If you’ve read my blogs before, you’ll know that I’m particularly passionate about quite a few subjects when it comes to the Christian faith. One topic in particular is close to my heart at the moment; homosexuality. It’s in the headlines a lot, mainly focusing on the churches opinions and decisions on allowing same sex marriage ceremonies in different parishes. How ever, to me, the church has got it wrong, to the point of the sheer mention of the word Christianity is enough to make people angry and walk away. But the church is not the only one to get it wrong.
I have a very close friend who is gay, and, having blogged on various related issues, I thought I understood what the LGBT community had been through. But when I went onto the Gay Christian Network (GCN) with that attitude, I very quickly became unstuck. Despite my intentions, I was treating them differently to anyone else purely because they were gay and didn’t realise it. They encouraged me to read peoples stories and listen to the likes of Justin Lee (GCN’s Executive Director). I quickly found out that I didn’t truly understand because they all have different experiences and my sexuality is not something I’ve ever had to question. It also opened my eyes to what I was doing; I was trying too hard. I was trying to build bridges my way instead of listening to them first. At the end of day gay people are just that; people. They’re no different to any other person on the face of the planet and listening to Justin and engaging with people on GCN has shown me that even good intentions can still result in negative consequences.
Looking around at comments on Facebook and other forums by Christians, I’m seeing the same mistakes I made being made by others. There also seems to be a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding on the nature of sexuality and what Christians think gay people get up to.
So what can we do to try and help with this? One thing this whole experience has taught me is that if you want to understand someone or a group of people, go and talk to them. So below are 2 talks that aim to do just that. The first one is from GCN Radio where Justin Lee and “Montana Marty” discuss some of the things that they wish straight Christians knew
This second one is a short video, again by Justin Lee titled 4 tips for talking to your gay friends, which covers some of the points raised in the above talk, but also highlights what I said earlier – that even good intentions can still result in negative consequences.
There are some very legitimate discussions that can (or need) to take place between LBGT people and Christians. I’ve attempted to address some of them here and here. The problem is that so much damage has been said and done that both sides are now highly suspicious of each other, if not just flat out hate each other. I’m not saying the blame lies totally with one side or the other, but speaking as a Christian and looking at the argument from a Christian perspective, it’s a sad indictment of Christianity today that GCN has to exist as somewhere where LBGT Christians can go and be safe. It’s existene proves that they can’t go to Christian forums and feel like they’re accepted. Yet GCN is actually one of the few places where I can go and feel safe and accepted. To me, this kind of environment is where Ghandi’s comments ring true;
I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.
It must be pointed out that whether Ghandi actually said this is up for debate  but this is a view I think that is shared by many; there are too many Christians who simply aren’t being Christ-like when it comes to this matter. I wish we could all just be Christians and dispense with the other labels; heterosexual attractions are not a prerequisite for passionately loving Jesus. So how do we move forwards? If I knew the right answer I’d probably be in line for the Nobel Peace Prize. I think we need to start having a discussion which at the moment, just isn’t happening. We’re not having a debate, we’re having bits and pieces of a shouting match to quote N.T Wright . Now I could wax lyrical about Justin Lee’s book Torn: Rescuing the gospel from the gays vs Christians debate and in chapter 15 he lists 7 things that both LGBT and Christians can do to move forward;
- Christians must show more grace, especially in the midst of disagreement
- LGBT and Christians must eduate Christians
- Christians must move away from an ‘ex-gay’ approach
- Celibacy must be a viable option
- The myth that the Bible is anti-gay must be shattered
- Openly gay Christians must find their place in the church
- We all must learn how to dialogue effectively
I titled this blog LGBT vs Christian; time to draw a line? I don’t mean draw a line in dismissing the past because that would be dangerous. But I think to begin the process of moving forward, both parties need to give each other another chance, not hold the past against them and be open to learning about the other persons views. But who’s going to make the first move?
First published 9th March 2013