I love church. Church feels as much like home as my own kitchen. Sometimes it’s an absolute mess, but that usually means something fantastic is cooking! As a young man who believed in Jesus and who was gay, I had two choices when it came to being a part of a church. I could either become not-gay (or by default stay hidden in a closet of shame and secrecy) or not go to church. Within the past few decades, LGBTQ people of faith have found a third option in open and affirming churches and I’m thankful. These 3 options have also played out when allies, friends, and family of LGBTQ people find themselves veering toward affirmation and inclusion.
Today, I find myself wondering if there is more. What if we as the Church, the body of Christ, his bride, could lovingly, thoughtfully, and graciously wrestle through these important realities together? What if LGBTQ people and our friends, family, and/or allies could “come out” authentically within the community of believers we call our local church? What if the desire for conversation, relationship, love, and the gospel trumped fear, accusation, whispering, and division? What if we chose to live in the tension for the sake of relationship and the gospel?
I don’t go to a perfect church, but it is my church. It’s a place where I have exposed my weaknesses, wept openly, argued passionately, used profanity in heated small meetings with other leaders, been loved through the worst of times, and supported when we didn’t know where or when the next paycheck would come. At our church we’ve been prayed for, cared for, and loved deeply. In turn, we’ve given to, prayed for, cared for, and loved others. We believe there is no more important truth to understand than to know how much our good Father loves us, to fully receive that love, and from there love him and others to the best of our ability.
This video is my most recent message at my church and shares much of the struggle I mentioned. My hope is that it conveys how burdensome such tension can be—but how worth it living in the tension within ones community is.
I love both my church and the greater Church and I have tremendous hope that, as the Church, we are becoming all we were created to be. I love that my church is choosing love, relationship, and conversation for the sake of the Gospel and people. That’s real life. That’s maturity. That’s grace.