LGBTQ+ people Welcome or not welcome in a Church

We do hear lots of strange messsages from the United States.

As the nation’s culture changes in diverse ways, one of the most significant shifts is the declining reputation of Christianity, especially among young Americans. A study by The Barna Group conducted among 16- to 29-year-olds in 2007 showed that a new generation is more skeptical of and resistant to Christianity than were people of the same age just a decade ago.

The image we have here in Europe of Christian communities is one of very critical and negative believers towards those who think differently and non-believers. Also the Barna results gave already in 2007 that common negative perceptions included that present-day Christianity is judgmental (87%), hypocritical (85%), old-fashioned (78%), and too involved in politics (75%) – representing large proportions of young outsiders who attach these negative labels to Christians. The most common favourable perceptions were that Christianity teaches the same basic ideas as other religions (82%), has good values and principles (76%), is friendly (71%), and is a faith they respect (55%).

What we often hear about ‘the Church’ is that she would be old-fashioned and out of touch with reality. In 2007 the most common perception in the U.S. was that present-day Christianity is “anti-homosexual.” Overall, 91% of young non-Christians and 80% of young churchgoers say this phrase describes Christianity, and in Europe that was also the picture we got from the American churches. By the years that seemed not to improve. Even worse, several groups started protesting more against people of the same sex getting together and coming out in the public.

Several Americans also seem to have the idea that Christians oppose homosexuality. They believe that Christians show excessive contempt and unloving attitudes towards gays and lesbians.

These daysDan Foster Dan Foster is assured by many of his church-going friends that Christian churches are much more accepting of members of the LGBTQ community.

“Trust me,”

they say.

“Everyone is welcome at my church.”

Apparently, a lot has changed since Barna released the findings of this research. Or has it?

When we look at pictures from the U.S.A. and see some churches along the road, we often see huge signboards welcoming everybody. Dan Foster has questions by those signs and writes:

While it is not unusual to see the words “ALL WELCOME” emblazoned across church signs, I began to wonder if a church would really welcome a same-sex couple into their fold?

Sure, they might let them through the doors and be friendly to their faces — maybe — but would they allow a gay couple to participate fully in the life of the church? Would they be allowed to serve in ministry? Would they be invited to attend a marriage course? Would they be able to volunteer to teach Sunday School classes to children?

That is a lot of questions, which we believe would receive many negative answers in many churches, certainly when we hear many ‘damning’ sermons.

Foster wanted to find out how welcoming a Christian church would be if a same-sex couple walked through the door for a Sunday service.

Being unqualified to complete this research without help, I first sought the assistance of some friends of mine who are in a same-sex relationship. I asked them if they might be willing to do some spiritual reconnaissance and rock up to a church service one Sunday, arm-in-arm, in the name of research.

However, we can imagine that because of the conservative climate in the United States, not many candidates would come forward.

They seemed very interested by the concept but understandably unwilling to put themselves in a position where they might be judged or humiliated by any of the god-fearing folk who presume they have been appointed by God to police everyone else’s behavior.

Foster devised an alternative plan with the blessings of same-sex friends and created a fake email account for a fake person — a guy name Jared Davis.

Fictional Jared is a gay man who is married to fictional Joel — also a gay man. It just so happens that this young couple have recently arrived in town and are looking for a new church to call their spiritual home.

Knowing that it can sometimes be awkward for same-sex couples to just turn up to a church service, Jared does the prudent thing and sends an initial inquiry to a few churches in the area to get a sense of how he and Joel might be received. So he hops online and starts filling out those inquiry forms that you can find on most church websites these days.

Foster decided to send this email — for Jared and Joel — to around 25 different churches and chose a selection of Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, Anglican, Lutheran, Catholic, Churches of Christ, and Uniting Churches, along with a number of different Pentecostal and independent Churches.

Would anyone really welcome a same-sex couple into their fold?

He decided to allow churches four weeks to get back to him, after his initial inquiry, before reporting his findings he thought this was both reasonable and generous.

He did discover:

Of the 25 churches that received the email inquiry, only eight honored Jared and Joel with a response. The other 17 lacked the common decency even to bother replying.

 

To test the theory of some friends that the churches generally are fairly slack at replying to messages and maybe they simply hadn’t gotten around to answering yet, he emailed the 17 churches that ignored Jared and Joel.

Within three days, more than half of the 17 churches that ignored gay Jared and Joel had replied to heterosexual Steve. In fact, no less than ten of the 17 churches had rolled out the welcome mat for Steve and his family. Some of them responded to Steve’s email within minutes!

Dan Foster remarked

I suppose these Christians glossed over the part of the Bible that expressly forbids partiality — that is, favoritism. I am reminded of James 2:1–4:

My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

Sure, this scripture is talking explicitly about not favoring the rich over the poor, but the principle applies to all. We ought not to favor one over the other. In fact, that is an actual sin. I can’t even begin to tell you how appalled I am that so many churches would ignore same-sex couples and acknowledge heterosexual ones. Both should be acknowledged equally.

For sure, in many of those American churches we can find favouritism for certain believers, but also find a not welcoming attitude to people of another faithgroup and even worse, a certain attitude of hate against people with a not so common attitude or gender. Noticable is that larger churches are less likely to welcome LGBTQ+ people. Their way of living does not fit in with the way of life which is expected by those churches.

None of the Pentecostals, Catholics, Methodists, or Lutherans could muster up a response, and typically, the larger a church was, the less likely they were to reply.

What we also can note is that in certain churches those same-sex partners could be welcome to sit passively in church but would not be allowed to serve, lead, or being involved in ministry. Notable of the replies the pastors of those churches that replied was:

Basically, if you’re gay and you want to be involved in the church, then your only option is subject yourself to life-long singleness and celibacy.

Please read more about it in Dan Foster’s article: Would a Same-Sex Couple Really be Welcome in a Church?

Neland Avenue Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Photo courtesy of Otto Selles
Neland Avenue Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Photo courtesy of Otto Selles

And you may find it also interesting to read Esther Spurrill-Jones article What if God Says LGBTQ+ Rights? where she talks about the story of Neland Avenue Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids. When the denomination ordered them to remove a deacon because she was married to another woman, Neland’s council spent some time in prayer and discussion, then respectfully said no.

The community agrees that they wrestled with the Word, and discerned the Spirit together, they prayed and found that their conscience told them that they would be both disobedient to God’s call, and less than fully loving to all His children if they ‘immediately rescinded’ their decision to ordain that deacon.

The Grand Rapids, Michigan, Christian Reformed congregation decided to appeal to rescind the ordination of a deacon in a same-sex marriage. The deacon, a woman who has asked to remain unnamed out of fears for her safety, was ordained in 2020.

In June the denomination’s annual synod, which had not met in the interim due to the COVID-19 pandemic, ordered Neland Avenue to reverse its vote.

The synod’s move comes amid a growing backlash to LGBTQ gains across the nation and ongoing divisions among theologically conservative denominations over sexuality.

“If they decide to cut us off, that’s up to them. We can’t control that piece,” says Neland Avenue’s co-pastor, Joel DeMoor. This brings to mind Acts 5:29: “We ought to obey God rather than men.” {What if God Says LGBTQ+ Rights? – Is God Still Giving New Revelations Today?}

A group of people hold a giant rainbow flag flat.

Esther Spurrill-Jones considers herself a disciple of Christ and notices that the voices around her, about people their nature, are growing ever louder. From the one side, it’s

“You can’t be LGBTQ+ and a Christian! Pride is a sin!”

From the other side, it’s

“Why would you want to associate yourself with a group that has caused so much pain and suffering? Christians are evil.”

She writes:

More and more ex-evangelicals (exvangelicals) are dropping the “Christian” label altogether. They don’t want to be associated with a group that has fostered so much hatred and negativity. Honestly, I don’t blame them. But I’m still a Christian. {Yes, I Am Still a Christian – I am a disciple of Christ}

What is important, naturally, is to know in which way one or the other is hearing the Voice of God?

Question is there, who can rightly say he or she hears the Voice of God? The pastors at the synod would also say they prayed to God, the same as the local church did.

Some may say it  is “founded in Scripture” that gay people may not live with each other and certainly not do any acts of love with each other, whilst others would say it is written in Scripture we may not exclude any person from God’s Word, neither from the Church of Christ. Lots of people would say ordaining a gay deacon is not right, because it “contradicts God’s Word.”

Spurrill-Jones wonders

cannot Holy Spirit give new revelation today? Can we not reinterpret our understanding of Scripture as Peter did to allow for this?

Is there another great sheet (or perhaps, a giant rainbow flag) even now descending from heaven toward the church, full of everyone we still view as unclean? Do you hear the voice of God saying, “What God has cleansed you must not call common”?

“Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” (Acts 10:47)

In the meantime, I applaud Neland Avenue church for their decision. It is not easy to take such a stand, but I agree with them that it is the right thing to do. {What if God Says LGBTQ+ Rights? – Is God Still Giving New Revelations Today?}

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Preceding

  1. Division and defrocking because of same-sex wedding
  2. Hiding or opening attitude for same sex relationships
  3. Same sex relationships and Open attitude mirroring Jesus
  4. Pelagianism, abundant sex, no works and refugees
  5. Christians close to falling below 50pc in England
  6. Right-wing fundamentalist Christians to dictate the U.S.A.
  7. Presbyterians and Reformed Christians, membership and active involvement is part of a congregation’s DNA
  8. A Synod to speak freely and to listen without reservations
  9. 72 Synod Fathers on the topic “The vocation and mission of the family in the Church and the contemporary world”
  10. The Catholic synod on the family and abortion
  11. Helping against or causing more homophobia
  12. Living and Loving Faithfully

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Additional reading

  1. The Most Hated Family in America
  2. Liberal and evangelical Christians 

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Related

  1. Pastor Art Kohl Equates Homosexuality with Bestiality, Incest, Rape, and Pedophilia
  2. Jim Veitch, Pastor of Bible Truth Baptist Church, Rails Against the Boy Scouts and Homosexuality
  3. What Evangelical Christianity Taught Me About Homosexuality
  4. Christians Say the Darnedest Things: God Killed Everyone With a Flood Because of Homosexuality
  5. Bruce, What was Your View on Homosexuality When You Were a Pastor?
  6. 1987: Homosexuality, AIDS, and a Fundamentalist Baptist Crusader Named Bruce
  7. Christians Say the Darnedest Things: John Piper Says Homosexuality Disgusts Him
  8. Devotion by Hannah Kent
  9. How Conservative Christians Burden Me
  10. How Affirming Christians Burden Me
  11. Repurposing My Angst with the Church
  12. Cast Out of the Church for Being Gay
  13. Jesus on Happiness
  14. Jesus loves Gay People too
  15. Love Your Neighbour! How?
  16. You Are Accepted Just as You Are
  17. Matthew 19:12 – Sex!

 

Published by Guestspeaker

A joint effort of several authors who do find that nobody can keep standing at the side and that “Everyone" must care about what is going on in today’s world. We are a bunch of people who do not mind that somebody has a totally different idea but is willing to share the ideas with others and to be Active and willing to let others understand how "today’s decisions will influence the future”. Therefore we would love to see many others to "Act today".

2 thoughts on “LGBTQ+ people Welcome or not welcome in a Church

  1. Those who say ” Going to church does not make you a Christian.” are very right. Also those who think because they consider themselves Christian, that they can do whatever they want because they would be saved for ever, are not right. As the apostle James clearly said, Faith without works is dead.

    In the world we find a lot of name Christians, those who do not really follow the teachings of Christ and even do not have the same God as Christ, because they have made Jesus into their god and often worship also other gods and saints.

    Several people who consider themselves Christian, but exclude others, because they are not Trinitarians (like they are) are or do not belong to their denomination, even dare to go so far to exclude people who do not fit their idea of what a man or woman should be.

    In their short-sightedness, they do not want to accept that nature is not always so straightforward and that there are people who are ambivalent or who are in an external body that is not in proportion to their inner feelings. Furthermore, they do not want to pay attention to people who do have intense feelings of love and solidarity with fellow human beings of their own sex. By excluding all such people, one can ask the question to what extent they carry the love of Christ Jesus and want to be open to others, as Jesus was open to others?

    Like

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