It was Sunday. I could smell the spam and eggs in the kitchen, my mom and dad were laughing over a cup of coffee, and I could hear Nicole C. Mullen’s “You’re the music of my heart” on repeat in the living room. I woke up with a huge smile on my face, it was Sunday! Sunday was my favorite day of the week. After a morning of breakfast and getting ready off we went, one big happy family ready for a day of church. Church is an all day event when you’re the child of a children’s pastor; an event that I loved. I loved the church. Loved.
Unfortunately saying the words “I love the church” isn’t an easy thing for me to do now days. Just the other day a friend asked me, “Jordon, how are things going with the church?”. I paused. I mean, I get this question a lot. Usually I have some profound thing to say, but for just a second I kind of stumbled over my words. I love Jesus and things in regards to my relationship with God are going great, but the church… it’s hard. I go to church, but I am not sure if I really belong, I am welcomed, but not really accepted, a congregant, but not really a member. I mean if it were Facebook my relationship with the church would be open and complicated; unfortunately, I don’t think that’s what either of us really want.
Queer Christians all over the world feel this way. I’ve met several queer folks who have just given up on it all together, and I don’t blame them, I often think about giving up too. It gets old, hearing that we can’t serve or fully be engaged in the church because of our lifestyle. Why is that hard? Because our lifestyle isn’t any different from the hetero peers that we sit next to and do life with. It’s not easy to get told you can’t go on a mission trip, but if you really want to serve, you can clean the vans that are used and return them to the rental facility. Because God forbid we let a queer person serve in a super visible way, then our members would know, and question our convictions. Here’s the deal, your convictions are between you and God, and not for anyone else to question. We should all be working out our faith, with fear and trembling, discerning how God want’s us to live (Philippians 2:12). Queer members of the church aren’t second class citizens, and honestly we have a lot to offer.
When it comes to me serving in ministry, so often the question comes down to: “What do you believe about same sex sex?”. Is that really what’s important? Church, I understand that you, with all your hetero privilege, have read some books, said some prayers, and come to a conclusion about this stuff. You should also understand, that for a queer Christians it’s just not that easy. The conclusions we make surrounding theology about same sex sex and marriage, are a much bigger deal to us. So asking me “what I believe about same sex sex” is extremely personal, invasive, and even pressuring. So many queer Christians simply don’t really know and are trying to figure it out.
The questions should really be “Does the fruit of this person’s life, reflect the fruit of the spirit? Is this person loving God and loving people with all that they have? Is this person’s allegiance to Christ and Christ alone?”. These are the essentials.
The homosexuality topic is huge in the church right now. As churches write and rewrite statements about LGBT+ involvement, service, and membership in their church communities, I pray for wisdom. Making a fully inclusive move as a church is critical. That doesn’t mean that everyone has to have the same exact theology regarding homosexuality, but it does mean that everyone has to have an equal opportunity to serve and be involved in church life. Queer congregants and lay members should be given space to exercise their gifts within the church. Let us sing, guest preach, give announcements, run small groups, volunteer for kids church. We want a church family too. This might make people uncomfortable, but if you choose something less than this, the church will continue to make queer folks feel unloved. When I look at Jesus’ ministry, he often made people uncomfortable, and never made people feel unloved.
Church, if your statement of exclusion rings louder than your statement of love, then your words are empty, and you will always be limited to the amount of people you can reach. I dream of one day having a family. I would love for my child to wake up with a smile on their face every Sunday morning, hearing their dad’s laughing over a cup of coffee, and excited to go to church. Until that day, I press on – relentlessly.
Peace and blessings,