In the weeks following being forced to choose between voicing support for my transgender child and leaving our church, I’ve been asked a few times why I’ve continued to attend non-affirming churches. I’ve supported the full inclusion and acceptance of LGBTQ people and relationships for some time now, but I have continually found myself in churches that are non-affirming. This seems strange to people – both those who are affirming and those who are not.
There are some simple reasons like knowing that some of the more progressive churches theologically tend to be places where an electric guitarist and synth player may have a tough time finding ways to use their musical gifts. There are family and friend ties to a number of churches that are not affirming that are difficult to sever. And there’s the simple fact that where I live, it’s not that easy to find affirming churches.
But beyond those more shallow reasons, I’d like to address some of the big reasons why I’ve stayed. Tomorrow I’ll share why I want my next church to be affirming.
I’ve stayed in non-affirming churches because:
- I want to be a visible source for those who are asking questions. There are a lot of people questioning what they have always been taught about the sinfulness of same-sex marriage. Simply by showing up week after week with the HRC sticker on our van lets people know that there is a different view out there and it’s okay to ask the questions. Even if it’s just to ask how I came to my view, I want to be available to those who are interested in exploring other views about this topic beyond what may be presented by the denomination or pastor of the church.
- I want to be a visible support for LGBTQ folks who are still in non-affirming churches. Almost every church has a gay kid or adult in attendance. Whether they are brought by parents, attending because of friends or family, because they like what the pastor has to say about other issues unrelated to the church’s view on LGBTQ people, or any number of other reasons, if you walk into a non-affirming church, there is probably someone who is a part of the LGBTQ community sitting nearby. I want people to know that they are accepted and loved just as they are by people in their congregation, no strings attached.
- I can draw comfort from the certainty of others. This one feels counterintuitive to me, but it’s still true. Certainty is not something that comes easy to me. I’m fine living in the tension of not-knowing most of the time. And while it is often infuriating to be around people who live with certainty, sometimes there is a comfort that can be taken from that. It reminds me that it’s okay to believe things passionately and to be vocal about them. As one who often struggles with sure footing, it can be good to be reminded that there are those who have found solid ground in the church.
- It’s easy to fall into a mind-set of “you’re with us or against us.” In this video by CGP Grey, he talks about how our emotions can be manipulated to believe things that are not true through anger, and that can be amplified when we associate primarily with people who are like us. I do believe there can be comfort found in finding like-minded people, it can easily become turn into a way to avoid recognizing the humanity of those who do not share our beliefs or world-view. In choosing to stay in non-affirming churches, I am reminded that we are all more than our views about whether or not gays should be allowed to marry.
Join me tomorrow when I explain why my next church will be an affirming one.
3 thoughts on “4 Reasons Why I Stayed in Non-Affirming Churches”
If you think people who are strongly attached to their beliefs will question you politely and with an open mind, you’re bound to be disappointed. Trust me, as one who left fundamentalism, my friends and family were not accepting or polite.
I can relate to this, albeit for different reasons. We attended a church for several months when we first moved because we knew the pastoring family via their extended family. We knew there were theological differences, but we craved a good community. We initially thought the church was still offering that to us, but as the months went by, it became clear that the pastor viewed our theological differences as something he needed to fix.
That said, we did make a good connection with some of the people there and were able to be a bit of a light for some who were finding that church to be a bit darker.
So, I recognize that hope that something good will come of staying in a church where there is disagreement on issues.
Where we are now, we know there are theological differences in some areas, but there is definitely affirmation in others. But the overall attitude of the church is about being authentic, being community (and not just within the membership of the church). Entirely different environment from the aforementioned one.