Pastors, potential donors, and friends often ask us, “I know you focus on equipping churches, but who do you hope will benefit from the work? Non-Christian LGBT+ people? Gay Christians? Future generations?” Our answer:
“All of them…but it’s complicated.”
Equip works for the sake of gay Christians who hold a historic sexual ethic (those that believe God invites everyone to celibacy or marriage with someone of the opposite sex; sometimes called Side B).
We want churches to support their convictions and their stewardship of those convictions—to be places where they can meet their intimacy needs in healthy ways, either by doing celibacy well or navigating a mixed-orientation marriage. They should be invited to share their stories and encouraged to find identity with, community among, and purpose in advocating for others who experience same-sex attraction. We yearn for the voices of side B gay Christian leaders to be valued and lifted up in their churches. We hope that our churches will be filled with people who can listen and provide spiritual direction to side B gay Christians.
Equip works for the sake of gay teens in the Church.
They need to hear that they are not alone, weird, or dirty. They need to hear that God wants them to live whole, happy lives of meaningful relationships with Him and others. They need to be assured that the Church is working to become a place where they don’t have to get married to live in intimate community AND where their straight peers approach questions of celibacy or marriage with the same moral weight. They need to hear that they don’t have to be straight to be valuable to God or their church.
Equip works for the sake of gay Christians who hold a revisionist sexual ethic (those who believe God blesses same-sex, monogamous marriages; sometimes called Side A).
We hope churches grow to invite LGBT+ people to share their stories without ultimatums. We want churches to be places where gay Christians are met with compassion and respect, recognizing the ways some Christians have actively or passively participated in the oppression of LGBT+ people. We desire for churches to learn to trust the Holy Spirit—seeking God shoulder to shoulder with LGBT+ Christians and patiently waiting for the Holy Spirit to reveal what is true in His time. While all people should be called to steward their sexuality in inconvenient but ultimately life-giving ways, the Church must provide LGBT+ Christians with community where they can meet their intimacy needs in satisfying, God-honoring ways.
Equip works for the sake of Christian parents of LGBT+ children.
We want parents to know how to love their children well: walking in patience and trust of the Holy Spirit, empathizing with their children, and offering compassion and respect. We wish that parents no longer feared their children being gay and could trust that the Church is a safe and supportive place. Parents should learn a healthy theology of intimacy and sexuality that they begin sharing with their children at a young age, instead of propagating unhealthy expectations of marriage and grandchildren.
Equip works for the sake of straight youth in the Church (and really all straight people).
We yearn for the Church to be a place where the sexual majority hears that all people are created for intimacy with God and others, recognizing that if we don’t meet our intimacy needs in healthy ways, our flesh will reach out for destructive, unsatisfying, low-hanging fruit. We desire for the Church to teach that all people are first called to a period of abstinent singleness to enjoy companionship in the Body of Christ and discern whether they are called to lifelong marriage or celibacy. The Church should teach that celibacy and marriage are equal, with different sets of challenges and benefits. And while many will be called to the vocation of lifelong marriage between one man and one woman for the purposes of enjoying intimacy with each other and raising children, we recognize that marriage is not the solution to our loneliness. We long for the Church to one day be a place where all children hear these things growing up, and believe them.
Equip works for the sake of LGBT+ people outside of the Church (and really all people who do not yet know Christ).
We hope the Church would start to reflect the Gospel that Christ offers: an invitation to meaningful relationship and transformative mission. We yearn for the Church to become a place where all people can find satisfying community in the Body of Christ—a place of belonging and intimacy that is life-giving. We want the Church to invite all people on a mission to transform Creation for our good and His glory.