I have been reading online about the responses to the Nashville Statement, a statement by the evangelical organization Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood that stands firmly against homosexuality and transgenderism as within the will and gifts of God.
And I’ll be honest – I have mixed feelings about the responses I am reading. I am glad that church leaders are speaking out against the statement. At the same time, as someone within the LGBTQ community, I find the statements in opposition rather alienating in themselves. The intent is certainly good and positive, yet the statements often read like “don’t worry, LGBTQ people, I love you, even if they don’t!” Nice sentiment, but I am not a stray puppy needing affirmation and love. It actually feels a bit patronizing.
The reality is, nothing will change without the majority joining voices with the LGBTQ community to change attitudes and speak for acceptance. It will take the larger community choosing to live inclusively and with love in spite of the signers of the Nashville Statement and others like them, in order for deep change to happen. So I do appreciate the effort and the sentiment, but we also need to be careful in how we offer support so that we don’t become patronizing, or objectify those very people we want to be allies with.
I don’t have the answer about how to do that. As one of the white majority I struggle with that very issue regarding racism. I know that being silent is not helpful – the church must speak out in opposition to those who seek to define others by what they consider sin or a defect. We must be the counter voice to hate and violence and objectification. But we can’t stop there. The church must also model a better way. I am proud to say we practice that at First Presbyterian – we don’t welcome LGBTQ people, or black people, or Hispanic people, or any category of people for that matter, we welcome individuals, who happen to be LBGTQ, or black, or Hispanic. We need every church to model that, and every Christian as well, or else the only voice and the only witness that the wider world hears and sees are statements like the Nashville Statement.
We (certainly the majority, but really all of us) need to be intentional about mixing with those “others” whom God loves and welcomes, until we don’t see them as “others”. When we get to know each other and the gift of God that is in each other, hearts and minds change, and we are together empowered to be a force for positive change in the world. You know, like being part of the Kingdom of God we pray for every week?
The bottom line is – I appreciate the voices in support, but even more, I appreciate the efforts made by the church and others to model a better, more holy way of living and relating. Maybe then we will be a part of the Kingdom of God taking over the world, and there will simply be no audience for things like the Nashville Statement.