Last weekend, I attended the Revoice Conference in St. Louis. The conference focused on “LGBT+ flourishing in historic Christian traditions.” At 400 registrants, it sold out nearly two months before the conference, and it brought together Christians from a number of denominations interested in what it means to be LGBT+ and committed to a traditional Christian sexual ethic. Even though I could only attend one day of the conference, I learned a lot. Here are four things I realized:
1. We owe a lot to those who have come before us.
I can’t imagine what it would have been like to grow up in a Church where I would have been directed to a counselor who told me my attractions were the result of a weak father and an overbearing mother, or that I should make it my goal to do whatever I could to marry a woman. I can’t imagine what I would have been like if I had been told to stay quiet about abuses in ministry, or if I would have been directed to one of the many (then-respected) organizations which touted “orientation change” and then eventually closed after it was discovered that many in leadership sexually abused nearly every person who entered into their care. I can’t imagine what I would have been like if I had seen that happening to many young people around me.
And yet people who were in those positions are still in the Church. They still hold true to their churches’ teachings on marriage and sexuality. And they have spent much of their careers (and, at times, their reputations and prestige) on fighting for spaces of openness, honesty, and integration. I don’t think my life has been easy as a gay Catholic, but I do think that it would have been much more difficult had it not been for gay Christians before me who have sought not only to minister, but to minister with honesty and integrity. Those of us who are younger in the gay Christian world have a much better vantage point, only because those before us have let us stand on their shoulders (and because, despite it all, they have remained standing).
2. We’re not waiting anymore.
Many gay people have complained about our lack of visibility in our churches and their failure to create spaces for us. We’re done waiting. ReVoice was organized and directed primarily by gay persons. We’re done waiting for our churches to create spaces for dialogue and welcome. We’re happy to do it ourselves.
3. We’re ready.
As many of us have asked our churches to create spaces where we could be welcome, heard, and included, we’ve sometimes overlooked the fact that we also have our own unique gifts to offer. We now realize that if we are going to respond to the needs of the Church, we need to respond with our own gifts. And we recognize that we have them in abundance. We’re not waiting for someone else to do things for us. We can do ministry. We can exercise hospitality. We can engage in dialogue. We have already. We do. And we will. We’re ready to equip ourselves, and each other.
4. We have much better things to do than argue with you.
We don’t have time to constantly justify ourselves to our Twitter critics. We’re too busy having our friends over for dinner.
If you’re curious, you can find my Revoice presentation on community here.