A few years ago our church made some news by announcing we would be open and affirming of all people, regardless of their sexual identity. There was some negative feedback from some outside sources, but the overall response and effect has been incredibly positive.
I have a lot of friends and family who are on all various points on the religious and political spectrum, and many struggle with their acceptance of the LGBTQ community. I was not always as accepting as I have become, but can say I am much happier with where I am today. If this is something you struggle with, I hope you will kindly consider some things that have been helpful to me:
First, I have found that life becomes simpler, easier and more spiritually meaningful the more theologically open-minded I am. It would be wildly arrogant of me to think I have the answers, especially pertaining to matters of God. I believe a healthy theology is one that is open and flexible, allowing room for questions, change and growth. For some, that can be a very scary step.
Second, I also find life becomes simpler, easier and more spiritually meaningful when I have an attitude of welcome instead of exclusion. I have LGBTQ friends and family, and I am simply not willing to turn my back on them because of who they feel they were created to be at the deepest level. And if I am going to be wrong on this matter, I would rather err on the side of Love.
It has been incredibly freeing to let go of my old judgements and to just be, while also allowing others just be, as well. It just feels right. It has freed me to enjoy a more joyful and content existence. It is a hands-off, “don’t tread on me” perspective, which is what we all want for ourselves, isn’t it? The instant I judge or critique your way of life, I open the door for you to do the same to mine. I must allow the same individual freedoms and graces for my neighbors that I want for myself.
Often it’s helpful to hear someone’s personal story. Last year a documentary crew filmed the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus as they traveled on a tour of the south, and they stopped at First Baptist for an incredible evening. The award-winning film will be screened on Sunday, June 9 at the Peace Center in Greenville, and the trailer is linked below. I continue to grow from that experience.
These topics can be very difficult for many people, and respectful dialogue is hard to come by these days. I’m happy to talk more, if it would be helpful. Comment respectfully here, or in a private message. If you’re interested in a biblical perspective, I can also highly recommend the book, “This I Know” by my colleague and friend, Jim Dant, linked below, as well. Best of luck in your journey!
“This, I Know” by Jim Dant