As I was preparing for bed last night, I had an experience that has become more and more common for me in recent months. Out of the blue, a ministry acquaintance messaged me with a challenge to explain whether I really believed that homosexuality is a sin. This was said with the practiced wide eyed concern of the Church lady who has seen the preacher’s wife at the liquor store.
My role as an LGBTQ Ally
I have been open about my support of LGBTQ+ people in my current position, and on social media. The “concerned party” was responding to a post I shared condemning the Liberty Counsel’s advocacy for removing LGBTQ+ people from the new anti-lynching law. The inquisitor never addressed the issue of violence against LGBTQ+ folks, and instead wanted to quiz me on doctrinal purity.
I have a set of answers that I give to such people. Jesus didn’t address homosexuality at all. The clobber passages in Leviticus are open to interpretation. Soddom and Gomorrah is about lack of hospitality. I am glad that these folks choose to talk to me in relative privacy, rather than yelling on Facebook. I really am.
Walking in their shoes.
But here’s the thing I hadn’t really thought of until recently. It is exhausting and disheartening always having to defend yourself for a conviction that God is Love and loves everyone. It is exhausting seeing people willfully skip over issues of love of neighbor and harm being done to young LGBTQ+ people. All just to be able to slam down a Bible and prove their purity. I find myself with less and less energy for making the same points, especially when I am pretty sure that their opinion will not change.
Then, I imagined I wasn’t a straight, white, cisgender male. How much more demoralizing it must be to have to justify your own existence and your own love. How terrible to have to argue that God loves even you, while knowing the person you are talking to believes that is impossible. The frustration of continually pushing against barriers to my own participation and leadership in Church. It is no wonder that depression and anxiety are rampant among our LGBTQ+ family.
What we can do as allies.
I think this is where allies, particularly in the Church, can play a helpful role. We can take the time to make the arguments, give the theological interpretations, preach the sermons, and post the Facebook links. Yes, someone will probably talk about us. Yes, we will have to answer the same questions; either in public or in private. But we can do so without worrying that someone will physically harm us, make our lives miserable at work, or ban us from our place of worship. We can be a shield against the flood of negativity, ignorance, homophobia and hate that assault our LGBTQ+ family all the time.