Yesterday I shared why I have stayed in non-affirming churches even though I have been affirming for quite a while. There is still a part of me that doesn’t want bullying behavior to “win,” and I want to continue to be a person who works from the inside of the organization to help bring change. But after being asked to leave our most recent church specifically over this issue, I want to attend an affirming church when the time comes to be a part of a church body again. Today I want to share some of those reasons with you.
- I want at least one part of my theology to line up with my church. There is something exhausting about constantly feeling on the outside of what my church teaches. It is wearing to hear archaic-sounding phrases like “homosexual lifestyle” still being said in a Sunday sermon. To hear people talked about as issues. To have people assume that I agree simply because I attend. I know that I will never agree 100% with any church, if only because as soon as I involve people who aren’t me, there will probably be some disagreement on some small thing, but as the mom of a transgender child, this doesn’t feel very small any more and I want to celebrate my faith with people who accept my child as he is, without conditions.
- I never want to have to choose between my family and my church family again. Being forced to make a decision between supporting my child and continuing to attend church was absolutely heart-wrenching. And as much as I’d like to think that it was an isolated incident, I know that it’s not. I have met others with stories just like mine and it saddens me to know that it could happen again. Attending church with a sense of fear and mistrust is not conducive to a healthy relationship, but I don’t know if I could regularly attend a non-affirming church again without those being present. Certainly there could be relationships within the congregation that are free of those negatives, but I think it would be almost impossible to feel like a full member of a congregation agin, knowing that at any moment I could be asked to leave because I fully support my flesh and blood family.
- I don’t want to support organizations that actively work against the LGBTQ community. I recognize that I may not know where every dollar that I spend goes. I am certain that I have unwittingly supporting things that I disagree with or that are harmful. I try to be an informed consumer, but I recognize that sometimes I make choices that can be harmful. However, if I actively participate in an organization that opposes the LGBTQ community, I am offering tacit support of that. I don’t want to do that any more.
- I want the LGBTQ community and my child specifically to feel like their safety matters to me. There is a great episode of The Ligturgists Podcast entitled Safe Church where Betsy Ouellette shares about what it means to be a part of a safe congregation. And while “safe” is a somewhat loaded word because it means different things to different people, a church that does not believe that a person can be gay or transgender and a Christian is not safe for that gay or transgender person. And if I continue to support churches that preach a message of non-acceptance to the LGBTQ community, I may convey the message that their spiritual, emotional, and physical health is not important to me. I never want my friends or my child to feel that, even in the most round-about way. By attending an open and affirming church, I hope to confirm for them that their safety matters.
I still love the Church and hope to again be a part of a community of believers. However this time, I want to be able to worship beside my LGBTQ friends and family. I want to be able to worship God without fear, without shame, without conditions.