According to Buzzfeed News, a group of conservative and former Christians have come together to offer an apology to LGBTQ people who’ve been harmed by churches.
Equal Voices aims to confront the failures of Christians to respond to LGBTQ people justly and “be reconciled with one another in the Body of Christ”. An apology is a top priority.
The apology covers the following points:
- For being too slow to acknowledge that we need to say sorry to you.
- For not speaking up
- Speaking about you, without listening to you.
- Not creating safe environments within our churches where people can speak openly and honestly about their struggles and understandings
- Perpetuating stereotypes, and for not taking full account of your actual lived experiences
- For talking to you or about you in a way as to suggest that sexual and/ or gender differences are not a part of your true identity as creatures made in the image of God, but are simply a result of brokenness or sin.
- Churches have told LGBTQ+ people that they can change their orientation/ gender identity.
- For not acknowledging that Christians who are seeking to be faithful to their Lord and to the Scriptures are coming to different conclusions on matters of gender, sexual orientation and marriage
One member has committed to:
- Honour and support LGBTQ people in any way possible
- Be open to gentle correction and guidance
- Hold others to account for harmful words or actions
- Resist efforts to “other” or exclude LGBTQ people
- Engage in genuine conversation to gain perspectives of LGBTQ people
In March, Equal Voices will post a letter to their website that people can sign.
These points, especially number six, are huge. Finally, LGBTQ Christians will feel safe, regardless of whether they attend a progressive or Evangelical church.
What’s the next step?
While this is a great step forward, I wonder what it’ll mean for Christians politically. Many Evangelical churches have closely aligned themselves with conservative political parties and lobby groups, including the Australian Christian Lobby. Recently, Activate Church in Adelaide separated themselves from Australian Christian Churches (formerly Assemblies of God) to fully support the LGBTQ community. The pastor of Hillsong Church, Brian Houston has come under fire for not allowing openly LGBTQ people to serve in the Church.
I don’t think anyone should expect all conservative Christians to jump on this. No doubt, the ones that have raised their voices do so knowing that they’ll pay a great price. Many Evangelical, and former Evangelical Christians, such as America’s Rob Bell, have paid greatly when coming out in support of the LGBTQ+ community. So this is no small feat!
I think this is so positive. Soon, LGBTQ people will be able to worship, rest and be a part of a church community without their identity being a barrier. Finally, people in church will be able to enter, knowing that they don’t have to hide. They won’t have to sit through a sermon feeling like they don’t belong, that, despite their belief and their heart for God, that they are not enough.
I believe that this will clean up Christianity’s reputation a bit. The Church may finally be seen as a beacon of hope, rather han harm. So, for those involved in the EqualVoices movement, good on you for having the courage to speak up.