The LGBTQ and Church Disconnect

Abbotsford Pride Parade (PG) abbyprideparade

Abbotsford just held it’s first Pride parade for the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, Questioning) community this past Saturday.  In Winnipeg, the Little Flowers community, a group of Jesus followers near and dear to my heart are again apologizing at the Pride parade in Winnipeg this coming summer.  Yet, in the messy world of church relationships there is still significant disconnect between the LGBTQ community and the church.  It is a disconnect that is, frankly, dehumanizing!  The reality is, for anyone open about their sexuality willing to engage the church in any kind of conversation, there are some very real fears which the church will need to quench through a ‘ repentant, grounded in shalom’ hospitality.

The excerpt below, from Andrew Marin’s fantastic book, “Love as an Orientation: Elevating the Conversation with the Gay Community” is a must read (seriously, get your hands on it).

Believers are convinced they know what gays and lesbians think, but actually, GLBT people’s real thoughts and fears are totally different. This is exactly where the systemic disconnect begins. There are nine main concepts that both the secular and religious GLBT communities think and fear regarding conservative evangelical Christian churches and people.

1. How can I possibly relate to Christians in a church environment?

2. Will Christians always look at me as just gay?

3. Will I be able to be like everyone else in church activities and groups?

4. Do they think that homosexuality is a special sin? 5. Do they believe that I chose to be like this?

6. Do they think that I’m going to hit on them?

7. Do they think that I’m going to abuse their children?

8. Are they scared that I’m going to infect them with an STD or HIV/AIDS?

9. When will I be rejected and kicked out?

There is a striking belief in the inevitability that one, if not all, of these nine reactions will happen at some point if GLBT people were to involve themselves with Christendom.

Andrew Marin. Love Is an Orientation: Elevating the Conversation with the Gay Community (Kindle Locations 291-297). Kindle Edition.

How do you feel when you read these fears and concerns?  How could you offer a ‘grounded in shalom’ hospitality in light of these debilitating fears?

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20 comments

  1. AO Green · May 28, 2013

    Is this in regard to nonpracticing homosexuals or practicing homosexuals?

    • Chris Lenshyn · May 28, 2013

      Hey friend. I think in the book the author is referring to anyone from the LGBTQ community. These are the anxieties and fears that will be present.

      • AO Green · May 28, 2013

        Okay thanks, I did not understand what he was getting at. So once this connection is made does he want us to evangelize or just say come on in?

      • Chris Lenshyn · May 28, 2013

        It seems he is working towards ways to significantly improve the quality and functionality of conversations around this topic. Working through dehumanizing assumptions certainly does that.

  2. Robert Martin · May 28, 2013

    I think you’re on to something, Chris… because, you see, to REALLY relate to folks in the LGBTQ “demographic”, you actually have to hang out with them, commune with them, learn about them, talk to them… and too many within the church prefer to keep them at arms length… and so any one of those 9 things, inevitably, will happen.

    Jesus ate with tax collectors and drunkards. He talked to prostitutes, lepers, and the demon possessed. He related, he was there… the “church” is not. so, of course, since there is no relationship, those fears will remain.

    We need to hear their stories and listen to them. Only when we listen to their stories will we be able to find where God’s story of redemption and Kingdom intersects… and not until then.

    • Ryan Robinson · May 28, 2013

      The church often tries to keep them at arm’s length, at least. If you realize that somewhere between 2% and 10% of people are same-sex-attracted, pretty much every Christian does know somebody who is LGBT… they just might not realize it because that person is afraid to tell them.

  3. Ryan Robinson · May 28, 2013

    I haven’t read it yet myself but based on the reviews/summaries I highly recommend Torn by Justin Lee, as well. It is a powerful account of how he wrestled through his own homosexuality as a Christian and what the church can do to help (churches that accept acting on those desires and those that don’t).

  4. AO Green · May 28, 2013

    So my question gets ignored?

    • Robert Martin · May 28, 2013

      I don’t think Chris actually moderates his comments… so… he hasn’t replied yet probably because he hasn’t been online to do so yet. 🙂

      • AO Green · May 28, 2013

        I asked the first question…..

      • Robert Martin · May 28, 2013

        Yup… and that first question was addressed to Chris… so… until he answers… I can’t speak for him. 🙂

    • Chris Lenshyn · May 28, 2013

      Hey, sorry friend! I Just answered it. Didn’t have a chance to get online until now.

  5. Jordan · May 28, 2013

    I think there are a lot of Christians that are very scared that their theological walls will start to crumble if they actually got to know someone who doesn’t fit into that box.

    • Chris Lenshyn · May 28, 2013

      Yup. We see that in all sorts of different places!! I am sure you see that in the DTES all the time. Makes your work and presence there incredibly important!

  6. Nate · May 28, 2013

    I still struggle with all of those questions and I do not practice my struggles out. Will I be able to go to a men’s retreat? What does that look like? I know in the back of your mind they remember because of the awkward gay joke that is made and someone looks at me to see if I notice. No one forgets when you come out. I’m okay with that. Sometimes it is tough though.

    • Chris Lenshyn · May 28, 2013

      Hey friend! I deeply appreciate your vulnerability here! I don’t think people really have any idea how much assumptions and insensitivity, intentional or not, is hurtful!

      thanks again for this!

      • Nate · May 29, 2013

        Anytime Chris! 🙂

  7. Arlyn · May 30, 2013

    Thanks Chris for your strong recommendation. The Resource Centre – http://resources.mennonitechurch.ca has ordered a copy, and a copy of “Torn.”

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