I am the father of a gay son. I currently go to a church that is open and affirming.
After being there a number of years, I’ve decided to look elsewhere for spiritual sustenance. I think the problems I have with my original church are mostly of my making, but they revolve around a lack of a feeling of fellowship.
A good friend of mine asked me to visit what could be considered a sub-mega church in the area. This church has multiple locations in a relatively small area.
I was a bit concerned about if the church would be accepting of my son. I decided to call the church and asked about their acceptance of members of the LGBT community. This was the first sign of trouble. Rather than answering straight, like any member of my current church would do, I was transferred to one of the Pastors. I received an answer that the church accepts all people and that they even had some gay attendees. I said that I would attend the church, even though when I said it, wasn’t entirely satisfied with the Pastor’s answer.
It was a Wednesday night service, and I was surprised. This church had a full parking lot, attendants, greeters, child care. It looked like a Sunday service at a “regular” church.
The band was good. The music was focused on praise. It wasn’t challenging intellectually (or musically), but it promoted positive good feelings about Jesus. The congregation enjoyed it, and I was clapping and singing along as well.
It was time for the sermon. The Pastor did a very nice, well-structured sermon on the first-half of Ephesians 5. I took copious notes and realized how the message was pertinent to some of the things that I struggle with. I also noticed that he didn’t tread into the last part of E5, which is often misinterpreted by many Christians. (I honestly don’t know if he’ll follow up in a future sermon on that section.)
One more song and the service was over. I was then introduced to one of the Pastors by my friend, (Not the Pastor that I spoke with on the phone). It was then that I asked this question (the question every parent of an LGBTQ child should be asking), “My son is gay, would he be allowed to get married in your church?” The answer from this pastor was a firm no, that it was not “biblically acceptable”. However, I was told, all were welcome in the church to worship.
On my way out, I did meet the Pastor I spoke to on the phone. I asked him the same question. The answer was softer, more thought out, but the end result was still the same. “We, as a church, are wrestling with this, and I would welcome to continue a conversation with you and your son about it.”
I left that church feeling dejected. It really hurt that what seemed like a place of love, caring, and acceptance would not allow my son to participate in the sacrament of marriage. The good message was spoiled by the reality of the non-acceptance of my son.
I was fooled by being invited to what could be called a “Church in Name Only”. A (Christian) church can only be a church to me if they fully accept that God’s love is for everyone. The Living Jesus that I know and have experienced in my life wouldn’t discriminate on a relationship based on sexual orientation. God created the person and the sexual orientation of that person is part of who they are.
I’m studied in the Bible, and could easily point out the areas of the book which are used to view homosexuality as a sin. I could also point out how theologians provide counterpoints to those areas. The actual Truth is much simpler, and goes beyond the pages of the Bible, to a living Jesus and a living Holy Spirit.
The God witnessed in the New Testament is a God of Love. He asks only for His love and asks that through each other, we spread His love, by being loving and accepting to each other. He is for love and inclusiveness, and against hate and separation. Loving relationships are something to be celebrated, and not excluded.
If you are against any loving, thoughtful, and joyous relationship, then you are not in step with the living Christ.
I hope that this new “church” lives up to the true challenge of following Christ, and becomes a true church.