Before we attempt to provide a solution, it’s helpful to clearly understand the problem.
1,359 hate crimes were committed against sexual minorities in 2014—that’s almost four hate crimes a day. LGBT+ youth are four times more likely than their straight peers to commit suicide. 73% of sexual minorities feel like evangelical churches are unfriendly toward people like them. Estimated between 4 and 5 percent of the population, LGBT+ persons make up 30,000 of the 600,000 people in Nashville, TN.
Gay teens are still kicked out of their homes when they share their story with their parents. Sexual minorities still have to hide who they are and live in fear of being bullied. Gay teens still have to endure names like “fag” and much worse, and their classmates still use the word “gay” interchangeably for weird, stupid, and wrong.
The queer community is hurting, yet they feel unwelcome in the one place all people are supposed to find love, support, and belonging: the Church.
Jesus doesn’t see sexual minorities as the problem. He sees their pain and injustice as the problem. He sees the pharisaical practices of many churches today as the problem—practices that keep the “other” at arms length, protected by pressures to hide our brokenness. In many churches you will still hear sermons about gay people going to Hell or that same-sex attraction is a choice. This only creates more fear and shame in sexual minorities and pushes them farther away from Christ. How do we expect people to get to know Jesus if they are afraid of stepping foot in His house?
We can become the Church where sexual minorities are offered a place to belong, reasonable options, and an accurate, compassionate theology, and we don’t have to discard the bible or engage in theological gymnastics to do so.