This is the eleventh installment in a series of reflections on LGBTQ+ matters.
In the 1980s, early in my involvement in the lives of persons with disabilities, I began to move beyond compassion and kindness, and way beyond pity, as primary responses to people who are often misjudged, labeled, and marginalized. My shift was prompted and amplified by the voices of Wolf Wolfensberger, Jean Vanier, and Henri Nouwen. (Read anything you can get your hands on by these men.) My shift, more specifically, was recognizing that the people I thought needed to be served were in fact serving me. I began to see mutuality and reciprocity where before I had seen only need and opportunity for doing good to someone else. Previously for me it was “us,” the so-called able-bodied, and “them,” those with impairments. Slowly I began the journey of discovering how profoundly we all are “us.” We are all imperfect, yet we all contribute and make the body better, more whole.
Something similar happens with responses of straight folk to those who are sometimes called “queer” or “gender dysphoric” or “morally suspect.” These lesbian/ gay/ bisexual/ transgender/ queer/ questioning sisters and brothers of ours are viewed by some as wounded, broken, and in need of healing. Some straight folk think that they owe believers who identify as LGBTQ+ straight talk about sin. Just as was said about people with disabilities, who many believed to be victims of the Fall, these gender minorities are seen by some as broken individuals who need healing. Some go so far as to fearfully claim that churches need to be protected from them.
People who are questioning their sexuality, or who live in bodies that don’t fit with their identity, or who are attracted to both genders, or who enter same-sex relationships want the same things as anyone else. They want opportunities to have intimacy with other humans, to pledge faithfulness to another, to support and be supported in long-term, committed unions. They want to feel as blessed in loving who they love as anyone else feels when they find a partner who fits. They want to love their Maker and enjoy worshipping God as much as anyone else who is in love with God. They want to serve the world and serve in their congregations with the same grateful response to being loved by God as any other Christian. Many model for the world the kind of love the Creator has for us.
When the church understands all this, there is no longer Us and Them. We are all Us.
From time to time a member of All One Body will post to this blog. We will also have guest commentary. Stay tuned!