How might Church welcome the LGBT Community?
We appear to now have 2 separate camps. Firstly we have a group of people who hold tight to the 'fact' that homesexuality is a sin, that the Bible 'clearly' states that homosexuality is defined as wrong, and that all those whom identify as LGBT+ may be welcomed into the Church but must confess and repent of their sins and do so no more.
I wonder if those already in Church with regard to their sins...'do so no more'?
As a 'straight ally' and once 'fundamentalist', I would now ask myself:
When did I decide that I was a heterosexual?
Therefore, those within the LGBT community must have been born as such and would the God, that I see as one of such incredible love, allow such people to be born to be 'eternally damned' (as I frequently get told on Twitter).
I'll leave the Biblical arguments to those who are far more knowledgeable than I. Below is an accepted explanation that the Bible does not damn the LGBT community but accepts them dearly.
We also have another group who welcome the LGBT community in word but I wonder whether these people need to stand up and truly welcome them more demonstrably. We currently have a series of discussion formats between these separate groups, some in the CoE and soon, I hope, in the denomination I worship in. From what I have seen these discussions are guided with sensitivity.
What may have been missed is the ongoing trauma to many Christians, those who are LGBT, who still remain outside of the Church. Here Vicky Beeching captures that concern in a tweet after the consecration of 2 new female Bishops.
So how might the Church welcome the LGBT Community?
It's a lovely word which is often utilised; however, let us consider what this means with respect to the LGBT community. When the acronym LGBT is used we often forget that it really is LGBT+, or QUILTBAG+ (in fact I recall a video which said that there were 33 'labels' which were in use!). There already is such great diversity; hence, to make it simple, don't worry about it,
just treat them all as human beings.
Yes we will be endeared to some more than others, and one or 2 will rub us the wrong way, as we will do to them, but that has nothing to do with their gender or sexuality but because we are humans - all different but children of God.
2. Push the Boundaries
If we had some children in our congregation, we would move our services towards their needs. Likewise with the older or more mature (or even wiser!) generation, we would cater for them.
Let's stop and ask ourselves, more so ask those we have just welcomed, how can we support you? Let's push our boundaries to warmly, lovingly welcome all into the Church of God.
3. Don't just say, do
It may be easier to welcome them into the Church building but when life is tough, away from the Church, will we stand for our newly found friends? Would you for all others?
If you knew a member of the Church were struggling, would you be there to listen, to offer that shoulder to cry on, to give them material support..? hey we may have to go out of our comfort zone here, but by listening we can offer the actual support they may need away from the Church. [I thought the Church was the people anyway].
We went to Pride in London - miles from our comfort zone, but it was brilliant.
4 Be consistent
Welcoming them into the Church isn't a fad. We are all together, the people of God. This needs to be sustained and support may be needed for those who are still reticent to provide the support. Be there for the ups and downs, like we would do for every other person. It's worth it.
Note that I haven't mentioned LGBT Christians as a single term when I have looked at the separate titles here. The Church welcomes all, not just those who are keen to find a faith. Jesus went to be with the people, not just those who preferred to worship in the synagogue aka Church.
It's time to engage, to be radically different. The Church needs to be active in its discussions, and to welcome all. Let's leave you with a quote from Bishop of Rochester, Rev Gene Robinson which is used in the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in the New Hampshire ''Diocese as what the Church should provide:
“Infinite respect and radical hospitality.”
I have used the template obtained from this article from the Guardian about 'Brands which should walk the talk'.
Hey this is not aimed at bashing the Church.
I wanted it to be a wake up call to highlight that we still have a long way to go along the road to equality, acceptance and the Church to welcome all into its midst, unreservedly, unconditionally.
Many on Twitter saw its meaning and supported it. I hope the Church will also.
We believe that it is vital that parents can support their child, possibly more so if they identify as LGBT+. The trauma the child faces is immense and prolonged but, as a Parents Support Group, we wondered how the parents cope.
In Diverse Church they have run 2 'Twitter days' where first Mums and then Dads could tweet about their lives as they walked alongside their child. It has been seen as greatly encouraging to other parents as well as the young Diverse Church individuals.
[Really worth a look at both links]
For #Transgender individuals they also have the issue of personal pronouns: is it he, she, they or a gender-neutral pronoun? This is very important as it shows respect with their change. Remember that it may not be how they express themselves (how you see their gender) but how they feel inside which determines what pronoun they wish others to use. Here's a link to a guide but really, it's better to ask them for their personal preferred pronoun.
Always better to ask "What is your preferred personal pronoun?" #Respect
We've read 'Dazzling Darkness' by Rev Rachel Mann before but it has never been so real to us until recently.
The book tells the story of Rachel and this part in particular relates so closely to our story. The following quote from the book has encouraged us and reassured us that, as parents, love is the answer.
Please click on the picture of the book cover if you wish to look at the review or buy the book (other alternative book sellers are available and please always consider buying locally).
Can there be a time for leaving the child, the child that you raised?
There's an emphatic No resounding from here but for many LGBT+ individuals, especially transgender, this is not always so.
We recommend have a read of this book and not lose hope if you are insulted and rejected; focus on the love that you have always had for your child. As it has been said a lot on social media since #SCOTUS...
It's been a great first 6 months. It has been wonderful to be able to help families who have been struggling with situations as they come to terms with their children who identify as LGB or T. We are also acutely aware that the struggles facing the parents is nothing compared to the trauma and dilemma facing the individuals themselves. There are few groups looking to support parents in this situation though: notably FFLAG, Diverse Church through its Parents groups, NewRoadParents but nothing that we could find within Lincolnshire. We so pleased that we have received support from these organisations as well as the LGBT Foundation in Manchester and the LGBT Centre in Leicester. Just Lincoln have been so supportive as has the NHS in all its forms.
This says one thing: there is support for parents out there. We are here to walk along side them on thie journey.
Our thoughts which capture some of the news and comments about LGBT issues