What your church can gain from Homosexuals

Yes.  You read that right.

I have yet to have anyone ask me “what good could come from my church allowing someone who is openly gay to attend?” BUT- I like to be prepared.  I imagine I may one day be asked that question.  And the last thing I would want to do is fumble for an answer.  So, since I am a list maker, I am making a list.

Here it is:

  • Tolerance:  Tolerance isn’t agreeing with an action.  If you agreed, tolerance would be unnecessary.  Tolerance is simply bearing with someone despite disagreement.  And since human beings come in every shape, color, and sexual orientation, we as Christians have a lot to learn about being good to people who don’t look or act like those we are used to.
  • Diversity:  Christianity isn’t just for white heterosexual middle class American citizens.  If your congregation is diverse it will better reflect the true Kingdom of God, as well as allowing for-
  • A greater breadth of ministry: because, let’s be honest- gay people have largely been either overlooked or rejected by the church for a long time now.  There is a very large contingent of people who need to hear that God loves them and misses them- and we’re not going to reach them until we accept them into our communities and congregations.
  • Getting past the discomfort:  Ever get into a situation that made you feel like ants were crawling up and down your lower back, and all you could think about was getting out?  Some Christians have that discomfort when they learn someone is gay.  If you expose them on a weekly or twice weekly basis to a good person who also happens to be gay, they will (hopefully) eventually learn to work past the itchiness and have a good friendship.
  • Learning to love the way God does:  Because at our worst, lowest, weakest moment God loved us, and he sent his Son to die for us.  Not because we were good or holy, but because we are his family.  And God loves the gays, okay?  He loves them, and misses them, and wants them to be a part of the family.  We need to learn to love the way God does, to love people even when they are broken and thinking about what they do in private gives us the willies.
  • Learning not to think about what people do in private: Because if we knew what good sister Mary in her covering and floral dress did in private, it may make us puke.  Why even go there?
  • Learning to show a more full face of God: because God isn’t a white middle class heterosexual and slightly hirsute guy in the clouds with a big smiting stick just WAITING for the gays to come into his house so he can show them what-for.  That isn’t God, and that isn’t who we should be making people think that God is.
  • Someone to make awesome appetizers and decorate the sanctuary in a tastefully modern way.  (JOKING!  I kid, I kid.)  😀

To say it all very simply, we need people who aren’t like us to teach us how to love people who aren’t like us.  Wow, okay, that wasn’t simply.  But that is the truth: the Church needs to learn to love and accept homosexuals.  No matter how gay they are.  Even if they come in on Sunday morning in pink t-shirts with rainbow striped pants.  (But they probably won’t.)  Even if they refuse to apologize for who they are- no- ESPECIALLY if they refuse to apologize for who they are.

Because God loves them.

And so should we.

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20 thoughts on “What your church can gain from Homosexuals

  1. This is an excellent post Lindsey! Thank you for sharing these thoughts in this way. I think I might share this with my pastor, although he is already if this mindset. I know he wishes the call committee at our church was of this mindset.
    Wendy

  2. I came across your post purely by accident, and when I read the headline I really wasn’t sure what to expect. I am what you may call the standard-bearing San Francisco free-loving liberal, and I wasn’t sure if I was ready to start this beautiful California Friday morning with the usual gay-bashing, I’m-holier-than-thou punditry…

    Yours blog post, however, surprised me and I must say in spite of the underlying assumption that gays and lesbians are sinners (they’re not) and need to be saved (they don’t), I whole-heartedly applaud you for the kindness you expressed in your words, and the beautiful humanity you possess in your heart. Thanks for sharing these words with your readers, and I sincerely hope that more people will read your words, and stop and question about their own biases and assumptions not just about gay people, but about all others who are different from them.

    Signed,
    Clement

  3. bridgeout: Thank you! I hope that the committee comes around in time, too!

    Clement: I say this often in response to comments, but might as well say it again- I never said it was a sin, I never said it wasn’t. Regardless of what I do or don’t believe on the subject, the vast majority of Christians still consider it a sin and thus I phrase my posts in a way that they can digest without questioning accepted doctrine. Regardless of whether or not people consider homosexuality or homosexual acts sins, gay people should still be accepted by the church. Now, THAT being said: I believe that whether or not it should be judged as sin is wholly about the relationship between one person and their God, and the rest of the world should keep their noses out of it. If we trust God, we should trust that people who believe in him and seek to know him will be taught by him.

  4. LOL! Totally loved the last bullet point there Lindsey, too funny!

    “To say it all very simply, we need people who aren’t like us to teach us how to love people who aren’t like us. Wow, okay, that wasn’t simply.”

    I disagree, I think you said that rather simply and very well. Great post!

  5. Lindsey, Once again a wonderful post.

    “To say it all very simply, we need people who aren’t like us to teach us how to love people who aren’t like us. Wow, okay, that wasn’t simply.”

    Very well said and very true too. How can people expect to understand differences if they are never exposed to them?
    Oh and don’t forget that you can have great Super Bowl parties too. The women will sit around watching the game and the men will be fixing the refreshments.. 🙂

  6. Lindsey: I need to comment here, and in reading your posts in the past, I think I have a good idea of where you come from…….. first of all, here:

    ” to love people even when they are broken and thinking about what they do in private gives us the willies.”

    Do you mean that we as gays and lesbians are considered “broken”? Because, just for the record for your readers that are trying to get their arms around this as Christians, we are as whole as we can be…….

    Also, although I try to have a sense of humor about myself at times, the last bullet is one that I am a bit sensitive about. I believe that statements like that can perpetuate stereotypical beliefs about what gay persons may or may not look like, act like, etc.

    I love the message of your post and agree: churches need to start being more open to members of the gay and lesbian community, to add to the diversity of any congregation….. Have you seen the documentary, “For the Bible Tells Me So”? It addresses this issue of homosexuality and religion in a broad and a sensitive manner. I have seen it twice, shown it to members of our Methodist congregation, and the response has been overall favorable, even with persons who were not as well informed.

    Thank you, as always, for your thoughts…… Peace, Vanessa

  7. Vanessa: No, I am NOT saying that to be a homosexual is to be broken! I said this in an earlier comment, but I’ll say it again: What I believe personally about homosexuality is largely left off of this blog, because a good deal of my readership is people who do and will always view it as a sin,thus I approach the issue in a way that won’t directly confront their beliefs. Regardless of whether or not one views it as a sin, gay people are still good people and as worthy of love and acceptance and tolerance as the next guy.

    And I’m truly sorry if the last bullet point offended you. As I was working on writing the post I sarcastically thought that most people would think of that as the ONLY good, due to ignorance and stereotypes that would hopefully be eroded by actually knowing someone gay. I kept it mostly for the irony, thinking that anyone who read this would see it as tongue in cheek. Had I thought I might offend someone, I would have left it out.

    I haven’t seen that documentary, but I’ll look into it.

  8. Lindsey,

    I appreciate reading your post and in turn, all the comments from Stephanie, Clement, Vanessa, and everyone, but my comment is addressed specifically to you.

    There are times when the most gay-affirming straight people in the world will say things with the best of hearts and intentions that leaves us (queer folk) feeling a little uncomfortable with or even offended by something that was said, but when that happens I remind myself that the one simple fact is, the person speaking isn’t gay! As a straight person they’re speaking outside our experience which is FINE!!! I’m not poor but in certain circles will speak on behalf of the poor or on behalf of the migrant farm workers or on behalf of African-Americans or or or….

    I don’t speak FOR them, I speak on behalf OF them, and I have every reason to believe that were I speaking against racism in a group of white people and an African-American overheard me, they’d find issue with something I said, but I’m willing to run that risk. Tell me where I didn’t say it right so I can grow from it and learn and do better the next time I open my mouth.

    I appreciate you taking the risk Lindsey. You do it powerfully and you do it openly so that Clement or Vanessa raise their concerns you take it in, explain it where it needs to be explained or take it a level deeper the next time you write. I follow your posts and you do that consistently, whether it’s homosexuality or another topic. As a straight woman you risk taking shrapnel from all directions, but ultimately you take the risk, as I take it in other instances where I stand outside those I’m speaking on behalf of because bottom line, we’re all children of God and we need to stand with and for each other wherever injustice or misconceptions or intolerance exist.

    Keep doing what you’re doing Girlfriend and we’ll all grow from what we find here.

  9. Lindsey: Thank you so much for your response. Again, in reading what you have written over the last few months, I pretty much think that I have a good sense of your views on this topic, and your respect for others that are not quite as “progressive” in their thinking. I also appreciate you hearing me out about the last bullet point; and I don’t know that I was offended really; just wanted to bring it to your attention, because I respect your perspective, and also am glad that you read my stuff and appreciate my position also. I tend to believe that part of what keeps many persons “stuck” in their inaccurate beliefs about gay and lesbian persons, at least some of the beliefs, is because some of us are timid about speaking up about stereotypes and the like. I like to be consistent in stating my thoughts on the topic, so without sounding rude or overdramatic about it, thought it was a point worthy of making. Actually, in all fairness and honesty, unless you have had your fill of that from me already, I really consider you to be an ally, and look forward to your posts regularly. Keep writing and informing and putting your thoughts out here; I really do appreciate it…. Vanessa

  10. Anita: Thank you so much. I wish I had my brain in order to answer your comment more fully- but right now all I can say is thank you.

    Vanessa: And you have every right to speak your mind! In this case, only good could (and did) come from it, so thank you! And I consider you to be an ally, too. We both want people to move beyond stereotypes and “stuck” thinking into vibrant and healthy lives. Sometimes that does mean a little awkwardness or having to correct a friend, and I’m always game if you are. 😀

    Not anywhere close to having my fill of your honesty and integrity!

  11. Sorry, cannot agree.
    The idea of a church is a place where people believe more or less in the same thing. Sure, some sort of diversity always exists (when is the rapture, etc), but basically people go to church to meet others who believe the same they do themselves. Where they can feel they are among fellow believers, as opposed to “the real world” on the street, at the job, and for some people, at home. Even a small controversial theological thing like the gifts of the spirit makes the churches divide into “charismatic” and “non-charismatic” churches. How can such a controversial thing like homosexuality not divide?
    A homosexual has chosen a lifestyle that most Christian believe is sinful. It doesn’t mean we hate the homosexuals or want to kill him. It doesn’t mean we care what he does at home. It means that he does not believe the same as we, period. We can still respect him and love him. But accepting as a member of the church? It would be the same as accepting a muslim. Or as accepting a democrat to the republican party. You may say that “it’s who he is” or it’s “hardwired into him”. That’s not the point. A church is a place for people who believe the same thing, and he doesn’t.

    I am not opposed to a church with people where everyone agree to ignore, or re-interpret specific passages from the Bible, and accept homosexuals. I’m not opposed to churches where everyone is gay. I’m not opposed their freedom of expression. I’m not even opposed them visiting our church (and I’d be the first one to shake their hand and say welcome). I just don’t think it’s appropriate to try to force bible-believing churches to accept people that do not believe in the bible the same way.

  12. One more thing – I would agree that it’s extremely arrogant of many churches to condemn homosexuality based on Leviticus 18 (or was it 19?), when they still eat pork which is prohibited in Leviticus 11. I tried to understand their logic once and failed. Jesus died on the cross, and all of a sudden some sins aren’t sins anymore? Strange.

    As a Messianic Jew, I don’t have that problem since I believe in it all. See my post no. 200. =)

  13. thatdudeyouknow: I’m not trying to force anyone to do anything. It may just be semantics, but I’d rather say that I encourage people to stretch themselves.

    I’m not telling people to discount their beliefs or just change. While I do think that saying we’re “redeemed from the law” and then saying “well, eighty percent of it” is just ridiculous, that’s up to people to decide for themselves.

    I’ve written a few posts more specifically about this, Roots First and Cart first, Horse Second?, but to say it all very very quickly it goes like this: how can you win anyone over to your beliefs if you never even let them in the door? Discipleship is a process that takes a great deal of time. Years, decades even. We can’t put a prerequisite to discipleship. We need to let people in, connect with them, and begin the process slowly and carefully. If a church that doesn’t affirm gay relationships were to allow a gay man in, to welcome him, and through years of their good example show him what they believe to be holy living, they’d at least have a fighting chance of winning him to their beliefs. The way most churches go about it now, they’re simply never going to even have their voice heard beyond “SINNER!”, which doesn’t adequately demonstrate Christ’s love.

  14. You say “We can’t put a prerequisite to discipleship”. I disagree. If they’re not willing to learn and hear, they’re not ready to be disciples. If they don’t want to be disciples, there’s no reason to try to persuade them. God is the one who persuades.
    Accepting homosexuals as they are is against God’s truth. Not accepting them is against God’s love. The only solution is the same as for anyone who doesn’t believe. Show them God’s love. Be kind to them. Invite them to visit your church. But if they want to become a member, you need to make sure that they know, understand and accept the declaration of faith of the church, which includes belief in the Bible.
    Anyone who shouts “sinner!” to a homosexual will get the exact same treatment from God. The way you judge will be the way you will be judged with.

  15. thatdudeyouknow: I disagree. Someone can be completely be willing to learn and not feel that their sexuality is an issue, the same way someone can be completely willing to learn and not feel that their drinking is an issue or that their propensity for shallow relationships is an issue or any other number of things. My belief has always been that you should guide people as far as they are willing to be guided in hopes that they will see the benefits of holiness and later be willing to follow all the way. If you cut someone off at the pass because of a singular sin, it seems a bit shortsighted, if in every other way they yearn for more.

  16. I guess this is where we disagree then. I can agree that

    “you should guide people as far as they are willing to be guided in hopes that they will see the benefits of holiness and later be willing to follow all the way”

    But this won’t save them. Only true regonition of sin and a wish to repent and get rid of the sin is what will save. Salvation is through faith in Jesus, but that faith is preceeded and followed by repetance.

    See the youtube video on my post “Tomorrow is moving day”.
    http://thatdudeyouknow.wordpress.com/2008/06/30/%c2%a7196-tomorrow-is-moving-day/

    Amber was nauseated by it… 😉

    Now, technically, if I ran a messianic congregation, anyone would be welcome, and I wouldn’t have any system of membership. But for churches that do have that system (and I think most churches in the states do), I wouldn’t want homosexuals, living-together couples, or alcoholists as members of my congregation unless they are ready to change. I’m not saying they have to change first, but they must be ready to do so.

  17. thatdudeyouknow: Ultimately it’s always between one person and their Creator. I pray every day that where I fall short, God will fill in the gaps.

    I’m still a little thing. I can be allowed my idealism and naiveness. 😀

    And I can see where you are coming from, and why- we just disagree. I don’t have a problem with that, though.

  18. Pingback: Some excellent reading from my sister in faith at Emphatic Asterisk « Gay Catholics

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