A few common things that I have heard from various evangelicals after coming out as a lesbian:
"I love you, but I can't accept your lifestyle."
"I support you, despite the sinful lifestyle you choose to live."
"A sin is a sin in Gods' eyes."
"40-years of what I believe won't change based on your choice to be gay".
"Love the sinner, hate the sin."
On Tuesday, February 26th, the United Methodist Church, the second-largest Protestant denomination in America, voted against a proposal that would have let regional and local Methodist churches set their own LGBTQ-inclusive policies. This 449-374 vote upholds the ban on same-sex marriage and prevents LGBTQ clergy from serving in the church.
As someone who has as grown up in a religious household (shout out to my fellow Baptists) and also identifies as a lesbian, the result of this vote breaks my heart.
Before publicly coming out in 2017, I struggled with these two combating aspects of my identity. This community, that church, my family, these people I've grown up with telling me that who I am attracted to and who I love is a sinful, unacceptable way of living.
So, let's dive into discussing this issue from a theological perspective –
Many and most of the Christians that I know oppose the idea of same-sex marriage and LGBTQ+ relationships because of the Biblical framework that is laid out in the famous verses of Leviticus 18.
Leviticus 18:22: "You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination".
Others support their LGBTQ brothers and sisters and their identities only to paint them as a sinful "choice." As if you can choose who you are and are not attracted to like it's the Subway sandwich you're thinking about having for lunch.
In viewing same-sex relationships through a lens colored by these verses in Leviticus, it establishes gay people as having a set problem, being that they want to have sex with the wrong people.
This paints LGBTQ individuals as lustful, sexually driven beings. The religious sect of society hypersexualizes the LGBTQ community to justify what they believe is a gay person's sinful lifestyle. So, while straight people fall in love, get married, and start families, gay people only live for sex? No. You cannot choose who you are attracted to.
Everyone has a sexual orientation – and it isn't just about sex itself.
LGBTQ+ individuals have the exact same capacity and desire for romantic love as straight people do.
Heterosexual relationships are seen as a fundamentally good thing. Straight people are told to avoid things like pornography, lust, casual relationships, and premarital sex, but gay people are told to avoid romantic relationships altogether. I may be gay, but surprisingly I have been in love, I do want to get married, and I will have kids someday.
I am a lesbian, but I didn't choose to be this way. I didn't choose this way not because it is a bad thing; I can now say I am in a place where I am proud of who I am as a gay woman. However, it is challenging, stressful, and somewhat isolating to be different, to not feel understood, and to not be accepted by the people you love the most.
Bottom line: The United Methodist Church and many other churches (my own church home included) from different denominations prevent members of the church body from serving on the basis of who they love.
Hear me out.
Voting down this change, supporting and upholding a ban that prevents people from serving in ministries where they feel like God is calling them is the furthest thing away from living and loving like Jesus.
Love is love is love. In fact, the highest command in the Bible itself is to love.
1 Corinthians 13:13: "So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love." (Pro Tip: 1 Corinthians 13 is an entire chapter about the biblical way of love).
Jesus said it himself –
John 15:12: "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you."
What type of example are we setting if as a church body we denounce, target, and attack an entire community of people on the basis of who they love?
How are we loving and living in a Christ-like fashion is we demonize the love of our LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters as those who are trapped in a "sinful lifestyle"?
Regardless of denomination and church affiliation, I believe the church is stronger and more closely resembles the Kingdom of God when it includes everyone – including LGBTQ+ individuals.
Support your LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters in Christ. You can be an ally of the LGBTQ community and be Christian.
To those of you who struggle with accepting your sexual identity because of persistent discrimination from the religious sect: You are valid, you are loved, you are accepted, and God loves you no matter what.