The church on a journey

Globally and for some decades, the church has been grappling with the issue of homosexuality, welcoming LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) people into congregations, understanding their relationships and their place in the church. Some however are just beginning the journey.

Recent surveys reflect a shift, not only in attitude towards, but also in understanding of same-sex-oriented people in mainline, evangelical and pentecostal congregations. The world is changing and so is the church.

Evangelical author Andrew Marin said in his groundbreaking book, Love is an Orientation,

'Every stereotype can be broken with a face, and every face has a story. Even leaders in both the LGBT and Christian communities say they know something needs to change – but nothing is changing because we’ve all been conditioned to dig in and fight. So where do we go from here?’

Pastor Brian Houston, former president of the Australian Christian Churches and senior pastor of Hillsong, said in his 2008 statement, Issues of Sexuality & Sexual Expression,

‘This (issue of sexuality) is a global challenge that most of the world’s churches are grappling with, and we, like them, are trying to balance theology with compassion. We do not profess to have all the answers, nor has the church worldwide always got it right, and we, like them, are trying to balance theology with compassion’.

Preconceived ideas, misinformation and judgement have contributed to polarisation instead of resolution. Wrongs have occurred on both sides of the debate. The extreme views and actions of some, who feel they have the right to speak on behalf of Christianity, have brought disrepute to the church of Jesus Christ.

Until fairly recently the words ‘gay’ and ‘Christian’ were seen as contradictory. The Gay Christian movement was birthed in a lounge room in Los Angeles in 1968 and functioned for some time mostly outside the boundaries of traditional Christianity. Through web-based ministries there are now 10,000’s of Gay Christians who have reconciled their faith and their sexuality and many straight Christians who have shifted in attitude and understanding. The number of mainstream churches and denominations who welcome and affirm LGBT people is growing exponentially and over the last three decades expanded to over 90 different denominations across 46 countries. Some have called this the Rainbow Revival and it is not unlike the Jesus Revolution of the 60’s; a movement of the Holy Spirit outside the walls of Church.

LGBTI people’s journey

Over the last five decades untold suffering and harm has been caused by churches lack of knowledge about sexuality. Lives have literally been lost because of ignorance and the unrealistic ‘change is possible’ message that was believed and preached.

LGBT people have often had a difficult journey. They have to come to a place of acceptance of their sexuality or gender identity, come out and learn what it means to live authentically in a predominately straight world. If they come from a religious background, this additional layer means they often experience these things with greater intensity and also have additional issues to deal with.

The impacts of faith/sexuality conflict

When an LGBT person of faith is a part of an accepting and affirming church community the above impacts are greatly reduced and many become non-existent.

ABBI helps churches create safe spaces for existing gay and lesbian church members and an understanding and welcoming environment for others.

My morality and faith are choices. My sexual orientation however isn't.