This is not the first time I’ve been asked to leave my church…

As a queer person in the Sydney Anglican Church, this is not the first time I’ve heard the message “please leave us”. In a frenzy of conversation about these comments, the Archbishop published an opinion piece defending what was meant by his statement: “The words were not directed at members of our congregations, especially those who identify as gay, whether single or married… It is regrettable that some have misrepresented my words, whether intentionally or unintentionally. In our churches, people are being nurtured in community.”

But sadly the reality of gay people in the Sydney Anglican Church is that we are not being nurtured in community. The reality for LGBTIQA+ Christians, our families and our supporters is that Glenn Davies’ church, the Anglican Church of Sydney, is not a welcome place. And it hasn’t been for a long time. We’ve been receiving the subtle message “please leave us” for far too long…

It happened when I first came out to my minister and all my leadership and involvement in church was removed.

Please leave us.

It happened when I asked questions of scripture that didn’t make sense and was called a ‘false teacher’.

Please leave us.

It especially painfully happened when dating someone in my church meant I would be refused communion – the most sacred act of acknowledging my participation and share in Jesus Christ – which was to publicly show I did not belong to this community.

Please leave us.

It happens right now when the theological view is that you are not here as an equal member, you do not get to fully participate in this family.

Please leave us.

My church has been asking LGBTIQA+ people to leave for a long time. By excluding us from full participation in Jesus’ kingdom. By silencing our Spirit-inspired voices. By labeling our lives as “deviant” and our supporters as “apostates”.

But we are still here. And I will not be leaving my church. Because, in Jesus, I belong to this church. And thankfully there are some corners of our community that subvert the teaching of this church and do create spaces of nurture, but sometimes it is hard to look past the loudest message “please leave us”.

I share a vision for my church to be better. It’s a church that’s a family, that listens, that welcomes, that reaches to those who are different, that models the fellowship of the God we worship; a fellowship of unconditional and mutual love between equal persons. I believe our family can be better, and as a family united in Christ, we can’t simply leave, we kinda need to figure this out.

There is a conversation our church needs to have about what gospel transformation looks like in the life of someone who is queer.

As a queer Christian friend so poignantly shared with me this week: “There is no way to prepare for looking someone in the eye and saying ‘I know you are trying to love me and keep me safe, but what you are doing is slowly, but surely killing me’,”.

Listen to us.

Together we share in the kingdom of Jesus, the reconciling, redeeming and flourishing of all life through grace under God. When it becomes obvious that queer Christians are not flourishing under our current model, let us speak to our experiences of church and faith.

Listen to us.

We must remember grace. Grace is one of the most traditional, central doctrines of our faith …and yet every Sunday LGBTIQA+ people are told they need to do something, stop something, change something to receive it. If we are to be guardians of true doctrine, let us be passionate to defend this one.

Listen to us.

We have more that unites us than divides us. We share in the goal of seeing the kingdom of Jesus brought to life. With this at the centre, we can grapple with what that means in light of differing interpretations of Scripture. But I need you to start by listening…

Listen to us.

 

You can provoke a conversation in your church by reading a book of affirming theology (you might like this one authored by my dear friend) in your bible study, asking for your church to host a “Queer Christian Storytelling Night”, host a panel discussion with queer Christians speaking about “how to love inclusively”. Get together with people in your congregation to ask your minister and/or parish council for listening. Get in touch. We’re here in the family, just waiting for you to create space for us 😊

If you’re reading this at the time of writing, come listen to a panel of diverse Christians voices on Nov 2.

 

2 thoughts on “This is not the first time I’ve been asked to leave my church…

  1. Sam says:

    Thanks for your blog – a friend on Facebook shared this.
    I appreciate the depth of your friends comment: “There is no way to prepare for looking someone in the eye and saying ‘I know you are trying to love me and keep me safe, but what you are doing is slowly, but surely killing me’”.

    I go to an Anglican church that is quite conservative on these matters (as are my own convictions, the result of years of wrestling). However, I too have been deeply saddened and pained by the divisions some have created in this conversation through misunderstandings, mistrust and quickness to judge what is ‘different’.

    I wonder if you might be able to do a piece considering how you might wish for conservatives to respond to our LGBTIQA+ friends around these discussions in light of their convictions?
    You’ve clearly thought about these issues a lot, so I’m sure you will understand that to many, this matter is one of accepting or rejecting the means of grace God has given through his word. For us with this view, it would be right to refuse communion to anyone living willingly living opposed to our conviction (true of any issue, sexual or not). How might we do so in love?

    I hope we can keep the conversation open – no doubt we both have a lot to learn 🙂

    God Bless,

    Like

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