Resources: LGBTQIA+ Affirming Christianity

You might have seen my post last year about growing up as a queer Christian. (It’s here.) Since I published that post, I’ve received so much positive support, both online and in real life. I was a little unsure that it was something I should be talking about in public, so I wanted to thank everyone who responded.

But I also don’t think it’s enough. It seems a week can’t go by without a Christian writing a piece on why they don’t feel God supports LGBTQIA+ people – or often, more crudely, gay sex.

While we’re here, why is it that there’s such an obsession in the Christian community with gay sex? Why is it that singular aspect that Christians often reduce the LGBTQIA+ community down to? It’s dismissive of the truth and love of gay relationships, and it erases the diverse experiences of so many queer Christians who feel not only excluded, but completely ignored.

ANYWAY. I am a digress.

I wanted to put together a list of LGBTQIA+ positive resources, so that I have easy access to the books and articles that explain the Biblical and faith justifications of my views when confronted with people who know the Bible much better than me, and the online communities that support queer Christians. In time, I hope to become much more familiar with the verses which affirm my and others’ orientations as being a valid part of God’s creation, and which affirm that we are truly loved and treasured by Him.

Because we are, there’s no doubt about that. “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” LOUDER FOR THE PEOPLE IN THE BACK.

My hope is that others will find these resources helpful as well. Particularly those who haven’t come across the Biblical basis for this view before, and struggle to talk to other Christians who can only spout the traditional ‘clobber passages’ rather than engaging in any meaningful discussion.

  1. Firstly, here are two essays from the Gay Christian Network, one by Justin Lee, their executive director, who believes that God blesses same-sex marriages, and the opposing stance by GCN member Ron. Both are good to read whatever your opinion, as it’s important to understand, I think, that this is a debate with enough substance on both sides to run for a good while yet! The Gay Christian Network is also a decent resource generally, and living proof that there are plenty of LGBTQIA+ Christians actively involved in church, and we aren’t going anywhere.
  2. My favourite book on this is called The Good Book: Reading the Bible with Mind and Heart by Peter J. Gomes. This is probably the most holistic of all the resources I’ve encountered so far – it covers every significant prejudice that the Bible has ‘supported’ throughout its history, examines the sociological reasons behind them, and then dedicates a chapter to the Christian attitude to homosexuality, calling it ‘the last prejudice’. It’s an amazing resource for historical and sociological context, as well as personal revelation, but it does have a tendency to quote Biblical verses without referencing the source!
  3. I’ve recently discovered a great essay on kindle called The Children are Free: Reexamining the Biblical Evidence on Same-sex Relationships by Rev. Jeff Miner and John Tyler Connoley. This is a proper examination of the Biblical evidence, dealing first but briefly with the ‘clobber passages’ (Sodom and Gomorrah, those bits in Leviticus and Paul’s letters), before moving on to the parts of the Bible which actively support LGBTQIA+ people, using in-depth Biblical scholarship from several sources to back up their claims. It’s fairly short essay which makes it quite easy to digest, especially if you’re somehow not a big fan of the idea of reading academic essays in your free time!
  4. Our Bible App launches in June 2017, and believes that at its core, the holy text was written to be inclusive of all of God’s creation, especially those on the margins. Our Bible App is bringing it back to the roots, celebrating the diversity of God’s creation with devotionals highlighting the inclusiveness of the text. Our goal is to untangle the binds that Christian colonizers have spread across the globe over hundreds of years. It includes devotionals highlighting pro-LGBT, pro-women and encouraging interfaith inclusivity.
  5. Asexual Christian on tumblr is a really lovely thing to scroll through, full of affirmations and Biblical quotes.

Online communities:

  1. Gaychurch.org have a bunch of awesome resources, which include another run at the ‘clobber passages’. The best thing that they offer is a directory of 7,569 churches around the world who are ‘gay-affirming’. There’s an important distinction here. Many churches are scared enough of their declining and ageing congregations that they won’t actively work against their LGBTQIA+ members, but there’s no guarantee that they’ll actually welcome you into the building. They will, if they mention it at all, use the phrase ‘gay-accepting’ to describe themselves. ‘Gay-affirming’ on the other hand means that the church has had a discussion, usually among their members, and decided that they want to be a community which actively and positively welcomes LGBTQIA+ people to join them. Gaychurch.org’s directory, and their list of welcoming denominations, is a good place to start when looking for a church which will embrace you into their family in the way that God intends that they should.
  2. Queer Theology provides a supportive community and in-depth resources for queer Christians and straight supporters. They have a bunch of resources, including an inclusive church checklist and a podcast. And they also have an online community with discussions and a book club! So, seems like a really cool thing to be a part of. Their twitter is here.
  3. Diverse Church is a supportive community of over 600 LGBT+ Christians in UK and Ireland. They aim to be a pastoral/mission resource for the wider church so that LGBT+ people do not give up on God or life. They also have a confidential facebook community for LGBT Christians in the UK and Ireland – email: ChristianItGetsBetter@gmail.com. This seems a great option if you’re not in a position to come out publicly and online, but want to connect with people in a similar position.

Organisations:

  1. Two:23 is a network of Christians in the UK connected by LGBT+ issues. They hold five key meetings a year in a central London location on a Saturday afternoon. These involve some prayer and worship as well as a talk, and of course creating lots of opportunities for people to connect with new people, as well as catching up with old friends.
  2. Faithfully LGBT provides a platform for LGBT people of faith to make their voices heard. We travel around the nation taking photos, collecting stories and sharing them online to put a face to the diversity of experiences for those living at the intersection of faith and sexuality.
  3. OneBodyOneFaith encourages fellowship, friendship and support among individual lesbian and gay Christians, helps the whole Church re-examine its understanding of human sexuality and works for positive acceptance of lesbian and gay relationships. The language they use on their website, if I’m honest, seems a little behind the times, but they do maintain lists of inclusive churches and online communities for support.
  4. Inclusive Church drives for a church which does not discriminate on any level – economic power, gender, mental health, physical ability, race or sexuality. Their resources include study guides, liturgies and books, as well as a list of inclusive churches in the UK, Australia, Brazil, Belgium, Latvia, the Isle of Man, Canada, the US and New Zealand.

I really hope that you’ve found this list helpful. There’s some really cool resources on this list, and I’m so happy to have found them. I’m very aware that a lot of these are very recently founded or compiled, and it’s a good sign that the church is – slowly – improving in its attitude to inclusivity.

So to end, here are some affirming Bible quotes, because it’s always good to have one in mind. I might get a tattoo for the Galatians one.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your worlds are wonderful, I know that full well.” – Psalm 139:13-14

“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” – Galatians 3:28

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” – Ephesians 2:10

“The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” – 1 Samuel 16:7

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:38-39

If you have anything you’d like to add to this, please do link it in the comments!

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