I wholly agree with the project’s founders that this campaign is direly needed, but that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. For this to truly take off, NALT must find a way to invite youth themselves into the conversation. It’s one thing to hear from assorted faces on a screen about how not all Christians hate LGBT people; it’s something else entirely to be able to share your experiences with faith-based bigotry, or faith-based acceptance, and allow members of a religious community to respond and react. Once we listen to those who have been hurt by intolerance rooted in religion, that’s when change will start to happen.
Tribes are big on boundaries. We like to create them, and police them, and enforce them. And some of the evangelical tribal gatekeepers say that anyone who doesn’t condemn LGBT people is out of bounds, and no longer really an evangelical Christian.
But that’s just dumb. Condemning gay people isn’t what made me an evangelical Christian in the first place, so how could not condemning gay people mean I’ve suddenly stopped being one? I’m an evangelical Christian because Jesus loves me and declares me to be a beloved child of God. Not because I agreed to hate some other group of God’s beloved children, or to deny them their full equality in society and in the church.
But six years later, the Shores hit a problem: they wanted to volunteer as deacons, but a church leader asked them to sign a paper agreeing that no one who is in a same-gender relationship should have a position of church authority. “I thought the lady was joking,” John recalls. “The idea that becoming a Christian meant that I was supposed to suddenly have an understanding that my LGBT friends were suddenly immoral was repugnant to me. It wasn’t reasonable to me that it would be integral to Christian theology.” His wife, Catherine, put it even more strongly: “If this is an inextricable part of the Christian experience, I’m out,” she told him. “Somebody’s misread something.”
That moment pushed the Shores to a new level of commitment to equality. They joined an Episcopal church and started studying the Bible to learn what it actually says about homosexuality. Of the more than 31,000 passages in the Bible, Shore says, homosexuality is only discussed in six or seven, and Jesus never demands his followers sacrifice compassion. “It actually is more Biblical if you make affirmation of LGBT people part of your understanding of the word of God,” he says. Plus, he argues, theology follows sociology. “It changed when it came to slavery, it changed when it came to women’s suffrage, it will change with this issue.”
I am the little girl in Sunday School who’s always the first to raise her hand. I am the girl who gets the lead solo in the Christmas pageant every year. I am the teenager who plays piano for the worship service every fourth Sunday. I am the lady who hosts a small group in her home. I am the teacher in your kids’ Children’s Church. I am the Facebook friend who posts Rachel Held Evans‘ articles on your news feed all the time. I am the friend who prays for you and with you every time you ask. I am Mary Lambert. I am Jason Collins. I am a Christian, and I am not an LGBTQ ally. I AM queer, and I am here.
And a lot of us are like that.
[This is the post to which the preceding is a follow-up. Also, I love the phrase, "Maybe it's because they're too busy not being tools."]
Does Dan Savage honestly think the first American president to publicly endorse same-sex marriage was re-elected without the votes of evangelical Christians? Does he think no votes for marriage equality in Maine, Maryland, Washington, and Minnesota were cast by evangelical Christians? Okay, maybe these Christians aren’t shouting from their church steeples that, “I’m a Christian and I’m not a tool!” But maybe it’s not because they’re complacently allowing the likes of James Dobson and Bryan Fischer to hijack the issue. Maybe it’s because they’re too busy not being tools. They’re out there just living, being kind to people, treating the people in their lives with justice, mercy, and equality, and quietly voting for our rights in elections they can’t wait to be over.
Once more for the record, I am a bisexual feminist liberal Christian. And personally, I’ll take the conservative friend who says “You know I believe differently than you on this, but I just want you to be happy” over the liberal activist who says I’m not gay enough or loud enough any day.
Paul Brandeis Raushenbush: Not All Like That Project: Christians Come Out For LGBT People With Dan Savage’s Support
Savage told The Huffington Post that he thought the videos were really important. “The It Gets Better Campaign brought LGBT kids who were struggling a message of support. This series of videos will be great for young LGBT kids coming out to their Christians families who can direct their parents to NALT.” Savage went on to say that the NALT campaign can also have a political message in that anti-gay Christians appear to speak for all Christians when they condemn gay people. “I know that isn’t true. My mom was a Christian,” Savage says. “Go tell Tony Perkins that he is the one lying. This is an opportunity to harness social media and mass activism online”