(This post first appeared as a Guest column on the website for LGBT Faith Leaders of African descent Code)
As a minister of the gospel who is also a lesbian, I am compelled to constantly push the LGBTQ Christian community forward. The need I sense now, is that we begin to grow from the question of: “Can you be Gay and Christian?” to simply “Can you be a Christian?”
As LGBT individuals’ relationship with Christ changes, heals and progresses, clergy must reciprocate by offering tools to help LGBT Christians grow and mature. Maturity involves moving beyond the acknowledgment that Christ loves gay Christians and on to the “meatier” aspects of the faith.
Discovering God’s love opens the door to the Kingdom. But what to do once you’re inside?
One note Gospel?
As Gay Christian ministers, we face the threat of constricting the Bible, and our faith, to a one-note sermon titled the “Gospel of God Loves Gays.” Let’s be clear, this is a most powerful message. It is quintessential good news. Championing inclusion should be at the heart of our theology, just as it was for Christ. God’s unconditional love and welcome empowers our community and brings hope and healing to those with deep wounds. The Bible’s history of being used as a vehicle for repression and oppression of everyone from women, to African-Americans and slaves, has thwarted the unconditional love that our faith trumpets. and hurt too many seeking souls. So many cling stubbornly to misinterpretations of the so-called “clobber scriptures” (Leviticus 18:22, Romans 1:21-31, etc.) used inappropriately to condemn homosexuality, that the recovery process for many gay people of faith and open-minded believers will be long and ongoing. Resources (such as the ones listed on this website) and a drive to seek out the truth have helped many recover; others may never return to Christ or His often-antagonistic churches. Therefore we must never eliminate His unconditional, radically inclusive love from our theological menu. However, over time, consistently reducing the Bible to the “Gospel of God Loves Gays” causes our churches to run the risk of growing malnutrition-ed Christians.
Consider this. When the crowds gathered at the feet of Jesus (Matt. 14:14-20), they were offered a balanced, well-rounded meal – containing both protein and carbohydrates: fish and bread. No doubt if the audience had been offered a clay cup filled with water they would have been grateful, but under-nourished.
Paul describes the dilemma this way: 1Cr 3:2 “I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able [to receive it], and even now you are still not able.” Teaching the message that we are accepted and welcomed at the feet of Jesus is one thing – but encouraging them to stay at Christ’s feet long enough to truly worship and commune, and eat the full meal He offers, is another task entirely. There must be progression. We do not have a faith that ends at acceptance for everyone. That’s milk. We have a comprehensive all-encompassing faith that begins with acceptance for everyone than proceeds to use biblical teachings to guide individuals through turbulent times, heal the sick, maintain a steady moral compass, comfort the grieving, care for its youth and elderly and strengthen the poor. This is the meat of our faith. And we are hungry for it.
So teach us eschatology. Teach us of salvation and sanctification. Teach us the parables of Jesus and the epistles of Paul. Teach us the story of Deborah as well as David and Jonathan. Teach us the whole Bible and how to study it. Teach us the truth about the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and Bethlehem and Jerusalem. Teach us the “clobber scriptures” and the healing verses, and how to develop a day-to-day worship relationship with our Savior Jesus Christ. Teach us about resurrection and teach us about the crucifixion – yes, the crucifixion. It is bloody, and not “PC” but it is the sacrifice that opened the door for this lesbian to be accepted into the Body of Christ. So teach me why Easter matters, so I can understand the power of redemption – and love myself just as deeply as I now know Christ loves me.
The gay christian cannot be allowed to fall into the same pit as the straight. If we do not broaden our community’s understanding of the Christian faith, we will live stunted immature Christian lives, replete with its judgmental, unsettled, critical, and insensitive traits. This is our opportunity to let our lights shine – to be cities on hills. So let’s not go around the same mountain too many times. Once you have received that gospel of “God Loves Gays,” preach it to yourself everyday, embrace it, bask in it and share it with others. Simultaneously, let us also learn how to read, study and dissect the rest of the Biblical teachings that apply to gays – that would be all of them. Bon appétit!
Join the discussion: What topics could be added to the menu at your place of worship to enhance your spiritual growth?