Hearing Each Other (space for conversation on LGBT Life in the Church)

This blog was birthed out of a desire to reflect on the year that I’d
just experienced.
That reflection ended up morphing into me publicly coming out as gay.
Since coming out I’ve documented various reflections and experiences.
I’ve written poems and short stories.
I’ve made a digital imprint of my journey as I go through life.

I want to make a reflection here regarding the importance of dialogue in general but also as it relates to the conversation around what inclusion, love and care look like for the Church towards Queer (LGBTQIA+) people.

I’ve come to hold my queerness in a space of acceptance and not struggle.
I no longer struggle, deny or suppress the emotional, relational and sexual capacity within me.
I understand these parts of my personhood to be both innate and God-given.

I do not view my queerness as broken, or sinful, or in any way a displeasure or wall to God.
This acceptance was birthed out of a holding on to a belief that God accepts me.
This love of myself was grasped as I began to rest in Gods love.

For the longest time, I did struggle, deny, and suppress my relational orientation.
I believed it to be sin and by extension a barrier to God.
I accepted a view that part of the sanctification process that my faith in Jesus afforded me was a commitment to understanding the queerness within me as broken but not letting that deter me from leading a meaningful and faithful life.

Queerness was there, it wasn’t going away and Jesus still had me close.

Despite the denial and suppression, the fabric of my makeup,  and this undercurrent of internal queer reality did not diminish or go away.

Queerness was always present and it was a constant  reminder of a part of me  (through no conscious will of my own) that was not in right relationship with God or the men around me.
Part of the development of this blog over the course of the past eight months has been a hashing out of my journey of how I’ve come to terms with my Queerness.

Every day in some measure I face different degrees of what those terms are, have been and presently look like.

Here is where the idea of dialogue comes in.
My blog and everything I’ve tried to capture and share of  my own experience is just a tiny portion of the tens of thousands of individuals who are Queer and Christian and the many many more individuals and faith communities that those Queer Christian lives touch.
There is a whole spectrum of stories, convictions, and conversations around what the relational capacity and personal identifications of sexual and gender minorities mean.

Specifically, with gay, bi, and lesbian Christians there is the question of what their agency means and what that looks like in relation to God’s desire for our lives.

There are LGB Christians who commit to celibacy, or who enter into celibate- chaste partnerships or communes.
There are LGB Christians who enter into mixed-orientation marriages.
And finally, there are LGB Christians who pursue or who are in unions with members of their same gender and exercise full relational volition of their personhood with their significant other. Sex included.

Just as I have lived, prayed, sought counsel, wrestled, researched and sought the face and presence of God- I’ve landed where I am now and continue to walk each day. So to, have the many individuals I’ve mentioned up above done the same for their own lives.

Conversations were had with ourselves in relation to ourselves and to God first and that has extended into the life that we live with our faith communities.

When conversations happen it is important that space, humility, deference and care be given to those Queer people in the tapestry of our faith communities.
Their stories must be heard and theology must be held in tandem with grace and love.

 

Some understand love to mean non-affirmation of Queer persons emotional, relational and sexual capacity or in how they understand themselves and present to the world.

This non-affirmation is seen as what is best and most loving to the Queer person.It is seen also as obedience and love of God.

In a similar vein, some understand love to mean affirmation of the Queer persons emotional, relational and sexual capacity or how they understand themselves and relate to the world.

This affirmation is seen as what is best and most loving to the Queer person. It is seen also as obedience and love of God.
The divergence in views and approaches to care should be discussed in informed dialogue and a willingness to hear and receive differences in a space of love and intentionality to do better.

This should be true not only of this conversation but of any place where there is disagreement, a challenge of conviction, or cognitive dissonance.
I’m grateful that the Reformation Project in Atlanta a month from now will have such a discussion.
Here is a description  from the Reformation Project of what the hope for the dialogue will look like.

Too often, conversations about LGBT people in the church descend into bitter debates that divide rather than build up. Consequently, many Christians are wary of engaging the conversation, for fear of being called hateful or intolerant if they oppose same-sex relationships, or of having their faith in Jesus and the Bible called into question if they support same-sex relationships.

The Reformation Project firmly believes that it is possible to have better, more loving, and more Christ-like conversations about LGBT inclusion in the church that acknowledge the diversity of viewpoints that exist while also respecting and honoring one another as committed Christians regardless of our views on this topic.

We are excited to announce a special event on August 9 in Atlanta, called “Elevating the Dialogue on LGBT Inclusion in the Church.” Hosted at Renovation Church, this panel conversation will feature the Rev. Léonce Crump, Jr., senior pastor at Renovation Church; the Rev. Ashley Matthews, Eastside parish pastor at Trinity Anglican Church; and the Rev. Stan Mitchell, senior pastor at GracePointe Church. The panel will be moderated by Amelia Markham, the Atlanta organizer for The Reformation Project. While these pastors have different theological views on same-sex relationships, they are all committed to mutual grace, respect, and love as they model a better way forward for these conversations in the church.

It’s time to elevate the dialogue on LGBT inclusion in the church. Join us on August 9 at Renovation Church as we engage this important conversation.

 

 

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