The Church’s Sin Against the LGBTQ Community

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There’s a story Jesus tells, known as the Parable of the Talents. A wealthy man leaves his property in the hands of three servants to care for. Before departing, he gives each of them a certain amount of money (known as a talent). After a long time away, the man returns to discover that two of his servants have invested the money well, generating even more in his absence. They are greatly rewarded for their efforts, with shares of the property. The third servant, believing he had been wise, had buried his talent in the ground. When he presents it to his employer, the wealthy man is furious at the servant’s wastefulness. He takes the money from him and angrily sends him away.

The heart of the parable, is to use what you have been given by God well; not to squander your blessings or waste your time here. We church leaders teach the heck out of this when we’re looking or Nursery volunteers or we have a building campaign or when we want to get people fired up to evangelize—but it’s tough medicine to take for ourselves.

Seeing organized Christianity’s treatment of the LGBTQ community, it’s clear that we have been the foolish third servant—and we should repent of our reckless wastefulness.

Whether it’s championing anti-LGBTQ legislation, spearheading department store boycotts, aligning ourselves with hateful partisan politicians, rallying around incendiary celebrity preachers, campaigning against same-sex marriage, engaging in denomination-splitting battles, or daily using our pulpits and podcasts to beat the same dead homophobic horse, the result is the same—we bury our blessings in the ground. We waste our talents.

People (whether they identify as LGBTQ or not) are not coming to know Jesus through any of these things. They are rejecting them, condemning them, and using them to justify walking away from a religion they long suspected was fraudulent anyway. The Church isn’t shrinking in these days because people are turning from Jesus, but because they are turning from an institution that they can rightly see no longer represents him.

We have three resources in this life: time, creative energy, and money. We are given in this life, the opportunity to steward these things well, to cultivate them, to multiply them, to use them for goodness. They are finite, precious reserves we are entrusted with to reflect the character of Christ in the world. When I look at how much of these resources the Church has expended silencing, vilifying, eliminating, and persecuting the LGBTQ community, I am certain we are squandering them all and that we are flat-out failing our calling.

Seeing the massive investment Christians have made in recent years trying to keep LGBTQ people from marrying, from using the bathroom, from participating in the life of the Church, from ministering—or from simply living, I can’t help but wonder what far more redemptive things we might have accomplished here:

How many hungry people could have been fed?
How many people trapped in homelessness could have been released?
How many dilapidated inner city neighborhoods could have been cleaned up?
How many ministries to the poor and hurting could have been birthed, staffed, and funded?
How much racial reconciliation might have been engineered?
How many families and marriages could have been repaired?
How many suicides could have been prevented?

This is the sickening waste that the Church will have to account for.
It is the irresponsible frittering away of time that we each will have to personally answer God for.
It is the shared sin that we as the Church have to own, and decide whether or not we want to continue participating in.

I am praying that we will stop grossly misusing our talents to do things that bring God no glory, that do nothing to reflect Jesus, and that actively keep people from the abundant life he promised.

Church, stop wasting daylight. Stop burying your great wealth.

While you still can—pull your blessings from the ground.  

36 thoughts on “The Church’s Sin Against the LGBTQ Community

  1. Thanks, John – an interesting perspective that could perhaps be applied to many of the people we see fit to ignore or reject for whatever reason.

    Meanwhile, being from South Africa I’d like you guys to know that we have now officially been declared a Sink of Iniquity and a Stronghold of Satan by one Pastor Steven Anderson.

    http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/sa-human-rights-commission-happy-with-barring-of-anti-gay-pastor-20160913

    I’m so happy that you’ll be keeping this charming fellow on your side of the Atlantic!

    • His photograph looks like a police mugshot. I say that because in that photograph he has the same blank-faced, empty-souled, black-eyed stare I have seen on numerous mugshots of other people charged with—you name it. My money says he ditches Jesus and ends up in prison before retirement age—and would not be surprised to learn that he is another “young punk” in trouble with the law that “found Jesus” and somehow became a pastor. Guys like this feed my cynicism about fundie pastors. All this guy is doing is feeding his “young punk” tendencies into hating, judging, and executing LGBTQ people in the name of Jesus.

      • Charles, can’t find biographical info only this

        Border Patrol checkpoint incident
        Anderson made national news following a confrontation with United States Border Patrol agents at an interior checkpoint on Interstate 8, about 70 miles east of Yuma, Arizona. A police dog gave an alert on sniffing Anderson’s car, and Anderson refused to move his car or roll down his windows, triggering a 90-minute standoff and the calling of Arizona Department of Public Safety officers to the scene. The confrontation ended when authorities broke Anderson’s car windows and forced him to the ground; Anderson asserts that authorities beat him and shocked him repeatedly with a Taser while he was lying prone on the ground.[13]

        At his arraignment in April 2009, Anderson pleaded not guilty to two misdemeanor counts of resisting a lawful order. He was acquitted by a jury of the two charges in August 2010.[14]

        https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Faithful_Word_Baptist_Church

  2. Brilliant, absolutely brilliant! This reminds us that there are wonderful messages from many sources that people simply don’t get or understand.

    I might add, the good that could happen is even greater when “responsible Christians” understand this in the light of marginalized and repressed people who just want to be who they were born to be and in turn become highyl productive and artists in their own right but are kept from that through people who call themselves followers of Christ.

  3. As a gay man struggling to remain in the church your words offer hope and blessing. I have walked away so many times, but my heart and faith are Christian. My prayer is that more Christians speak the truth you have spoken. I remain, because I have hope that Christ’s love will work through all of us to bring reconciliation.

    • Dan, you remaining is helpful, and I know its not easy. Hugs to you friend, from a Mama Bear. I appreciate you being exactly who God made you to be and being in a faith community, as your authentic self. You’re creating ways fro reconciliation that wouldn’t be there otherwise. Much love to you.

    • Dear Dan,

      We need people like you to show us how to love. One of my most enduring role models is Louie Clay, nee Crew, the founder and first president of Integrity. He has been a faithful Episcopalian all his life, has embraced Jesus deeply into his life, turns the other cheek and looks for the face of God in every person he meets.

      • No you don’t. You actually need a real and personal experience of walking with Jesus, to activate agapay love.. Not motherly or sibling love,, not romantic love or platonic love.. I’m talking about honest to goodness pure essence love, that only Jesus can lead you into. A rappor with the Holy Trinity …???? honest to goodness you’ll never walk away from or give up on Jesus. You then work with Jesus, Holy Spirit + God every moment of your life.. With or without the church.. You will realise that God dwells within all people to a planned righteous path. Whether we obey God or not.. The pathway is clear.. Those who for whatever reasons renig .. It is up to God who knows all things and reasons to judge, and one couldn’t get a fairer judge than God Himself. Don’t ever rely on humans to interperate what God’s will is for any human. Take us all as individuals with different ideas…. Not lemmings.

        • Rona, you are a TROLL.

          Wanna know how I know that? You have made assumptions about me without enough information. You don’t know me. You don’t my history.

          If you don’t think other people reveal God’s love for you, then I feel very sorry for you.

          • Gloriamarie youre doing it again, please refrain from using Johns blog to push your intolerance. Johns blog is about promoting love and tolerance.
            Can we stick to the topic on how we can encourage churches to grow and use their talents wisely

    • Dan, I do hope you can find a truly loving and supportive Christian community that welcomes and celebrates your gifts. You are indeed God’s own beloved child, created in the image of God.
      I hope I am not too forward to offer you suggestions for denominations where you might feel at home. You can Google each of these to see if any are nearby and/or have a website.
      Metropolitan Community Church (MCC)
      United Church of Christ (UCC)
      Episcopal Church, USA (ECUSA)
      Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)
      Presbyterian Church, USA (PCUSA)
      United Methodist Church (UMC)
      Good luck in your journey and may God’s blessing be on you.

      • Yes! I am a Presbyterian, and the only time we hear gay issues mentioned in a sermon is in the context of our call to accept all people in love and appreciation, to welcome the outsider, to embrace those who are rejected or in need. One of the most moving sermons I ever heard was about Matthew Shepard’s murder. I highly recommend the Presbyterian Church (USA)!

    • Dan, hang in there. I know it’s tough! My daughter is a lesbian, and she turned her back on the church because she believed (probably correctly) that the church had rejected her. She is now vehemently atheistic, completely denying all the many experiences she had of God’s love and provision while she was growing up. It makes me so, so sad! I have entrusted her to God and I know He won’t abandon her … but oh it is so hard to see some of the things she posts on Facebook, and to hear some of the things she says! And hard, too, because so many of her beliefs are fully reinforced by the behavior of Christians.

  4. Jesus tells us to love our neighbor. There are no footnotes to that statement. There is no list of exceptions. There are no appendices. Just the bald statement ” love your neighbor as yourself.” Period. End of sentence. End of discussion as far as Jesus is concerned.

    I have often wondered what would have happened if instead of investing so much money, time, resources, energy, and effort into hating LGBT, had we pooled all those resources and applied them to world poverty. I bet we would have ended it.

    I know which I believe Jesus prefers.

  5. It’s also important to notice how, by excluding LGBT people from the church, we are missing out on their God-given gifts and abilities. What does the Body of Christ lack when it refuses to allow some of God’s people to be part of its ministry to the world?

    • Oh yes, indeed. I have been known to say at frequent intervals that I need the Body of Christ for many reasons. Two of them is that whole Body of Christ does those things I cannot and gives me what I cannot attain for myself. We need all the working parts for the Body of Christ to be whole.

      And for those who want to squawk that LGBT people are sinners, my only response is “So are you. Take the log out of your eye.”

  6. As always, thank you John for your words.
    I’ve been struggling to get the church to honor its LGBTQ members whose money it readily takes but whose gifts of the spirit are shunned. As I have told some leaders: I’m not leaving. You will have to cancel my confirmation and annul my baptism and then it still might not work.

  7. Thanks JP, I want to think about this parable more. Its a good one. We can put our efforts in to solving the real problems in life such as hunger, war, disease and injustice. We have the freedom to take the focus off our sin and focus on how to do good to others. We have the power to make things better for those in our sphere of influence rather than than dwell on our self centred obsession with keeping our hand clean.

    The more we ignore the real day to day… on the ground… problems; the more we focus on separating from and hating groups of people who are different from us….the more our problems grow. Jesus wants us to do the good works today. Those of us who leave it for Jesus to fix when he returns will realize we have failed because we neglected our time here and buried our talent by turning away from those who needed our help. We hide our light by staying cocooned in our religion and ignoring/blaming/accusing/hating the world around us.

    • 100% agree with you, Kathy. As I read your words I thought of Jesus talking about how He says “I never you” to people who did all sorts of things that were not of Him in His name .
      Matthew 25:34ff

      “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

      37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

      40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

      41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

      44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

      45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

      46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

      I think Jesus makes it inarguably clear that social justice is very dear to His heart.

  8. “How many hungry people could have been fed?”

    As luck would have it, this question was posed to Jesus Himself, and Jesus Himself answered this very question.

    If you will recall, it ended with “The poor ye have always. But you do not always have me”.

    • That has been THE MOST MAJOR cop out in the history of the church.

      It is used as an excuse to do nothing for the poor and since that directly contradicts what Jesus says above, I think it is better understood as “Yes, the poor will always be there, I won’t but in caring for the poor you do these things to and for me.”

      • Exactly.

        When Jesus said that, he was quoting, as he frequently did, from Deuteronomy (15:11 in this case). He intended for his followers to hear the rest of the verse when he quoted the first part. The entire verse is:

        “Since there will never cease to be some in need on the earth, I therefore command you, ‘Open your hand to the poor and needy neighbor in your land.'”

        • revsharkie, thank you. Now that you say that, yes, I remember that. In fact, isn’t there a reference to DT15:11 in the margins?

    • “The poor ye have always. But you do not always have me”.

      I once read a fundie diatribe that quoted this scripture item. Summed up, this is what it said:

      “You see!!!! Its Jesus’ own words. The poor will be with us always. No matter what we do or how much money we throw at them, they will still be here with us. They’re a hopeless case. So, why don’t we take all that money we are wasting on them and use it for something better…”

      • If there is something that infuriates me faster than this concept that we can put a dollar value on human life, I don’t know what that is.

        There is a level of greed and selfishness in many USian Christians that makes me sick to my stomach. This greed and selfishness is the way they wiggle out of their God-mandated responsibility to help those that need it.

        It is the witness of the prophets of the Hebrew Scriptures, it is the witness of Jesus, it is the witness of the Apostles, it is the witness of the Early Church Fathers, it is the witness of those we have identified as saints and great spiritual teachers.

        To pretend otherwise is simply to be in denial that one is too greedy and selfish to help others. Jesus says some things about such people in Matthew 25.

  9. The day before my beautiful Christian daughter came out, she served our church by running the food drive, sitting on the urban ministries task force, working in the nursing, teaching adult Sunday school, and spearheading the creation of the college-age Sunday school class. The day after she came out, she had to halt all this service for being gay. Indeed, John, the church shamefully buried her gifts in a very deep hole. Thanks be to God that another church, a welcoming and affirming church, took out their shovels and freed my daughter to again serve both God and her new church with all the gifts God has given her.

    • Gabrielle, the actions of that original church are sinful because of their failure to love their neighbor exactly as it delighted God to create your daughter.

      I rejoice that she found a church that saw how wonderful she is.

  10. It is true that the church, and humans in general, tend to quickly identify who we are against and expend a whole lot of energy squaring up against them and shoring up ourselves. Our energy would be much better spent doing the good works of providing food, clothing, shelter – love and compassion to whomever is in need. Remember “the least of these!”

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