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By Bill White
Regardless of our theological persuasion or our sexual ethic, there are so many ways that Jesus is using the LGBTQ community to bring healing, growth, and, well, salvation, to the church. For those with eyes to see and ears to hear the creative ways Jesus is at work, now is the perfect time to pause, reflect, repent, and give thanks.
#1 We’ve had to face our judgment
In his book unChristian, David Kinnaman points out that, statistically speaking, the first three terms non-Christians use to describe Christians, in order, are 1) anti-homosexual, 2) judgmental, and 3) hypocritical. How devastating is that!?
Those last two are the very things that Jesus spent most of his time confronting. So the LGBTQ community has provided the opportunity for Jesus to speak to those of us in the heterosexual community in the same way he spoke to his followers 2,000 years ago.
Father, forgive us for our judgment and hypocrisy – for looking down on others while excusing ourselves. Thank you for the gift of the LGBTQ community in forcing us to face our own sin. Lord, have mercy on us, and grant the LGBTQ community the grace to forgive us and bear with us.
#2 We’ve had to face hard conversations that we previously avoided
We’ve stuck our heads in the sand, not addressing the emotionally dangerous, theologically nuanced, and socially awkward questions that our culture is talking about. We’ve given into fear, convinced that denial would work better than facing reality. The LGBTQ community has forced our churches to have this conversation, and this conversation is training us to have other conversations.
Father, forgive us for hiding from important conversations because of our discomfort. Thank you for the courage you’ve given the LGBTQ community, at real cost to themselves, to come out and to extend the invitation for your church to face reality.
#3 The LGBTQ community is driving the church to look more deeply at scripture
The majority/heterosexual community can no longer get away with easy answers and proof-texting. Just throwing out a reference to Leviticus or Romans was so easy, and so misguided – like throwing out a reference in Joshua to justify war. And not only do we have to be careful and thoughtful with scripture, we’re starting to have to become transparent in our theology of scripture. Now we’re having to show our cards on how we approach scripture whereas before, we didn’t have to do that.
Father, forgive us for being so shallow in our understanding of your word. Forgive us for using our unexamined interpretations to protect a status quo that favored us. Forgive us for using simplistic appeals to your word to harm others. Thank you for the gift of the LGBTQ community in driving your church more deeply into the scriptures.
#4 The LGBTQ community is helping us rediscover unity
Because there’s such diversity around these issues, the church is having to wrestle with unity again. Who is in and who is out? What are the qualifications for unity in the body of Christ? These are really important questions that the church is facing at a new level. While denominations are splitting, there’s also been a lot of movement towards a more sacramental unity as opposed to the ideological unity that currently presides over the evangelical world.
Father, forgive us for treating unity so lightly and for valuing our own ideologies so highly. Grant strength to the LGBTQ community as your church battles about unity over their bruised and bloodied souls. Save your church by ‘reconciling to yourself all things’ (Colossians 1:20).
#5 The LGBTQ community is helping us rediscover grace
The LGBTQ community is forcing the church to ask some crucial questions: How are people accepted into the community around Jesus? Do people have to become straight to be accepted? Is grace really enough? In new ways, we’re getting at core gospel truths because our assumptions are being exposed, and we’re seeing that we’ve layered a lot of culture on top of the gospel.
Father, thank you for reintroducing us to grace – it’s always better than it was the last time we knew it.