We’re at a cultural moment in the American Church where we have staunchly conservative Christians at loggerheads with an adolescent Gay Christian movement. And that conflict extends to conservative criticism of the way in which the subset of self-described celibate gay Christians (who hold to traditional biblical sexual ethics) are even allowed to express themselves and have a cultural conversation.
How did we get here?
Much of the driving force behind the dynamics and conversation being where they are now on this subject and phenomenon is the sad history of callousness and a fearful and presumptive “project management” approach (if not outright hatred) on the part of the conservative church.
Real individuals—sons and daughters of the Faith who’ve been baptized and raised to love Jesus—did and still do enter their adolescence and discover things about themselves in a church climate that signals to them in no uncertain terms they’re the very embodiment of shame and had better keep silent.
The conservative church has fostered a climate that tells its own children they have more solidarity with those who bear the weight of their particular sexuality than they do with those who bear the weight of the same confession of faith and way of life set apart from this present world.
The conservative church has offered a new life hidden in the closet, empty promises of conversion therapy amounting to a prosperity gospel of sexual transformation, and has failed to create a vision for a plausible life of obedience on a long rough road of uneven, incomplete, yet real sanctification.
The conservative church has failed to create a platform where this conversation could’ve happened under our own roof with our own participation as the whole body of believers with all members contributing. Instead, our children resort to conferences just to know they’re not alone.
The conservative church has failed to provide a climate that says, “You’re one of ours, and we won’t give up on providing you with all the encouragement, compassion, nurture, and admonition you need.” She’s failed to create an atmosphere where anyone would actually want to ask for help.
This isn’t the case everywhere in the conservative church. But it’s a pervasive reality. And I know from experience. There’s been great help to be had. And there’s been great neglect and injury as well. But by and large, it’s been a lot of us on our own figuring this stuff out for ourselves and teaching our helpers how to help us.
The conservative church is absolutely where I call home and want to be for a lot of good reasons. But she sure makes it hard to feel welcome sometimes.