Discover more from honestly
When love outnumbers fear
I know, I know, posting here has been sporadic at best, but I’m on sabbatical. Anyway…
Earlier this week, I went to a program on LGBTQ+ language—what the letters mean, how pronouns work, and so on—presented by a speaker from Free Mom Hugs at a local library.
Unsurprisingly, there were some people who were there to participate in bad faith, and they asked questions about what pronouns furries use, the medical risks of loose anal sphincter muscles, and so on. And I will say that the library could have been better prepared by setting the ground rules and the parameters of the conversation early and by asking people to leave when they violated those rules. And the speaker could have been better prepared by simply being better prepared.
That said, as much as there were people set on disrupting the presentation, there were many more who were there who were focused on learning from the speaker and supporting LGBTQ+ in the community.
And I want to note two things about that.
The first thing is that the community library was hosting this presentation and people from the community were there.
The church that I serve is an Open and Affirming congregation of the United Church of Christ in a small town in Iowa. Our larger community doesn’t always feel like it is open or affirming. It’s easy to think that we are one of just a few voices—maybe even the only voice—that supports LGBTQ+ people in our community. And I know that there are some people in the congregation who worry about whether people in the larger community think of us as ‘the gay church’ and what that means for us.
So it was heartening to see the library put on a program that was aimed understanding the LGBTQ+ community a little bit better and doing the bare minimum to be supportive of people in that community. And it was heartening to see so many people there who were engaging in good faith.
It may have been a very small thing—knowing what the letters mean and learning to respect people’s pronouns isn’t quite revolutionary—but a step forward is a step forward.
And if the library—and at least some people in the larger community—are willing to take those small steps forward, then we can continue to take steps forward, too.
The second thing is that there were a lot of religious people there to support the LGBTQ+ community.
Yes, the people who were there to disrupt the conversation let the room know that they were Christian and that they believed the Bible. And there is so much that we could unpack there that I am not going to unpack here.
But, I know that there were two pastors from the United Church of Christ, one from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, one from the Episcopal Church, and one from the Metropolitan Community Church. I also know that there was a rabbi. And, of course, there were members of all of those traditions and more. And all of those people were there to support the library, the speaker, and the LGBTQ+ community. Many of them even spoke up to counter the folks who were there to disrupt the conversation.
And that matters. Speaking from a Christian perspective, there are a lot of LGBTQ+ people and allies who believe that there is no place in the church for them. And they believe that because the congregations of the church have told them—have shown them—that there is no place in the church for them.
And, of course, I believe that means that they are missing out on something. But I also believes that means that the church—the very body of Christ—is missing out on something: the church is impoverished by its own practices of exclusion.
So it is important that people hear the gospel as it is presented by the inclusive church. And that means that it is important for the inclusive church to show up and present the gospel.
A quick aside:
I want to be clear that this doesn’t mean that LGBTQ+ folks or their allies will start coming to the church, or join any religious tradition, even if it is inclusive. Nor do I expect them to. The church has done a lot of damage. There is a lot of trauma there. And simply preaching an inclusive gospel is not going to repair that.
But it might be an early step in the church’s work of repenting for its exclusion and repairing the relationships that it has damaged. And that’s a good thing.
So, I am grateful for the library and the presenter for hosting this event. I am grateful for all of the community members who showed up in good faith. And I am grateful for all of the religious folks who showed up to support the event and the community
Showing up is important work. Sometimes, it is even hard work. But it the first step in making change happen.