In starting Embrace Teesside I knew from the outset that my firm belief that God loves, affirms and celebrates our community is not a belief that all Christians will share. In a way, I’m fine with that. We all have different ideas and views and as long as we love and respect each other, that’s perfectly OK. The issue is that for many of us, the message has not been welcoming and loving and that has led to some of us wanting nothing to do with the church or faith.
Yesterday I met a wonderful methodist minister who talked to me about her personal journey from growing up in a very conservative church to her position today where she believes as I do, that God celebrates LGBTQIA+ people. It made me realise that many Christians are on a journey themselves, struggling with what for them, must be a difficult issue, as they have always been taught that being gay or trans is wrong.
For me, I am happy for anyone to disagree with my belief that this is not a sin, but I would gently refer those people to what Jesus says in Matthew 7:17-20, which is that you will know them by their fruits. If the fruit of your teaching is that millions of people around the world are isolated, marginalised and driven away from faith, then you have it very wrong. If I am wrong, and the Bible does say that my love for my partner is sinful, I will rest in the knowledge that the fruit of what I proclaim is that people are brought back to God’s loving embrace.
To be fair, I know many Christians who disagree with my conclusions but who would never in a million years want to marginalise or isolate us. But some in the church have got it very wrong and I appeal to them to think carefully about their fruit.