It is very ironic when I tell my LGBT friends to leave their non-affirming churches seeing as I am a Methodist and my denomination is not affirming of LGBT persons at all (albeit the denomination as a whole is at least in discussion about how to better engage the LGBT community & my local church is much more affirming). But I am getting sidetracked – It is my firm belief that LGBT persons should not stay in, tithe at, or participate in religious communities that are not affirming.
“Whatever town or village you enter, find out who in it is worthy, and stay there until you leave. As you enter the house, greet it. If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. Truly I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the Day of Judgment than for that town.” – Matthew 10:11-15
In this passage Jesus is speaking to His apostles about carrying the good news into surrounding towns, and He is careful to tell them not to stay where they are not welcome. I know what you may be thinking how ironic that I’m using the Sodom & Gomorrah reference since the story of Sodom & Gomorrah is typically used against people who are LGBT; but it works really well when you consider Ezekiel 16:49: “This was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy.” The needy in these church communities are the LGBT youth contemplating suicide because they don’t feel like God loves them but, at the same time the needy in these communities are also the oppressive ministers and congregants using poorly thought out theology to spiritually terrorize minority groups.
Non-affirming churches are committing the same sins as Sodom by not welcoming, by taking tithes from LGBT Christians and using their funds to promote hatred, by focusing on adjectives like gender, sex, sexuality, class, race, etc and not focusing on the subjects – the people made in the divine image of Almighty God.
Don’t get me wrong, Jesus at no point says not to share the good news of God’s grace with these unwelcoming cities, and likewise I would say that we should not give up hope on these non-affirming churches. If God can part the Red Sea and even make asses reprimand prophets then surely God is capable of softening hard-hearts, but I don’t believe that LGBT people should be the ones witnessing in these hostile environments, it should be heterosexuals. When God saw the children of Israel being oppressed in Egypt, he didn’t call one of the slaves to talk to Pharaoh; he called Moses, a former prince of Egypt. When God saw that the Israelite spies were in trouble in Jericho God used Rahab, a citizen of that town to save them; God is constantly calling the people in power and in comfortable positions to use their power for good rather than for evil. Justice not oppression. Love and not hate. Love does not excommunicate someone because of whom they are attracted to; love does not use seven verses to shut people out of the faith community overruling Jesus’ command to love one’s neighbor as oneself; love does not sit idly by as young LGBT kids leave the pews to be laid in coffins – love speaks truth to power, love embracing all of God’s children, love looks like Jesus.