My response to the Intervarsity purge of gay marriage supporters
A few weeks ago my mentor and I were talking about a new poll that said 54% of evangelicals in America are supportive of gay marriage. Part of me didn’t believe it because as a gay person involved in the church it doesn’t always feel that way. But part of me felt hopeful because maybe we were finally starting to make some headway. That hope didn’t last too long, and reality sank in, when one of the largest college Christian fellowships in the nation (Intervarsity) released a statement asking all the leaders within their organizations that supported gay marriage to resign.
Last Thursday I was finishing up at work and getting ready for volleyball when I read the article. My stomach was twisting, and my eyes were watering as I reverted back to the little boy at the alter at the age of 15, wanting so badly to be like my hetero peers. My mind started racing as I began to think of all the young queers I’ve met during my time doing ministry in Davis, and all the wonderful LGBT+ college age individuals I’ve met online through the Gay Christian Network. Surely being a queer person involved in this fellowship was already difficult, I imagine now it feels impossible.
While young heterosexual Christians in this organization get the privilege of wrestling with scripture, and living in a community where they can voice opinions, doubts, and ask questions freely; queer Christians in this organization have been slapped with a big fat “YOU’RE WRONG. THERE IS ONLY ONE WAY. AND IF YOU DON’T AGREE, LEAVE”.
Maybe that seems harsh. But I think it’s important that the intervarsity staff knows exactly what this statement feels like for us. Intervarsity, an organization lead by leaders coming from a range of different denominations, backgrounds, and life experiences who likely disagree and have diverse opinions on many theological topics has decided: “We can disagree on a lot, we can discuss and discern about many things as a community, but when it comes to human sexuality, we will unite.” By putting an end to this conversation at the leadership level, intervarsity is undoubtedly putting an end to this conversation in the pew; thus making all its queer students and their allies uncomfortable, and/or unwelcome. If you don’t think that’s true, you’re kidding yourself.
To my beloved young queer adults on campuses across the nation – stay bold, be relentless in the pursuit of righteousness, justice, and love. Press deeply into conversation, stay humble, and lean into God and your queer community. Be the change in the church that you want to see, because God has called you. Realize that there is good. I will be the first to admit at times I lose hope and want to give up. Changing the beast from the inside of its stomach is a daunting task, and indigestion is no joke, but push through. Every one doesn’t have to agree, but we should be able to love each other, and serve together.
To the intervarsity staff and the church as a whole – when it comes to the topic of human sexuality and the church, you have an opportunity to build bridges. Bridges constructed with grace, love, vulnerability, and compassion. Bridges that lead people into the all-enveloping, everlasting, life changing presence of a God who is so glorious. This past week intervarsity did exactly the opposite of that. This past week intervarsity was just another example of the church building a wall. A wall that divides the “righteous” and the “sinner”, the hetero and the homo. A wall comprised of evangelical heteronormative misunderstanding and mixed together with queer pain, fear, and distrust. A wall purchased with the currency of LGBT tears, sorrow, depression, suicide, and heartache. The church has too often been caught up in business of building this wall, and the gays are paying for it. My prayer is that intervarsity, and the church as a whole, will commit to being bridge builders with the LGBT+ community. I pray that we can cling onto enough hope to see it happen.
Peace and Blessings,