I GREW up in the Church, and from an early age was sent to Church and Sunday School.
On the one hand, my faith grew and I met good people and developed great friendships, yet on the other hand, I was taught certain things to believe concerning the Bible, God, and life; one of them being that homosexuality is a sin. I confess I never questioned this, simply because I had no cause to, but then I remember in my late teens a friend coming out as gay. Not only do I remember him sharing that he had tried many times to ‘pray away the gay,’ but I also questioned how the church treated him; he felt he had no choice but to leave.
I remember thinking that no human being deserved to be treated the way he was. This left me with lots of questions regarding my theology and reality, and when I stepped into ministry life 20 years ago, I continued to meet lots of LGBT+ people who would share their stories and experiences of how the church treated them.
Their stories were heart breaking.
Their stories caused me to question my theology.
Their stories changed me.
I love the famous words of the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu: ‘I would not worship a God who is homophonic, and that is how deeply I feel about this. I am as passionate about this as I ever was about apartheid. For me, it is at the same level.’
I don’t believe the Church will ever reach its full potential if we continue to exclude our LGBT+ brothers and sisters. I believe that the gospel of Jesus extends to all, therefore, I am passionate about speaking out and taking a stand for our LGBT+ community. Over the course of my life as a minister, I have met a number of people from our Trans community. Again, I have sat as they have shared their painful stories and struggles, and I confess watching how they are currently being treated in the public square and also on social media, is completely heart-breaking. I think somewhere in all this, we have forgotten that our Trans community are people too. They are human just like you and I. Many feel it is somehow okay to stand on the side-lines convinced that God has given them the right to be judge and jury concerning their lives.
Without getting to know them.
Without hearing their stories – so often of pain and anguish.
Without taking the time to discover that they are people too.
Interestingly, a lot of people of faith seek so desperately (and whole-heartedly) to want to live as Jesus lived. Surely, this must mean reaching to those in the margins? Surely, this means seeking to include those who are excluded? No rights for our LGBT+ community is complete if our Trans community is excluded or left behind. Let’s remember that trans rights are human rights too!