condensed list HERE. These relational tips are from a handout acquired from “Lead Them Home”, a Boston based ministry that equips the church on LGBT issues. These blogs have been expounded upon with permission.
These tips, along with numerous other insights, are found in an excellent resource called “Guiding Families” available HERE.