taking the words of Jesus seriously

Queer people have more to offer the world than what we are not. There is something liberating and life-saving about the Gospel. Jesus hung out on the margins, with the outcasts, with the ones the religious elites deemed outside and undesirable.

He didn’t do that because he felt sorry for them, he did it because God is literally there. When we talk of faith, sexuality, and gender, it’s so much easier than many of us thought at first. The only thing you have to bring is yourself. So come with questions and an open heart and what you will find is something liberating, transforming, and awe-inspiring.

When I was in high school and beginning to realize that I was attracted to guys, I first turned to my Teen Study Bible to see what it had to say. The index in the back provided references to the study notes written by the edition’s authors. They told me that being gay was a sin and that AIDS is the result of sinful behavior.

I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something more, so I scoured the internet for other perspectives.

Tony & Peggy Campolo’s dialogue on homosexuality was hugely transformative for me. Tony talked about how biologically and sociologically homosexuality was natural and he knocked down many of the verses that are sometimes used to condemn gay people. And then Peggy took it a step further and knocked them all down and said that gay people DESERVE a place in the Christian community.

Related: An Open Letter to Tim Tebow – by Emily Timbol

I cannot overstate how important it was for me to hear a straight person say that. And I can’t underestimate how great of an impact her being Tony’s wife had on my ability to find and hear it.

But there’s something else I can’t overstate either: how devastating it was on my development as a queer person, as a Christian–as a human–that for years the only voices I was hearing in the Christian conversation were from straight people.

Years of listening to straight people talk about the Bible taught me that they were the only ones worth listening to about faith just like years of watching straight people in the media taught me that they were the only ones who knew anything about relationships.

That is why queer theology is so important: we owe it to LGBTQ people–now and in the future–to show that we have something valuable to contribute to the conversation of faith.

It isn’t just “let us in because we need your affirmation, ” it’s also “let yourself out because you need something from us too.” When LGBTQ voices are missing from the conversation, when LGBTQ bodies are absent from the table, everyone loses out.

Related: Supreme Court Debates Same-Sex Marriage. Should We? – by Micah Bales

And so, my challenge to straight cisgender Christians that are working out what it means to follow the Gospel of Jesus when it comes to LGBTQ people and issues is to spend time listening to us–not just to a few friends–but also to pastors like Fr. Shannon Kearns, to activists like Allyson Robinson, to authors like Patrick Cheng, and to countless other LGBTQ people speaking, writing, and working publicly.

Ask not what you can teach us about Jesus–ask what we can teach you. And not just about grace, love, and faith; but about salvation, liberation, and justice too.

We will teach you about ourselves and you will learn more about yourself than you imagined possible.

And you will find God in our midst.

The table is ready; you are welcome there with us.

If you’d like to dive deeper, my friend Fr. Shannon T.L. Kearns and I are about to start a six-week, multimedia course on queer theology called Reading Queerly. Reading Queerly is an invitation to read scripture with new eyes. The course guides you through the process of approaching faith from a queer perspective, and to find fresh ways to find yourself in the story of faith. You can learn more and register here.

Brian G. Murphy is a filmmaker, entrepreneur, and activist who works with visionary individuals and organizations to create savvy digital campaigns that make a difference. Brian is the co-creator of the Legalize Trans* campaign and Queer Theology and has worked with the Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education, The Simple Way, Soulforce, and GLSEN.

Photo Credit: elina / Shutterstock.com

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