Last week I had the privilege to share some of my life’s story at a gathering in Iowa for Christians who wanted to learn how to more effectively connect with and dignify queer people. I was on a panel with one of my favorite authors, and we were interviewed by my absolute favorite podcast host. Needless to say I was über nervous going into it! That is, especially because I wasn’t sure if my voice condition (spasmodic dysphonia) would interfere. Thankfully, everything went smoothly and the crowd gave fantastic feedback on that part of the event.
As any statistics you look at will make abundantly clear, the Church historically hasn’t been a super hospitable environment to people who don’t conform to heterosexual norms. Over the last year or so, that reality came a bit closer to home for me. It increasingly seemed to me that a lot of Christians I knew were disinterested in developing a more open-hearted, missional approach to relating with queer persons. To be at this conference though in the middle of rural America… filled with hundreds of believers who were sacrificing time and finances to try and rethink how they navigate these relationships… it was such a breath of fresh air.
Many of the people in the room were over the age of 60, leading and participating in very conservative evangelical churches. When they spoke with me it was clear they had truly tender, humble hearts. It gave me a boost of hope for the Church to be surrounded by hundreds of individuals who were actively and intentionally learning to embrace Christ’s own posture toward those who have been misunderstood.
The next day when I returned to St. Louis I went to a prayer meeting. In the meeting one of the men present received a phone call from his wife that he decided to answer. She was calling to tell him about a dream she’d just had that morning. In the dream, God spoke to her and said that a significant part of the Body of Christ is hidden within the gay community – carrying gifts of joy and freedom that the rest of us really need. And, the Lord added, “they have a greater revelation of their true identity than a lot of other believers actually do.”
Needless to say, the whole week was a great reminder that there really are people with “eyes to see” and “ears to hear” the Father’s own perspective over His children. Despite our slowness to respond, He is committed to – one way or another – helping us rightly recognize, esteem and care for one another.
May we too be committed to His reconciliatory work, for the long haul.
Shoutout to the Center for Faith, Sexuality & Gender for all you do for the Kingdom!