Dear Pastors, Youth Pastors and Church Leaders,
There is a conversation happening in most churches today whether openly, behind office doors or silently in the minds of people: What do we do with the issue of homosexuality and the Bible? You may feel more comfortable ignoring it, or abiding firmly with church policy and belief statements.
I am a straight Christian who is in the midst of this very sticky arena of “what to do”. I can assure you that no matter your theology, there are gay and lesbian people sitting in your pews. They range from fully “out” to silently sitting. But, be assured, they are there.
Did you know:
- Over 60% of the LGBT community describe their faith as “very important” to them and 58% have made “a personal commitment to Jesus Christ” (Barna Research)
- Most traditional churches have not been open and affirming to the LGBT community
- Families are struggling with reconciling their Biblical beliefs and full acceptance of their gay loved ones/friends. The families are leaving churches over this issue or are feeling guilt because they have a gay child
- 91% of 16 to 29 year olds view the church as “antihomosexual” and this keeps most of them from coming to churches
I have almost a decade of experience in doing ministry work with LGBT Christians and conservative Christian communities.
I can offer insight.
My intention is not to alter your theology. My desire is to help others follow the directives of Jesus in treatment of LGBT people with grace and compassion.
Quoting verses and making a “no gay” policy at your church won’t work to disciple, restore and heal.
Many churches have an “all are welcome” policy. Please consider:
Once LGBT people get in the front doors of “welcoming” churches, they are rarely treated equally to heterosexual congregants. The definition of “welcoming” matters to gay and transgender Christians. What you mean by “welcoming” and what LGBT Christians view as welcoming may be very different. You need to consider the following questions:
At what level are LGBT people able to participate and serve in your church? In what ministries are they included, and just as importantly, from what ministries are they excluded? Can they be worship leaders, work in the children’s ministries, or lead Bible or home study groups? Sidelining LGBT Christians to duties such as ushering and staffing the coffee bar is not an open-service policy, unless those are places where the individual chooses to serve. Will gay and transgender people be restricted in their service and fenced out of using their gifts in the congregation, whether by a written or an unspoken policy?
Do gay, lesbian, and bisexual Christians who want to become part of your church family need to “repent” for their sexual orientation? Do you expect them to change at some unspecified future time? Is there an assumption or hopeful attitude that they will come to no longer identify as gay? Will you direct them to a reparative therapy program? Is the goal to “fix” them? Will you encourage lifelong celibacy and discourage any same-sex relationships?
Some say gay and transgender Christians need to place their “identity in Christ.” So do heterosexual Christians, yet heterosexuals can also be in committed intimate relationships. If your church is not going to support the committed same-sex relationships of LGBT congregants, be honest about that. Bait-and-switch is deceptively un-Christ-like and serves to push gay and transgender believers farther away each time the deception happens.
What version of the Bible does your church officially use? Some versions, as seen in Chapter 9, include poor and inaccurate translations of key verses. If your sanctioned translation includes the word “homosexual,” you will offend gay congregants. There are more accurate translations that do not use the word “homosexual.”
If your church is a membership church, can LGBT Christians become members?
If LGBT people are in a committed relationship, will they be welcome as a couple? Will they be permitted to interact with the same level of affection commonly acceptable for heterosexual couples in your congregation? Can they touch arms, hold hands, or sit closely in worship or times of prayer? As marriage equality becomes more widespread state by state, how will you treat same-sex couples who are legally married?
How do you treat transgender people?
There is a critical disconnect going on in our churches in how we express the love of Jesus to a population of over 15 million LGBT people in America.
Please consider my offer. Look at your church mission statement.
Is there a way I can help you to love your LGBT members and neighbors better?
Kathy at canyonwalkerconections dot com
YOUTH LEADERS, please watch: