Why would a straight, married, father of two heterosexual children, and Christian pastor want to get mixed up in the most controversial, hate-filled and career ending ministry in support of LGBTs? Especially when there is absolutely no pressure on me to enter this fray. No, I don't have a death wish, or have a gay lover secreted away somewhere. I'm basically a normal guy. I shy away from confrontation and go out of my way to find mutually satisfying outcomes in disputes.
So, what am I doing here? Very simply, I've learned that the gospel of Jesus Christ compels me to come to the side of the oppressed wherever and whenever they are found. Harvard’s Byrne Fone calls homophobia “the last respectable bigotry in America.” Christians may not be responsible for creating homophobia, but we sure are responsible for maintaining it. Victims of spiritual abuse (not to mention, for now, physical abuse) abound. We have literally driven these “other than ourselves” from our churches. They have been demonized, scapegoated and condemned for so long and so often that to find one out of the closet in a congregation beats the odds of winning the lottery. We should be ashamed, but we are not; we should repent, but we do not. And the most amazing thing of all is that we need, for our own sakes, the presence of nonheterosexual Christians in our congregations and don’t have a clue as to why.
I do not come to this struggle as their savior; I come as a repentant homophobe who has received much from the gay community and has more to learn about being a Christian from them. In future blogs, I intend to delve into the gifts gays bring to a congregation, gifts that are desperately needed, yet entirely absent from most congregations. Suffice it to say for now that the straight church has much to learn. In fact, if we don’t learn these lessons, we are at risk of losing our own way. No, I am no savior. I am a grateful recipient of their unmerited grace.
LGBT Christians (yes, there is such a thing), do not need us, at least not in our present state of hostility. They have managed to carve out an existence at the edge of the church at great expense to themselves which has ennobled them in ways that we cannot approach. When, at last, the straight congregations find their way to welcoming and affirming them, it will not be because we finally understand the issue. No, it will be because we finally understand our own desperate need for them in our midst.
This blog, then, is an effort to bring the straight church to its senses. It is an effort to bring the message of the inclusive gospel that will confront us with our sins and bring us to our knees. It is a plea to those LGBTs we’ve textually abused not to abandon us, but to nurture us and witness to the life changing power of Jesus. This is why I am in this struggle, and hope to convince you to join it yourself. I can guarantee you two things: your life will never be the same, and you’ll be thankful for that. On the other hand, if you don’t need convincing, welcome aboard. I hope to hear from you, as well as those who disagree. Maybe we can come together on at least this: what we share in Christ is more valuable than our disagreements. And I ask you, would you be willing to extend that grace to those “other than ourselves?”See also, www.clergyunited.org for more information.