Wednesday, April 27, 2016


I sent an email to a pastor a few months ago, asking if lgbtq+people are welcome in their church and got an amazing reply, which I read during my break at work.

Later that evening while doing housework, I was thinking further about the reply and realized that I couldn't remember if the pastor had indicated what they believe about same-sex marriage.

That rather puzzled me. When I later checked the email, it turns out they had made one off-hand remark about it.

Now I'm going to ask you to read the email, edited only to remove identifying details and the one specific sentence that offhandedly indicated a specific theological belief.

Based on the pastor's reply, can you guess what theological beliefs are held about same-sex marriage?

First, I am new to (this church). If  people who are LGBTQ are not welcomed and received lovingly here, this would be a serious issue for me.

(This church) welcomes diversity and this means there are different perspectives on homosexuality in our midst. I'm convinced we all agree that love, acceptance and inclusion is the only Christ-like response to all people regardless of race, sexual orientation, etc. We welcome honest and respectful dialogue about the Bible and our beliefs with the condition that love is always valued more than our individual beliefs or perspectives.

My call as the pastor of (this church) is to create safe space for everyone who is part of our community to be real and be received with love and dignity. This includes LGBTQ individuals and the people who struggle with the issue of homosexuality because of their understanding of what the Bible says about it. My belief is this: Only as we relate to one another as equal human beings and pray together and discern together will the Spirit lead us into deeper understanding and love. I don't force my opinions or perspectives on others (nor do I hide them) - but I tenaciously and passionately invite us into communion with one another.

My hope is that (this church) will become a safe place for everyone who is LGBTQ in (city) and surrounding area. Not only for their sake - but for ours. My experience in walking alongside and serving God with gay men in my last church was a huge blessing to me. I have grown and encountered God in new ways because of those relationships. My conviction is we need each other. If we can really listen to each other - God will move in profound ways.

I hope this has answered your question with clarity and honesty.
I also hope you will visit us when you are in (city). I'd love to meet you.

God's peace and wisdom continue to guide you brother.


Whatever you guessed, you could be right. 

What I mean is this: the pastor who sent me this reply has one theological belief about same-sex marriage. But I then asked another pastor to read the above paragraphs and that pastor agreed with them all -- yet has the opposite theological belief about same-sex marriage.

So why do I share this?

From what I can tell (and from knowing the pastor whose theological beliefs do not allow for same-sex marriage), people who are lgbtq+ would be equally welcome and embraced in either church. They would notice no difference in attending the two churches, participating in the church community and fellowship, and interacting with these pastors, unless they asked to be married.

I'm not suggesting that a pastor saying "no" to two people who love each other and want to be married is insignificant.

But it is significant and rare to find a pastor with conservative views on this who is so embracing, in a time when for many people, that single theological belief results in walls raised and hearts closed ...

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