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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”