Back in June of 2006 I was a student at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. I was drawn to experience the gay pride parade of San Francisco from the perspective of one who was no longer a lesbian. I also wanted to interact with the parade participants, to get a feel for what their thoughts were on some issues.
A good friend of mine at the time, Tanja Guerrero, went with me. I also made sure I told the dean of students of my plans to attend the parade and what my reasons for doing so actually were. This way if I should some how get on the news or was spotted by protestors I might know, they would not have the wrong idea.
Let me stop for a moment and say that I am not a big fan of the signs protestors hold up at the pride parades. Unless a person knows Scripture, they are not going to know what is meant with a sign which reads : Romans 1:26-27, Lev 18:20 . . . you get the picture. If a sign is used that reads: God Created Adam and Eve Not Adam and Steve, well that just appears hateful and mean. If I ever personally see a sign that reads “God Hates Fags” I promise you I will tear it out of the hands of the holder. I promise you! Yes, I will probally go to jail for inciting a riot. That is okay.
If you are to hold up any sign at a pride parade it should read: God LOVES You and I Do Too! This will certainly provide a loving response, and it may also get some much needed conversation. It will certainly make the gay and lesbian reader curious.
Okay, back to my main thought here!
Tanja and I went to the staging area of the parade where we, in prayer, asked God for some divine appointments. We were blessed to have six of them. Here is what I did with Tanja there for prayer support.
At God’s prompting we walked up to six different people over the course of an hour. We did a cold interview with one woman, one man, a male couple, and a female couple pushing a bicycle built for two which sported a cute sign on the front which read “Dykes on Bikes Rejects” Smile.
With my little Samsung digital DV camera in hand I asked each of the six these same three questions:
“What type of spirituality did you grow up with, if any? What type of spirituality, if any, do you now practice? If you could give a message to the Church, what would that message be?”
As I asked these questions and filmed their replies my heart broke as each of them shared their answers. I wanted to reach out to each of them and let them know how sorry I was for their experiences. The first person was a vendor, a young man from Ireland. He was not gay, he was brought up in the church and he still attends church. The second person was a woman close to my age who I believe volunteered with such social issues as feeding the homeless and clothing them, the third and fourth people were the lesbian couple, one had her PhD and her girlfriend was a dancer, and finally, a gay couple, one of whom would not be video taped. All of them had been involved with the Church growning up. Only the vendor still attended church. The others expressed how the Church had hurt them and though they believed in God they now identified with other spiritualites such a Paganism.
What was their message to the Church you might be asking?
Interesting enough what made me cry was that although none of them knew each other, these six divine appointments all seemed to have the same message. The lady who has her PhD said it best when she said:
If ever there was an organization who has hurt more people, its the Church, they need to be more like Jesus!
Time and time again I have heard those in the LGBTQ community state this and I am torn. Being a former lesbian I still have a hard time with it but mainly because that was not my experience with the Church. I was blessed to have a loving and healing experience with the Church as a whole. I am told my experience is unique. But I do not believe this to be so. The very fact that I experienced a church who was willing to accept me just as I was, a church who focused on telling me about Jesus and a church who did not focused on my personal sin, then one would think there are more experiences such as mine.
Either way, how do we, as the body of Christ Jesus, reach out to those who have felt pushed away by the Church. Usually when someone is hurt by the Church they want nothing to do with people who identify themselves as part of that organization.
I believe the answer is one on one relationships. Members of the Church need to reach out with the love of Jesus Christ to those in their lives who identify themselves as lesbian or gay. Invite them to lunch or for coffee. Maybe go shopping with them, or perhaps catch a game? Invite them over to your house for dinner or perhaps a barbeque. Eventually invite them to attend church with you and your family on a special day such as Easter or Christmas, or to a pagent put on by your church for such Holy Days.
Yes, there is always going to be that question asked of you by your lesbian or gay friend. “Do you think homosexuality is a sin?” Or, “do you think I am going to hell because I am a lesbian or because I am gay?”
How do you answer these questions? I will be back in a day or so with some answers that may help you answer them. Until then, if you would like to post your thoughts on how to lovingly answer these questions, please do so!
Also I will be posting the raw video of these cold interviews soon.