This is the second post in a series in which I am attempting to help readers evaluate where their local church stands in fulfilling our Great Commission as it applies to those who are gay-identified or same-gender attracted and their loved ones.
In the first post, I focused on how the Church can reach out to the parents and other loved ones of the gay-identified. In this post I am focusing on what Christ followers who are same-gender attracted want and need to experience in the local church. Here is a list of five things, spoken of from the perspective of the same-gender attracted.
1. True compassion
First, let’s define that term, “true compassion:” The keen awareness of the hurt suffering or pain that is in another accompanied by the overwhelming desire to remove the source of that hurt, suffering or pain.
So then, what do they tell us about the need for compassion?
We do not want to hear or sense a false compassion. Do not water down The Living Word, and thereby strip the Power out of His ability to transform and to restore any person.
Hold high the banner of Jesus and His divine design and intent for sexual and relational holiness. Point us to the Holy Spirit, the Breath of God, Who is with and within followers to change our thinking, feelings, relationships, behaviors, spiritual condition, effects of the past and of the future! We want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings (Phil 3:10).
2. We are not ‘gay’.
The media persistently portrays gay-identified individuals as sensationalizing activists, and so this is how many people see anyone with a same-gender attraction. The truth is: ‘going gay’ is not the only option for persons with same-gender attraction. We are your brothers and sisters in Christ and we have a same-gender attraction—period! See us for more than our same-gender attraction. We are your average ‘Joe’ and ‘Jane.’ We are in need of relationship with members of the Body of Christ and a Sprit-empowered people to recognize and live out our true identity in Christ and to put off the old and broken identity of ‘gay.’
3. You belong here, and are welcome!
As believers and followers of Christ, we are a part of His Church, His Body. [We want to know that way in our local church. What about: We know that truth. We want to feel that truth being lived out in our local church.] We need you to recognize us a friends—brothers and sisters in Christ—with unique gifts and strengths needed by the Body. Yes, we have weaknesses and struggles. But don’t we all? We need each other’s encouragement in our journey of surrendering and Christ-likeness.
We do not want to hear or sense shame from the pulpit or the pews! We know the ‘Bad News’ (hell, sodomite, abomination). We had heard that A LOT. We need to hear that we are one in Christ’s Body. We need to hear clearly and consistently the transformation and restoration that Jesus provides for all who surrender to Him. We need a church “culture” in which jokes, sarcasm and the like regarding “gays” will not be tolerated. We don’t need to be singled out when talking about sinful people. Take about us like we are here ‘cause we are. When we fail in our pursuit of Him and His plan for our lives, we need for our Church family to pursue us in recovery.
5. You have value.
Our feelings of same-gender attraction do not prevent us from being a productive and functioning part of the Body of Christ. As much as we need the fellowship and accountability of the Church, we need to feel that others in the Body need us, too. Please do not disqualify us from relationship to the Church or service to Jesus through the Church because of our same gender attraction.
We love Jesus. We love you.