Christians, When Will We Stop Contorting Christianity to Defend Our Bigotry and Hypocrisy?
Happy Pride! Love is love.
Yes, I am writing this, and yes, I was baptized, raised and am a practicing Christian. But, let me be real — I struggle with the Christian church and its collective hypocrisy. I have and continue to wrestle with the institution of Christianity and the ways it has harmed and continues to without pause, remorse or reflection. Sometimes I see Christianity as the ultimate bully and envision Jesus in Heaven shaking his arms in disgust at how we have gotten so far from Christ’s teaching and how Jesus lived his life. I see Christ’s lived example so far from what Christianity has become. I squirm when I learn or hear Christian’s normalizing homonegativity, transphobia and any gender or sexual discrimination because of “God’s word” or their beliefs are “written in the Bible.” The doctrine, ritual and ideology of Christianity taking precedence over how Jesus himself lived his life. I recognize Christians have found ways to label lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual and other gender and sexual minority (LGBTQIA+) people as sinners. Christians, why do we feel so entitled to label and dehumanize for our own comfort, our own doctrine? What makes us believe we have the right under the vice of Christianity to deny the human rights of LGBTQIA+ persons — our friends, our colleagues and even our very own children?
LGBTQIA+ persons experience resistance at best and discrimination, harassment, violence and hate at worst. I grapple with how any self-described Christian can condone the dehumanization of any person. The God of all, God living in each one of us one moment and then the next moment we can so easily tout that transgender girls should be banned from sport, transgendered persons do not have a right to the health services they need or say things like, “hate the sin not the sinner” when one learns of one’s non-cisheterosexual identity.
I pray we will stop contorting our Christianity to dehumanize human souls — those we love deeply and those we have never met. We do not know the harm we have done, the tears we have caused and the hearts we have broken. The lives we have not supported fully. When children and LGBTQIA persons leave the church, the church has played a role in denying a home, refusing to be a safe place to respite in one’s full humanity, and neglected to be a protective factor from the harmful society outside the chapel. Minoritized sexual and gender identified persons are three times more likely to attempt suicide compared to their heterosexual peers, and those lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) youth whose families do not accept them are 8 times more likely to attempt suicide than LGB youth who are accepted by their families (SAVE, 2020). Christians, we must look at ourselves and the harm we cause when we deny persons their full humanity because of doctrine.
The reality that gender and sexually diverse persons are excluded, overlooked and/or forced to hide their true selves from showing up out of fear for their emotional, psychological and physical safety is not okay. The fact that the church is not a haven brings to shame the legacy of Christ’s life here on earth. LGBTQIA persons, people God created in Her image, are a vital part of our social worlds, our communities and our families. Homonegativism and transphobia lives in us; let’s start there and then acknowledge persons with varied gendered and sexual identities are in our presence all the time. We cannot continue to operate as if LGBTQIA persons are not in our world, our communities, our families and our faith. This is not only misleading but CIS heteronormative thought that is destructive to God’s humanity. Some of our children, our “church kids” may be grappling with their own sexual or gender identities and the “church family” may be teaching them to deny who they are or to make themselves invisible. Can we admit this is un-Christlike? Whether LGBTQIA persons are visible or not, it is vital we begin setting our table to welcome, embrace and honor all persons no matter their identities. Homonegativism, transphobia and all forms of hate and discrimination is unwelcoming, hurtful and not the way in which Jesus would have intended us to live. I have a deep understanding in my heart that this is true. It is time we realize that it is our bigotry that might keep another other human being from living in their full humanity, the unique person whom God designed them to be.
I envision a world where Christianity embraces sexual and gender diverse persons. A Christianity that begins or continues having brave conversations where every person is able to express themselves; a Christianity that begins to reconcile the harm rather than cover it up with sinking sand. What I know to be true is that Christianity could and should be a place to affirm every child and person believing each soul is made in the image of God and deserves to be embraced full-heartedly, unconditionally with overflowing love. The Christian church has a responsibility to not only support LGBTQIA persons but even more so to face the discrimination, stereotypes and harm Christianity and Christians have had a role in creating.
I pray we Christians will stop contorting Christianity to defend our bigotry and hypocrisy. Christ would want that from us this Pride Month. As my home church believes and states with pride, “Jesus was radically inclusive.” Christians, might we begin (or continue) this month of doing the inner work of being radically inclusive?