Church at the Margins

I’m attempting to work on a draft for a research paper where we are to “critique” a chapter from the book, Sexuality and the Sacred, which my Sexual Ethics prof hates, and I absolutely love. Trying to figure out how to word things in a way to be convincing enough that gay people can belong in the church while speaking “conservative Christian.” So, the chapter I picked was called “Church at the Margins.” Attempt on the intro paragraph is below…or what I have so far:

“Many of us grew up in the church and experienced it as a place of nurture, healing, and redemption—until we realized our gay identities. At that point we faced two primary choices: remain closeted and increasingly experience the world through a split existence, or come out and face hostility and expulsion from the church. Either path left us wounded and divided, with no community in which to integrate two fundamental parts of our identity, being gay and being Christian.”  Church at the Margins by Dan Spencer, from Sexuality and the Sacred, first edition

Is the Church requiring more of those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender in order to come to Christ and call themselves Christians than those who are not a part of the LGBT community?

First of course, this begs the question of what is required of a person to be considered a follower of Christ? What are the qualifications for one to consider themselves a Christian? Since when was it a requirement to affirm a certain set of beliefs about human sexuality or any other moral issue in the Bible in order to be a “true Christian?” Why is it that the issue of whether or not someone thinks gay people can be Christians and still be gay a dis-qualifier for being accepted in the church or being accepted by Jesus as a child of God whom he died for?

A more specific question to ask at this point would be whether or not it is necessary to have the same traditional interpretation of human sexuality to be a part of the body of Christ. For centuries, the church has been divided over many points of doctrine. Most would probably agree that there are certain core doctrines everyone must agree on to be Christian such as believing Jesus was and is the Son of God and also man, or that Jesus is the only means of atoning for the sins of mankind and therefore, the only way of salvation. Even on those points, people differ and can still be considered Christian but maybe not in certain circles. It depends on who one asks about these issues as to whether or not they can be Christian or not.

The word gay in many ways strikes a nerve with conservative evangelical Christians with the focus being on who a gay person prefers to have sex with instead of the fact that a gay person is also a person created in the image of God and is more than their sexual attractions or even their sexual actions. Some would say that being gay (or same-sex attracted) is a part of a person that they cannot change any more than someone who is straight can change the fact that they are attracted to people of the opposite sex. It seems to be innate and about more than sexual behaviors.

These are questions that are plaguing the Church right now and have been for quite some time. Many theologians and Christian leaders have been divided over this with some saying one cannot be gay and Christian or cannot be affirming of gay people and be Christian, and others saying gay people can in fact, be Christians and still be gay, asserting that they cannot change their sexual orientation. It is the view of the writer that while people can be gay, they can be Christian, and being gay is but one part of that person not the whole of them. In fact, there are those in the church who consider themselves LGBT who came to Christ before realizing they might not be heterosexual.

They perhaps have realized they cannot change this part of themselves and continue to be fully committed Christians who love God and seek to follow Christ’s teachings. Or, they came into the church as they were, gay or lesbian, or bisexual, and then came to Christ. What then, for those people? Are they then less of a Christian for meeting the requirements of being a Christian like their straight counterparts simply because their attractions are different? Are they then to be exiled from the church because of six verses in Scripture that have been traditionally interpreted in such a way to say that church is not for you, Christ is not for you since you are not attracted to the right type of person?

This is a basic contradiction—between our faith that God is a God of love and compassion and our experience of hatred and contempt from the church and society—has caused us to cry out ‘How long, God?’ Why do we experience so much pain suffering, confusion, hatred, and how long until we are simply accepted and loved for who we are? Why is the very community that names you central to its faith the one that drives us away? Where do we go and what do we do to experience your love?” – Dan Spencer

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