My heart is full today and I am thankful for all God is doing in the life of my family. This past Tuesday my daughter finished her classes at Spring Arbor University and will participate in graduation ceremonies this May. She packed up her dorm room and came home Wednesday evening. On Thursday, she received two calls from one of the seminaries to which she applied for graduate studies for next year. The first caller told her that Candler School of Theology (Emory University) had received her writing sample and that it was “flawless.” The second caller informed her that she is one of their top candidates and is being offered a spot in the next graduate class, tuition paid. They let her know that an additional stipend may be available for her living expenses—she just needs to apply for it.
But wait, I’m not done…
Today, she interviewed for a job in Jackson that will help her build a small nest egg before she begins her graduate studies. She was hired on the spot and begins next week.
After the experiences of this past school year at SAU and having watched the incidences of non-support of the lgbt students, it means so much to me to find a school that not only believes it is possible for an lgbt student to have a relationship with Christ, but to believe it enough that they will invest in that student’s future.
As I’ve been excited for this new happening in my daughter’s life, I’ve also been thinking about those who would say that a person who identifies as lgbt cannot be accepted by God or the church. My thought is this:
You may be able to keep an lgbt person out of the church, but you can’t keep them away from God if they desire to have a relationship with Him.
One of the scriptures that kept coming to my mind shortly after our daughter talked with us about her orientation was Romans 10:9-13. I’ve included it here with the part I’m referring to in bold. “…If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, ‘Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.’ For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’”
I cannot tell you how hard I clung to that last phrase while trying to wrap my head and heart around our new reality. I believed (and still believe) what I read, but I struggled with the thought that many other Christians will never accept my child as a fellow believer. I still have a hard time with that, but I realize that what others think is not my problem to solve.
I also realize that while being lgbt is a deal-breaker and a ‘sin’ to some Christians, other sins are easily overlooked. The same people who would say that the Bible stands against same-sex orientation often ignore that it condemns gossip, slander, greed, pride and many other things. But, the people who practice these things are welcomed and accepted in the church (and they should be). We encourage them to grow and to learn how to walk with God, and the church body stands by them to encourage them.
Why, then, for the Christians who believe a same-sex orientation is sin, do we not stand by our church children who come out to us? Why would we not encourage them to stay as close to Jesus as they possibly can, instead of telling them they can’t have Jesus? Why can we not tell them that God loves them and wants to walk with them as they navigate this now-understood reality in their life? And above all, why can we not accept their spirituality and trust God and the lgbt person to weed out anything HE thinks is sinful in their life? We give grace to others we think are participating in sinful practices. We say, “Oh, they’ll mature spiritually.” Or, “God will show them what He wants.” But we still accept them as fellow followers after Jesus—just followers who don’t have it all together yet. As if any of us DO have it together!
Please don’t hear me saying that I believe having a same-sex orientation is sin. I don’t. I believe that what following Jesus looks like for an lgbt Christian is for that Christian to work out with God. They should strive to live as Christ wants them to live, the same as I should strive to live as God wants me to live.
And as we strive as brothers and sisters in Christ to live for Him, we are invited to eat at the same table. And the table is big enough for us all. We just have to be willing to sit next to each other.