Saturday, January 2, 2016

Queer Christmas Day Nine

Oh come all ye faithful . . . 

Queer Christians have to vet this invitation. Queer Christians have to poke around websites, search for key words plus pastor's names. Queer Christians know that "all ye faithful" may not include them. It's useful and important to know what church leadership has said about LGBT issues before setting foot inside a church's door.

Spiritual abuse is real and queer Christians are intimately familiar with it.

So, if you are a gay, lesbian, bi, or trans Christian, this may or may not mean you are active in a religious community. I've been very lucky, I've always lived places, since coming out, where I could have Christian fellowship despite being gay. This is a luxury not afforded to all queer Christians (or to all Christians, really, but I'm speaking in the context of the the United States).

And yet, you can do web searches for queer Christians of every stripe and find organizations, however small, that seek to draw together and give solace to LGBT Christians of that stripe. Orthodox to Evangelical and every kind in between, there is a Christian group for your type of Christian.

At least on the internet.

Isn't it a wonder that there are any queer Christians at all? We may take comfort and strength when Paul says at the end of the eighth chapter of Romans, "I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." But can we take that to the local congregation and be fully welcomed in full knowledge of our queerness?

I am curious about what assurances get LGBT Christians through their doubts when we hear from the dominant voices of religion how wicked we are.

In my novella, Cary and John, the story of David and Jonathan plays a part in one man's coming to terms with the fact that he loves another man. For me, personally, it never worked fully but I've heard enough references from other gay Christian men that I know David and Jonathan give some queer Christians peace and it made sense in my novella to use it that way there.

For me, it was Acts, chapter 10, the follow-up to Peter's vision of "unclean food." It wasn't the vision that convinced me, but the way the Spirit prompted Peter to apply it. When Peter met a Gentile who exhibited great faith in Christ, Peter applied the words he heard in the vision: "‘What God has made clean, you must not call profane." It was not circumcision or any other purification act that made the Gentile clean, it was his faith.

I'm sure there are other stories that have given queer Christians assurance and peace. I've also seen queer Christians who have, to an extent, understood that their queerness is innate and unchangeable but still have periods of crushing doubt about their relationship with God.

In the end, the voice calling "come all ye faithful" is not the voice of any church authority, though when it is, it's nice to hear. Ultimately, we need to hear the Holy Spirit calling us, "joyful and triumphant." I can't predict when or how the Spirit will get through to you. I can pray this blog post might do it, or at least erode, just a little bit, the wall that keeps you from hearing.

Beloved child of God, queer or not, in a congregation or not, your faith has made you clean. Do not believe any other voice.

O come all ye faithful means YOU.

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