08 Jul A Letter to the Editor – On the LGBTQ Community and The Church
This letter was asked to be submitted anonymously.
Dear Selfless Ambition Editorial Team,
I was very excited to hear about the launch of Selfless Ambition. I look forward to hearing from the many diverse voices of our brothers and sisters in Dane County. When I thought about what ideas I could share, what I wanted to say to my fellow believers, one topic was the clear focus. Unfortunately, I must ask my ideas be credited under a pseudonym.
You see, the topic that has been most pressing on my heart in recent days is one that has brought me much pain, hostility, and torment. But, by God’s grace, it also has brought me the greatest feeling of absolute peace and happiness in my entire adult life.
The topic is that of the Church and the LGBT+ community.
After the tragedy at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando just over one year ago, I realized that I could no longer live a lie. People were hurting and crying out in horrified despair while I sat silently, afraid that by speaking my support, I would unwillingly let loose a secret that I had considered shameful: that I — a Christian and a pastor’s daughter to boot — was sexually and romantically attracted to other women.
I spent the next few months in agony, crying out to God, asking Him to tell me what to do. I came out to my family in the fall of 2016 and have been living halfway out of the closet since then.
As I came to terms with my sexuality and dove into the stories of fellow LGBT+ Christians and affirming allies, I felt God opening my eyes and tugging at my heart. The Church has done a terrible job at caring for the LGBT+ community, including Christians who are queer or questioning themselves.
I felt the Lord calling me, showing me that He could use me and those like me to disprove the idea that being LGBT+ and Christian are diametrically opposed.
He could use me to show that there are many people who identify as gay, lesbian, bi, pan, trans, queer, non-binary, etc. who have devoted their hearts and lives to follow Christ.
He could use me to show that there are churches that will love and accept anyone seeking Him, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.
Feeling that call filled me with hope and purpose. But now my heart is torn and being pulled in two directions. My father, a pastor in the Evangelical tradition, has told me that he would appreciate it if I “kept [my sexuality] to myself” until he retires from the ministry.
There’s a part of me that understands this and wants to respect his wishes. As someone who grew up in the Evangelical church, it was hard for me to come to a place where I fully accept and affirm LGBT+ Christians. If I were to come out publicly, it would challenge the current beliefs and worldview of those whom my father pastors, many of whom I consider to be as close as family.
At the same time, his admonition has filled me with anger, pain, and sadness. Shouldn’t I be the one to decide when and to whom I can come out? As Christians, we are taught to put off our old selves and not lie to one another. By forcing LGBT+ Christians to remain in the closet, we are forcing them to lie about who they are. And for what? Fear of making others uncomfortable? Shouldn’t we instead be open to having these conversations? To come alongside those with whom we disagree and, in prayer and with gracious hearts, further delve into Scripture together to seek out God’s will for us as a Church?
While I do not condone the microaggressions and intolerance displayed by the Church towards the LGBT+ community, I can understand that change happens slowly, and that we need to approach one another with grace and patience.
There are Christians who believe that homosexuality is a sin and that those who identify as lesbian, gay, bi, queer, etc. are an affront to God.
There are Christians who believe that homosexual activity is a sin and that those who identify as same-sex attracted should dedicate themselves to lifelong celibacy.
And there are Christians who believe that Scripture has nothing to say about homosexuality as modern society defines it and therefore allows for loving, godly relationships between people of the same gender.
By cutting any of these groups out of the discussion or silencing them in any way, we become gatekeepers for Christianity, and potentially let our own beliefs and prejudices keep others from hearing the gospel.
We so easily forget that, ultimately, we are all followers of Christ. Let us not further divide ourselves. Rather, let us acknowledge our differences, lean into the discomfort, and learn more about God and His Church in the process.
I want to respect my father. I want to ensure that I approach other Christians with grace, courtesy, and patience. But at the same time, I refuse to sit quietly while society at large believes that my God and those who follow Him teach hatred and ignorance.
So instead, I will speak up. It may not be under my own name or with my own tongue just yet, but I will not be made silent.
I will continue talking with those searching on anonymous Internet forums, confused and in anguish about being gay and Christian.
I will amplify the voices of out LGBT+ Christians and their allies.
I will listen to dissenting views with patience and gracious consideration, and try to respond with tact and respect. I will continue to live out His love and light, and do what I can to build bridges and lead more to Him.
“For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet, till her vindication shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch.” – Isaiah 62:1 (NIV)
A Sister in Christ