A prominent church leader and retired university president, whose name would be immediately recognized by many if we used it here, found his view of homosexuality challenged when his twenty-year-old grandson came out as gay. He described it in this way:
I’ve always been pretty conservative on this issue. I recognize that the Bible doesn’t say a great deal about homosexuality, but what is there has always seemed to me to be prohibitive. But now I find myself with a grandson, who never wanted to be gay, who has concluded that it is part of who he is, part of how God made him.
I held that little boy in my arms thirty minutes after his birth, and he has spent at least a week in my home every year of his life. I’m starting to take a new look at what the Bible says about sexuality, and I’m paying more attention to the Genesis story of creation, the context of the relatively small number of prohibitions, and the strong teachings of Christ about love. I haven’t sorted it all out theologically, but I have to say this: A grandson trumps theology. You are looking at a new gay rights activist.” (From Widening the Welcome of Your Church by Fred Bernhard and Steve Clapp)
The way that most of us feel about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality depends on a number of factors. Certainly those of us who are members of congregations are influenced by clergy, the Scriptures, official denominational positions, and what others in the congregation think and believe. We are also strongly influenced by our relationships, by compassion, and by love.
Those, like the church leader just quoted, who have warm feelings for a friend or family member who comes out as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, may change the weight they give other factors.
Both of us work for an organization called Christian Community that focuses on practical research and resource development to improve the health of congregations. Much of that work focuses on improving the hospitality of churches to all people, including those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, ortransgender. In the months ahead we’ll use this blog to share some of our research and also practical strategies for helping congregations (and denominations) be more accepting of LGBT people and of others.
Nothing has greater positive impact on attitudes toward LGBT people than knowing and loving someone who self-identifies in one of those ways.
Courageous people who come out to others, like the grandson of the person just quoted, take risks in doing so but have tremendous positive impact on the attitudes and opinions of others. “A grandson trumps theology.” We extend our respect and appreciation to the courageous people who come out and by doing so pave the way for others to be part of a more truly loving church and society.