I had the opportunity to sit down with a local youth pastor today to talk about the fact that I love Jesus and am not heterosexual. We know one another from working side by side, teaching kids about Jesus, Moses and that we can trust God no matter what at a local Vacation Bible School this past summer.
At the time, this person did not know my sexuality, and truth be told, because I was employed by a Christian organization, I was not exactly waving my rainbow flag. Towards the end of my summer, while I was mopping the floor, we were discussing the need for LGBTQ youth to feel safe to come to youth group, spiritual leaders and teen camp. Queer youth feel like their mere existence is sin–one only needs to debrief suicidal teens to learn how bad this struggle really is getting.
Fact is, these youth are not welcome. Neither are adults who are not heteronormative. Neither are a lot of other people. If a person doesn’t behave first, they are barred from using their spiritual gifts, from getting to know Jesus, and from being integrated into a Christian community.
One of the things this youth worker said stuck with me. I was talking about how the Bible says that we are now under the New Covenant of Grace through Jesus Christ. In that grace, we are to obey the first commandment —loving God with our whole selves and the second follows, loving others as though their interests were our own. This is something the contemporary church is failing at in alarming ways.
What are the main pillars for someone to be counted under the Grace of Jesus? If we cannot add to the Gospel, then why must there be a checklist of what else is essential to be a Christian?
What if we don’t agree on which things are sin? What if we approach biblical interpretation as informed by culture rather than scripture informing culture or vice versa? We end up talking past each other and letting the broken hearted and lost and lonely die. It’s time to stop camping on the wrong mountains, and to start loving people in words and deeds before and regardless of whether or not they act the way we think they should.
It’s time to open the doors to whomever will come to the feast. The feast is for everyone who wants to know Jesus, not just everyone who looks good on a poster.