Recognize the power of your invitation
Every culture on this fallen planet has people who are “in” and those who are “out”, each of them with different criteria for who belongs where based on (but not limited to) your income, race, religion, gender, and, of course, your sexual orientation. This may sound like a hopeless statement, but I have no confidence this will ever change this side of eternity. As long as fallen people exist there will be hierarchies and power structures where some get it all and others get nothing. But God consistently works within broken systems.
You’ve likely found yourself in places of power in some areas, and in the minority in others. That’s a good thing. People who never have the experience of being in the minority often use their power to further marginalize, rather than create equality.
Those who are LGBT are certainly a minority group. This has nothing to do with morality, spirituality, or ethics. More than 90% identify as heterosexual, making it very clear that if you identify as straight, you are in the majority and therefore have power. Knowing, realizing, and using this power is crucial because those in the majority ALWAYS have the power to invite in, make room for, and help restore dignity.
I wish this was different. As someone with a minority experience regarding sexuality & plenty of instances of being looked at as less than by others, I have an ample supply of hurt and hatred that makes me want to throw some elbows and demand you make room for me at the table – to treat me as an equal with respect rather than a disease to be cured or an issue to be counseled away. But this isn’t the way of Christ. Again, I don’t want it to be true that straight people have so much power in my life, but when I’m honest, I remember the times straight men have invited me in & made me feel the most loved, causing the hatred and hurt to soften to a place of rest for my soul. Of course I’ve learned to live without this invitation from straight society – mainly due to God’s indwelling Spirit as a reminder of my value to Him. I have learned to grit my teeth, harden my heart, muster up courage and tell my story with honesty regardless of the look I get in response. But I can’t deny the peace that comes when a majority member reaches out and pursues a relationship with me, with the only gain being friendship for us both. It allows my teeth and fists to unclench and my heart to stop seething with revenge. It gets me out of the mindset of defending and proving myself to keep shame at a distance.
Statistically, dear reader, you are in the majority regarding sexual orientation. So my challenge to you is to see past a culture war & locate those in the minority that need the reminder that they are valuable just as they are. Recall the times you’ve found yourself in the minority and allow empathy to rise up in your heart, feeling a shared humanity with someone who experiences life and sexuality different than you. How will you wield the power you already have (and can’t get rid of) to invite others in?
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” availableHERE.