Archive for the ‘gay rights’ Category

Why it’s important for a Catholic High School to have a Gay Straight Alliance   2 comments

This blog post is specifically related to events at Vanier Catholic Secondary School in Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada in February of 2013.  Since that time, the Pope and the Catholic Church have slightly changed their policies on the treatment of LGBT people.  I also now work at a Catholic University which is not only tolerant of LGBT, but has a group on campus promoting and celebrating LGBT Pride.  Social Justice themes pervade the campus and provide the kind of haven that some LGBT were looking for in a Christian setting.  However, this essay, written in the heat of the controversy in Whitehorse still stands as a culmination of what I learned about asking for what you need in your high school.

Vanier Catholic Secondary School put on their school website in 2013 incendiary comments about LGBT.  “The 25-page policy, freely available on the Vanier website, supports the Catholic Church’s official position on homosexuality numerous times, calling it “intrinsically disordered and contrary to the natural law.” Even unexpressed same-sex urges are considered a disorder and are described as a “strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil.”’ (Yukon News, Feb 27, 2013)

Students, waking up to their school’s blatant accusations about LGBT students, had every right to be afraid.

Canada had JUST passed a law requiring all schools to allow gay-straight alliances, and Vanier’s response was to buck the law on the grounds of Catholic teaching and write it on their school website to justify not complying with the law. This put students at risk.  By calling LGBT students “intrinsic moral evil”–their own students at Vanier—they were promoting hatred towards their students from other students.  I felt as a gay Christian (who happened to live next door to the school) that I had a moral obligation to suggest ways that students could still ask, strongly, for their GSA.  I used the techniques lived out in Martin Luther King’s life and the non-violent resistance techniques he taught others.  Vanier was breaking the law on religious grounds; and they were also condemning their own students on their website.  Herein lies the context for my blogpost.  This does not represent my views about Catholicism today as lived out at University of Dayton, but was certainly relevant for the place and time and Pope we had at that time.  Pope Francis would not make his appearance until March (a few weeks later) and would not promote more tolerance towards LGBT people until many months later. Understand that the Pope and church doctrine still do not accept same-sex marriage, but ask that LGBT people be treated with dignity.

Below is the original post.

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The current mess at Vanier Catholic Secondary School is all of their own making. If students just stay quiet, I’m sure this will all pass and things will go back to normal. There will be a ruling that Vanier designates their document on the school’s website as a religious document. Yukon School policy will be laid beside it to tell gay students that they are great and that Yukon schools are not discriminating. That will “satisfy” the distance Yukon Education wants to have between Catholic dogma and school policy. Unfortunately, the heart of Yukon Education will remain hollow if the Catholic school does not create a gay-straight alliance as they are now required by law to do.

Why is this important?

If the Separation of Documents is the final goal, it leaves gay students (and straight students) vulnerable and in danger.

Anti-gay doctrine remains a part of Catholic teaching. As a Christian myself, I know this doctrine is not representative of Christianity as it is practiced in many major denominations. Lutherans and Presbyterians and Anglicans, Episcopalians, United Church of Christ, United Church of Canada all have come to a better translation of the Bible that preserves God’s moral teachings but accepts all people regardless of their sexuality. These denominations are just as faithful to God, have just as much moral integrity, and care just as much about their kids as conservative Catholics do. And I would argue, in this case, that they do that MORE than their conservative Catholic counterparts.

Loving your kid means protecting them from danger. Loving your kid means teaching them how to treat other people. Loving them means passing on your cultural and spiritual beliefs because they are important and lead to a better society.

This is why having a Gay-Straight Alliance inside a Catholic high school is so important. In a place where students cannot escape a religious teaching that demeans them there must be a haven, a safe place. Students are required by law to go to some school. We can’t stop home-schooling parents who have an anti-gay dogma attached to every lesson, but we can help students that are in public and private schools. Vanier is not entirely private since it receives public funding. Therefore the onus is on the government to protect the students.

They did that. With the recent government ruling requiring all schools to have a GSA if students request it, the federal government handed the students a huge shield of protection. Students have to ask for it. Vanier students did and they were not granted that shield. That’s a legal matter. However, if students only try once and are refused, they might not get the government stepping in. Unless they get lawyers involved nothing may happen. Students, you’re going to have to get Vanier to step in.

But wait, let me explain a bit more why this safe haven is important. Religion is not bad. Catholic teaching is not bad. God is not bad. We have some pretty good moral teachings inside the Catholic church and Vanier tries to look at the world through a Christian lens. It doesn’t always see it correctly. But it tries. I think a public school devoid of any spirituality, or the lack of recognition of the role spirituality and faith play in everyone’s daily life, does a disservice to kids too. I think a religious life is a thoughtful one. And one that teaches you how to live in a community.

So I don’t think gay kids should run from a Catholic school. I do think they have no idea how much power to change their school they have. Students on the inside are far more powerful than those of us on the outside. The school will not change without pressure from within as well as from without.

Gay kids need a safe space away from bad doctrine. If a gay kid is fed that he is “morally evil” as that document written by the bishop on the website said, they will do one of two things: internalize the hatred of themselves or never have a spiritual life or be interested in faith again.

Churches listen up. You’re in a pickle. You are going to run out of new members soon and will die off. Unless you embrace gays. They are your key to salvation. Ironic, isn’t it? For your faith to continue you must accept gays as they are. They will help you spread ye faith. If not, the way you treat them will pull folks to their side and everyone will leave you. They will brand you Westboro and do everything they can against you.

Students, here’s your power: read Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail”– there’s a link on my website here. I know it’s long but it details a form of nonviolent resistance that you can do inside the walls of your school.

My suggestions for you to get the changes you need to survive–and this just a GSA–are as follows:

1. Form your GSA. Do it at recess or in the halls or at lunch or in the locker room. Do it and don’t listen when adults try to stop you. Form your club.

2. Meet your club inside the school after school hours.

3. They will try to end it. What power do they have when you have the government of Canada behind you? Meet anyway. Be clever. Meet in multiple places. Resist them and be strong in your GSA.

4. Make positive gay posters and put them up. Let all students know that your GSA remains strong. And that gay students are loved and supported by God.

5. Be strong. These posters will be taken down. You will be threatened by the administration. They will try to find the ring leaders. Don’t tell them who’s in your GSA. Maybe everyone. They will suspend some of you. Go to your blogs and write about WHY you were suspended. You were suspended for asking for a GSA. This action is illegal under Canada Law. The school is aiming for trouble.

6. After some of you are suspended, the rest get to do a sit-in. Sit in the main lobby or the admin office. Just sit on the floor in the chairs and ask politely for a GSA. Make your presence known. You have to organise this sit in. You need thirty or forty students and they have to skip class to do it. They have to stay on the office for hours. It’s okay. Make signs, positive gay ones, and ones that ask for your GSA guaranteed under law. This will push them.

7. They will probably suspend a lot of you. Or they will call the cops. But I doubt the cops part. You are not breaking the law and they are. All of you should tweet about it while you are doing it. Create a Facebook page during the sit in. Let EVERYONE IN WHITEHORSE know you are doing it.

8. Vanier does not want continued bad publicity. But your pressure will force them into a decision. Either they will let you form a GSA or every parent in town will put more pressure on them. You will win. You will get your GSA.

9. Beware the half-measure. They might a) promise to consider it if you leave. They just want you gone. Sit still until the school allows the GSA. B) they’ll offer you a false version of GSA– One Heart, or some such crap which is still their dogma covered in a candy coating. Say no. You will call it a GSA and it will have positive messages about being gay. The only way you give in is when they let you have the safe haven. If One Heart is not a safe place for gays, it is not the GSA required by law and not a place where gays can feel proud of who they are. Doesn’t matter what it is called, it must promote pride. You get to write the rules.

10. There is power and safety in numbers. The more who join your cause inside the school the more good you can do. This is why YOUR GSA will actually be an Alliance of students. Because you will have fought together.

Gay students must have a safe place inside a Christian school to be gay. Or else it can kill them. Kill their faith. Kill their concepts of self and God. Eventually kill them. Straight students who get taught that it’s okay to deny students their Canadian rights, or push around a minority, or discriminate based on what they were told God thinks will do those things in society. They will lead workplaces and cities and our country. Schools can’t teach intolerance inside a democracy.

Students you have the right to safety. And you have the right to ask for your GSA and to get it. Now go and get what you need.

Don’t leave the school–transform it.

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(postcard image by Joyce Majiski)

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Posted March 7, 2013 by jstueart in churches, gay rights, opinion

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CBC’s DNTO to air my story on Coming Out to My Church for “Lost Causes,” Nov 3   Leave a comment

Definitely Not the Opera, (DNTO) a CBC Radio One program devoted to the art of storytelling in Canada, asked me to tell my story of coming out to my church for their Nov 3 show “Lost Causes”.

I had pitched the idea to them last year for a different show called “Making Enemies” but withdrew the pitch because a) I don’t think I meant to make enemies, nor do I think I have made enemies; and 2) because I didn’t want to restir a pot that has finally calmed down.

But they remembered my pitch.  And they sought me out.  Which is humbling, and cool.  We recorded on Friday morning and they are editing my lengthy story to 3-4 minutes.  I appreciate Andrew Friesen’s belief that my story was important and needed to be told.  I feel like the story is more appropriate under “Lost Causes” because trying to reason with people who don’t want to listen to you, or discuss with you–and believing that you alone have to spark change–well, it can feel like a “Lost Cause”.  But in the end–and the end hasn’t come yet–who knows if the cause is lost?  I think every person who says the church must look at the evidence, must consider the Christian testimonies of LGBT folks in the discussion, is a step towards change.  We need more people who realize how many people have fallen away from the faith, have decided against Christ, have been repelled from the church, and who, sometimes when there is no hope left, taken their own lives, all because the Church has historically refused to consider the scriptures in an accepting light–and this causes their members to refuse to accept their children in an accepting light.  This splits familes.  My God and my Christ are not what I encounter when I come into a Baptist Church anymore.  I daresay they wouldn’t recognize it.  Churches are not all one defined Mass though–as many churches are beginning to change their minds about LGBT people.  Episcopals, Lutherans, Presbyterians, United Church of Canada–all have begun seeing that this is just the next issue the church has to rethink.  As it did slavery, race, and its treatment of Women.  And divorce.  Change comes when people inside churches decide they can’t hold false doctrine anymore.  Christianity and Faith are not the problem.  Interpretation is.

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Introducing the New Biola University Queer Underground!   Leave a comment

It is with great pleasure that I read of the exciting things happening at Biola University in California.  It breaks my heart to go back onto Christian campuses sometimes–knowing that the LGBT community cannot express themselves as both “good Christians” and LGBT people (unless they pledge celibacy).  My recent trip to Calvin College moved me to respond–and while I see in SAGA a group that is surviving under the pressures of Calvin, I see the students at Biola, riskier perhaps, thriving.   They are pushing the envelope, not happy with the “yard privileges” that the university gives them, still prisoners, in many ways, of the administration and policy decisions on sexuality that are in place at Biola.  They have instead spoken out, strongly, and I hope that their speaking out creates a conversation for change in the administration.

For more amazing stuff, read the article in Inside Higher ED here.  I put a picture of Bryn Terfel as Wotan in the Ring Cycle here to let you know, Biola Queer students, that I think of you as bold warriors.  That what you are doing takes courage.  That it’s going to be a tough fight.  That the denomination which controls Biola may not play fair.  But that you are warriors, every one of you.

May God bless you and bring you peace in your decisions, in your convictions, and strength in holding to them.

For the Biola Queer Underground’s website, click here.

I hope more Christian campuses follow your lead.

Gay at Calvin College   9 comments

I’m here at Calvin College attending the Festival of Faith and Writing, one of the most amazing, one of the best, writing conferences out there.  The quality of the speakers—Gary Schmidt, Jonathan Safran Foer, Marilynne Robinson–not to mention the different seminars I’ve already taken–gives depth and urgency to writers who hope to change the world.  I have never felt such deep emotional responses to these calls and challenges to be good writers and write good stories.  Calvin College does a great thing for writers of faith.

And yet…. I find myself, as I knew I would, disturbed by Calvin College’s policy towards GLBT students.  It’s an ethical dilemma.

Calvin’s stance on GLBT issues

To their credit, Calvin is far more liberal than most Christian colleges.  They do not run them off campus, as they did in my day.  So by that measure, I should be pleased.  I have read their FAQs on their policy towards homosexuality and GLBT students, and you can read it here:  Calvin’s FAQs about homosexuality.

You’ll notice that it’s very kind and generous.  It acknowledges that gays and lesbians are attracted to same sex people.

“While the orientation seems usually to lie outside the scope of an individual’s will, by God’s power and grace, behavior lies within it.

Calvin College is also concerned that homosexual members of our community are treated with respect, justice, grace and understanding in the Spirit of Christ. We recognize the complexity of current issues around homosexuality and desire to engage this conversation with courage, humility, prayerfulness and convicted civility.”  (I use the quotation marks here because my pic makes it difficult to know where the quote starts and ends.)

It’s that sexual behavior that seems so SEPARATE to Calvin; it’s almost ridiculous.  However, they want to frame a “conversation” in respectful terms.  Conversation, of course, means that both sides are listening.  But I appreciate their dedication to civility, a civility that they have the authority to enforce.

In the classroom, Calvin College notes that multiple perspectives may be explored by students:

In exploring the full range of human experience, faculty will certainly acquaint students with many perspectives that are inconsistent with the confessions, but will do so from a perspective of adherence to the confessions.

That policy– the adherence to confessions–can be found in the the newest document on academic freedom for professors and students.   Mentioned in these FAQs, it addresses how faculty should approach difficult topics.  The underlying conclusion, as you read here, is that the administration is not wrong, and that they are not the ones listening, but the ones correcting:

We have learned that the best outcomes for such conversations are those in which an inquirer later reports “I’m glad I asked. I really do see this now from another, more biblical, point of view,” or where the faculty or staff member reports “I’m glad you raised this. I hadn’t been aware of all the ramifications of my view, and I’ve now refined it to take other concerns into account,” or where both later say “we disagree, but we remain open to learning from each other” or “I realize that I need to learn more and think further about any position I advance.” Not every inquiry will end in this way. But we have learned to give such questions every chance to end with a positive outcome.

I like to point out that their “positive outcome” is one where there is learning on the inquirer’s side only.  However, Calvin’s new policies on homosexuality do protect gays and lesbians from negative slurs, prejudice, etc.— however, they don’t realize the institutionalized creation of prejudice they engender by their different treatment of gays and lesbians.  Watch the FAQs carefully:

[SAGA–Sexuality Awareness, Gender Acceptance] is not a ‘student organization,’ but a group of students with a counselor mentor from the Broene Counseling Center, who seek to educate others at Calvin about the challenges faced by homosexual students.

Gays are given groups within the auspices of counseling.  “These are not student organizations” the policy says emphatically, thereby denying them student rights.  They are, instead, places of refuge for gays and lesbians and places where they can, apparently, come to terms with the fact that God wants them to remain celibate–and teach others how to treat them better because of their “challenges”.  *note the student response below for a great insight into SAGA and Calvin College that I didn’t know, and am very pleased to hear.  While policy may be against gays at Calvin, the people there aren’t.

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No More Straight-Jacket: The Abundant Life We are Promised   1 comment

To be a Christian, it’s important to live a life of integrity, honesty, transparency, and of love.  Being in the closet doesn’t allow these things to happen.  You will find it difficult to love others if you can’t love yourself first, and increasingly, hiding who you are will take away the friendships you wanted to preserve.  Being in the closet is a false sense of security–and like every big secret, it takes a big toll.

But how do you be who you are and keep the church and the faith and the God that you love?  Where is the abundant life Christ promised us?  While we, as Christians, are ready to sacrifice our pleasures and lives for the cause of Christianity—certainly we’re not all required to give up our sexual expression.  And I can’t believe God intended only gay people to do that either, while letting straight Christians have more freedom.

If fear keeps us in the closet, it will have to be “love” that casts out that fear.  If love is the answer to eradicating fear, it’s going to take a lot of people’s decisions.  I’ve outlined a few of them in the pages:  what to do when someone comes out to your church, and what to do when you want to come out to your church.  But let’s look at the life you can have as a gay Christian.

“I have come that you might have life and have it more abundantly”

Amen.  So what will that look like, and how do I know that this life is possible?  First, I know it’s possible because Christ offered it to everyone–not just the straight folk.  We already saw how Jesus treated those who “sinned,” which in his eyes had to be everyone.  Think about it.  And he affirmed them.  Welcomed and affirmed them.  His “Good News” is for everyone.

More Freedom to be who you need to be

If and when you come out, you will find a great freedom.  “The truth shall set you free” never meant more to anyone else than it does to GLBT Christians.  Literally it allows us to stretch and grow, unencumbered by the constant weight of our own fear and the constant work of our own deception.  You will find yourself able to love others deeply, more deeply than you ever have before—because you have been rejected too.  And you have tried to play the game of perfection.

I’ll tell you this about that game: you’re not going to be as nitpicky about perfection anymore.  Because tied to the pursuit of perfection is the pursuit of a perfect reputation.   And once you come out, your reputation will take a beating, at least in some circles.  Whew!  That’s a load off your shoulders, I expect.  Now you don’t have to live up to anyone’s expectations.  You and God still work things out, but you don’t have to be “perfect.”

You will be where Jesus was–not in the elite, not in the people polishing their Sunday School attendance pins, or seeing who could outdo whom–you will be with the people who are hurting, and who need to know that God and Jesus still care for them.  Until you are rejected, you almost can’t see the invisible “Rejected” around you.

It’s an Old Message for the New Evangelicals

It’s amazing the parallels between Paul’s struggle with bringing Gentiles in to the mostly Jewish church, and today’s struggle with the acceptance of the GLBT community in the mostly Straight church.  But Jews adapted–and ironically, the church became mostly gentile.  I don’t think the church will become mostly gay…. However.  The reason that the Christian church lost its Jewish heritage is because mainstream Jews didn’t want to give up their traditions to embrace new ones.  The church gathered members from the Gentile community.  Who knows if the parallel will extend to modern churches?  Churches without gay members might completely break away, and we will see that those churches that accept gay members are the only true churches left.

As a Gay Christian, you get to talk about Jesus in a completely different way.  Suddenly God and Jesus are divorced from mainstream evangelical creeds that come across as judgmental, fear-inducing and shame-oriented.  You get to bring the original message–of hope, of love, of salvation–that has gotten mired by 21st Century Corporate-Modeled churches who think of membership and tithes as dues to a club, and the prestige of membership–with its benefits–as available to those who can pay.  (To be fair, some MCC churches also stress a financial angle–for the good of God and the good of the mission–and they can add just as much pressure for the generosity of those who attend services.)

You get a chance to show Jesus on the right side of justice and the right side of history once again—you get to save Jesus from the Conservative Evangelical Doctrine that had him trapped.  People need to know they are loved and accepted in whatever way they want to express themselves.  Christ isn’t Republican, Conservative, Wealthy or Exclusively White.  But he seems owned by them.  You get a chance to break that mold, to show Jesus as the person who can go anywhere to talk to anyone and spread joy and love to them.  You get to be Christ to a world that needs him.

There is a Joy in being liberated from the confines of current Christianity

The Rule is Love.  Love God, Love Each Other.  In Jesus’ words, it was “To love the Lord your God with all your heart, your soul and mind.” And the second was like it–that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves.  All the commandments and laws HANG on this idea, he said.  Notice that it’s not the reverse.  Loving God and Each Other do not HANG on keeping the commandments.  We get caught up in commandment keeping, rule keeping, and lose sight of what’s truly important.  Of who is truly important.  I’ve heard countless preachers amend Jesus by saying, “and the way to love God is to keep his commandments…”  and then they list a hundred rules that you have to follow or else you make God angry.  Thank God you don’t have to listen to them any longer.

Preachers have power, for now.  They’re enjoying their time with power–and they can bring politicians to their knees.  I wait for the day that a politician puts a preacher in his place.   But you don’t have to worry anymore about preachers.  You can if you want–you can fight them and tell them they’re wrong, but you can also turn around and do good in the community and let the false churches and the false prophets rail on….

Your Power is with God.  God is not with the Preachers who are against you.  Romans 8:31 “If God is for you, who can be against you?”  That goes for Preachers and Evangelicals and those who have anything to say about the exclusionary nature of God, or his “rule” of celibacy for gay people.  Be the disciples who were in direct conflict with the City (Acts 5) who preached the gospel because they had to obey God rather than man.  Let no one stop you from telling gays and lesbians, bisexuals, transgenders, and straight people too that God loves them–and that God has a plan for them.  Tell them it does not include suffering under the straightjackets of any church that says the GLBT community must stop “acting on” their gayness.

The Lost and the Evangelicals: a reversal of roles

Today, the GLBT community can be the evangelicals who tell the good news of Christ’s love.  The churches, unfortunate for them, get to be the LOST who need to hear this message.  They dished it out for so long, they believe they can say no wrong, but God knows they have gotten off topic and off message.  It’s time they got a new lesson in Christianity.

“It is Good that Man not Be Alone”

The importance of the Genesis story for man is that God knew that Adam should not be alone—and neither should anyone.  Though Adam was straight and needed an Eve, you are not, and you need a partner.  Many in the gay community have given up on partnership.  No wonder–the straight community has not allowed us to have it for hundreds of years–but it is still a good thing to have a partner, to not be alone.

You have the freedom now to find someone, and over the next ten years, there will be more and more Christian men and women to choose from—but get someone who can love, whom the bitterness and cynicism given to us by the straight culture has not broken–if you find the cynical and the bitter, love them and help them know they don’t have to listen to anyone who tells them that they are less.  It’s a NEW OLD Good News—the original is the best, and it was for everyone.

Take back Christianity.  You are made to have an abundant life in Christ Jesus and the enemies who come in Christ’s name are not acting anymore on His behalf.  They have lost their way.  Love them and when they don’t listen, wipe the dust from your shoes and move out to those who will listen to the great message of New Life.

  

Posted October 3, 2011 by jstueart in churches, coming out, gay rights

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Whitehorse Opens a Chapter of PFLAG

Justin Lemphers has taken the lead in developing and starting a chapter of PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Gays and Lesbians).  These groups are essential for families who have questions about their children, or relatives, or parents, who may come out to them.   They are also a godsend for those us who are gay or lesbian–where we can ask questions when we don’t know who to turn to.  They provide a safe space to discuss your questions about gay and lesbian, bisexual and transgendered issues–a safe space to ask your questions, no matter where you are coming from. 

See this new article by Justine Davidson in the Whitehorse Star for a look at the reasoning behind starting a PFLAG.  Listen to this CBC interview with Justin Lemphers. 

Justin’s information and the website for PFLAG:  

Justin (332-2330) and on the web: http://www.pflagcanada.ca/en/index-e.asp

Come be part of the healing when the meetings start up in January.  If you’re looking for people who have some experience with going through a family member or friend coming out, PFLAG is designed as that perfect resource.  Or if you don’t live in Whitehorse, use the link to find a chapter in your area.

Barna Research Group Study of the Spiritual Life of Gays   1 comment

The Barna Group recently did a survey of gay spiritual life, as compared to straight counterparts.  The study surprised them.  Since their copyright disclaimer says we can’t quote from them without permission, I’ll direct you to their website, from the link above.  Read the survey.  It’s short.

But the Barna Research Group found that gays took their faith seriously, even if churches wouldn’t allow them in.  The gay community is huge and varied.  Gay people are married, have kids, have respectable jobs, are responsible, moral, faithful, compassionate and Christian, and they are also atheist, and Buddhist, and some are irresponsible, some are immoral, some are unmarried–in effect, they have the same population dynamics that represent you.  You just don’t see them coming to your church if your church has a policy against gays.

I think George Barna’s comments show, remarkably, that despite the Christian church’s pushing away gays from church, they have not succeeded in pushing them away from faith.  Further, Barna notes that the stereotypes break down when you see this survey.  Good for us!

The questions and the answers

What I think is obvious, though, is, when straights and gays are surveyed, that their differences in church attendance, in the importance of religion, in the view of God, or the way our faith guides our lives, have a lot to do with how gays are currently treated by the church. Would you want to make “orthodox Christianity” part of your life if you were told that God, and that orthodox faith, condemns you?

The questions the Barna survey asked: whether they would call themselves Christian or if they were committed to the Christian faith?  The fact that four out of 10 gays said they were committed is AMAZING.  But the “noticeable gap” can be explained by the fact that the Christian Faith is not committed to reaching out to gays–but is  committed to reaching out to married heterosexuals, and it is committed to pushing away gays, especially married gays (who have to be “active lifestyle” advocates.)

Again, the Barna survey findings think it is “interesting” that homosexuals aren’t involved in their “local church.”  I’m just not sure if the Barna people’s next survey ought not to be a survey of local churches that allow gay people.  That might clear up the mystery.  That gays don’t feel their faith is “communal”, but instead “individual” also reflects the lack of positive experience in communal church situations.  Much safer to practice faith as an individual.  It’s safer at home, by yourself.  Our views of God are wider because we are trying to find a view of God that has not been appropriated by people who condemn us. And certainly we don’t want Fred Phelps’ God.

Why wouldn’t homosexuals buy into a Bible as the “accurate word of God” as much as straight people do?    Biblical inerrancy has gone hand in hand with condemnation of gays and lesbians.  Their literal interpretation often follows those 1950s translations of the “clobber passages,” reading “homosexuals” as the favorite whipping boy.  It’s no wonder gays would think that there might be an error or two in the translation.  It’s a miracle gays have a christian faith at all, if the central book, the Bible, is viewed as inerrant in its literal 1950s  translation.

I think the survey reveals the damage done to gays and lesbians in churches and the remarkable resiliency of their faith despite persecution.

I applaud the Barna Group and challenge them to conduct a survey on area churches and their practices towards gays and lesbians both in their church and outside their church.  Secondly, a survey that asked members of local churches what they think they should do in regards to gays and lesbians who come to their church, and where they think the church will be in ten years on this issue.

 

 

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