“Hi again Kathy – I’m still in the untangling stage… but just wanted to ask a question. Have watched your video as well and think it is amazing and very well done… but now, when sharing things I have read, my other children are finding it quite hard…
I am right there with you.
I did not even think to look at the subject in depth on my own until a relationship that I valued confronted my beliefs. I accepted what I was told from the pulpit, in conversations with fellow believers, and from cultural messages about LGBT. There was far less information available fifteen years ago when I began this journey. Yet, some of the objections still exist and the push back from many churches is just as strong.
There are many reasons people don’t investigate this issue. Though I have never seen a study as to why, I have plenty of anecdotal experience and input from thousands of people I’ve interacted with over the past decade and a half.
In no particular order:
People in the evangelical and conservative church environment lack relational interaction with LGBT people and, in particular, LGBT Christians. I assure you — there ARE LGBT people in every congregation, yet few congregations allow them to be out and open. They may be on the margins and not openly identifying. They know, for the most part, that they will not be accepted if they do come out. So they stay hidden from us.
In the first over twenty years that I spent in the evangelical church, no one, not one person, came to me and ever identified as both gay and Christian.
Relationship with an LGBT person is a key to our openness to questioning what we believe. If you’re are anything like I was, the huge bulk of my social relationships and events centered on the church. Catch-22. We restrict openness for people to express their orientation; they remain closeted or leave; we stay in our bubbles and continues to not know LGBT Christians.
I often say when I speak, that amongst the many stories of new allies whom I have met over the years, only one couple came to an affirming stance solely from studying the Scriptures. This couple did not even know LGBT Christians when they reached out to me for further help. (Bless you Danny and Carla!)
Let’s get real here. Doing the work and then changing your beliefs on this issue can take a lot of courage!
The pushback and kick-out we experience from our friends (again, often our sole social circle) and pastors can be tremendous. The cost can be high; the losses can be massive. All this is happening while you might be just questioning your beliefs or understanding. It is difficult to answer questions when you are early on in your own journey.
In the very beginning, my heart knew I was resonating with the Spirit, but my brain did not have the answers. That is scary. It felt like I was laying all my friendships, status, and reputation as a “good Christian” on the line with very little intellectual foundation to support it.
I recall many conversations where I was wholly dismissed and written off. I lost many relationships as I learned to advocate and question. I even lost a very dear relationship to a man I hoped to marry. My advocacy became too hot a topic for him.
LGBT people certainly suffer a great deal of loss to be honest about their faith and orientation. It is also true of straight people who dare to ask or confront within conservative faith environments.
So back to relationships. If the person who is the impetus to the questioning is your own child, the stakes are even more elevated. You inherently know as a parent that your love for your child surpasses your perceived comfort of your beliefs. You know your child. You know your child’s relationship with God.
Finally, this tension may be the one thing that is strong enough within you and makes you willing to become the target of church pushback in order to support your child.
And still, it will not be easy.
[This may be a helpful read.]
Researching and confronting beliefs takes time! We are fortunate now that there are so many great and solid resources to start with.
My suggested reading list (in order) is:
Torn by Justin Lee — it may open hearts to hear
Walking the Bridgeless Canyon, my book provides excellent foundational information on which to understand history and context.
God and the Gay Christian, by Matthew Vines
Lives are busy and few people will spend the time investigating a subject they think is already settled. I know I did not bother until what I saw and experienced in the life of my gay friends did not line up with what I thought to be true.
Questioning a belief system about an issue is often seen as akin to questioning God Himself. It is not. Conservative exclusion of the LGBT community is a fairly new conversation, only started in the 1970s.
There are over 30K Christian denominations. We don’t all agree on every issue. Many Christian denominations are already fully affirming. Shift is happening. Questions are healthy.
I like to remind people that my own journey to questioning my beliefs did not involve “substantiating” my sexual orientation or the orientation of my two adult children. I am compelled by my faith toward justice and inclusion. I am compelled by my faith to seek truth so that I might treat others equally and in a Christlike manner.
I am an advocate because of my faith.
Brave on for your gay child, sister! You will lose friends, respect, reputation, and maybe even a church home.
The arc of the Gospel goes toward inclusion. Welcome to the modern frontier.
“I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” Philippians 3:8