It’s June. And time for LGBTQ Pride celebrations around the world. What follows is an essay I wrote to an overlooked segment of the LGBTQ community—LGBTQ Christians or rather LGBTQ ex-Christians and the importance of being visible and active congregants despite having been wounded by organized religion. For those who have been wounded, there’s a tendency to throw Jesus out with the holy water, but I’d like to offer another option. What follows is my response to those who would deny anyone’s invitation and rightful seat at Christ’s table. Peace be with you.
As a forty-eight-inch tall, gay, Black man, I encounter plenty of people who think and demonstrate through their actions, You don’t belong because . . . With that said, my need for a self-concept that is not tethered to shifting and inaccurate human opinions is integral for my well-being.
My relationship with Christ grounds my identity in him and that’s been a good thing. A very good thing. I am well aware of the fruit in my life this relationship has produced; including understanding myself, the world, how I fit into, and most importantly my value to Christ—which supersedes the opinion of anyone.
And because I value that relationship and the positive effects it has had on me, whenever the opportunity presents itself, I talk about it with anyone interested (or write about it, if prompted), but do so with respect, care, and an awareness that not everyone has the same faith. And some claim no faith at all.
You may ask, What is this relationship you speak of? In a nutself, this excerpt from my daily devotions really sums things up nicely.
I am nearer than you think, richly present in all your moments. You are connected to me by Love-bonds that nothing can sever. However, you may sometimes feel alone because your union with Me is invisible. Ask Me to open your eyes so that you can find Me everywhere. The more aware you are of My Presence, the safer you feel. This is not some sort of escape from reality, it is tuning in to ultimate reality. I am far more Real than the world you can see, hear, and touch. Faith is the confirmation of things we do not see and the conviction of their reality, perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses.
—Sarah Young, “Jesus Calling”
A great many people have been offended by the church, sometimes because of a hasty slip of the tongue or a misunderstanding, damaged through deliberate abuse of power, or flat-out rejected. In no way should the wretched and selfish actions of those who claim to be a representative of Christ deter anyone from attempting to find Christ.
Make no mistake. Christ is very clear in his warning to those who would harm anyone in seeking a relationship with him:
It would be better for you if a millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea than for you to cause one of these little ones to stumble. —Luke 17:2 (New Revised Standard Version)
Trauma can be an effective inhibitor. Really. Why would anyone want to return to the scene of a crime perpetrated against them when no form of reconciliation has been offered, let alone recognition of the injury?