Regarding LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and/or all other non-heterosexual identities) persons, this means that we affirm and accept them as they are. However, we as Christians have regularly told LGBTQ+ people that they are, in fact, not children of God, that they are abominations, and that they will rot in Hell for who they are.
We strive to transform toxic Christianity into a form that is life-giving for all.We at Central UMC join in a growing chorus of voices who insist that this is not the gospel message. This is what it means that we are a Reconciling church: we are attempting to transform Christianity from its toxic form that it has taken (regarding LGBTQ+ people) into a life-giving form.
We do not see LGBTQ+ people as sinners, except to the degree to which we all are. They are beloved creations of God and of infinite worth. We have held this position for years, and were historically one of the first churches in the Skagit Valley to do so.
We at Central UMC strive to support LGBTQ+ persons in their life of faith. We, like everyone else, are imperfect. We are not all on the same page all of the time, including around these issues. And we cannot claim that LGBTQ+ people will never get hurt in our congregation. But having the Reconciling label attached to our congregation means that we will never let that stand. We as a congregation as a whole have taken this position and will work to that end.
The problem, in brief
Throughout Christian history, the Church has largely rejected homosexuality as “sinful behavior.” The “unnatural lust” for someone of the same sex was claimed to be a sign of depravity and an “abomination.” To them, same-sex love was clearly offensive to God and thus to be forcefully shunned. Many churches still hold these beliefs, either in their traditional strong form or cloaked in the form of “hate the sin, love the sinner.”
However, this is not the only way to think as a Christian. There are many elements of Christian thought that can allow for same-sex attraction. For example, Jesus never addresses homosexuality at all.
LGBTQ+ people too are made in the image of God and are of sacred worthAnd Christianity has the rich tradition of imago Dei—human beings are made in the image of God, and thus (as the Creation story says) are created “very good.” Each human in their unique diversity (including diversity of sexualities) is of sacred worth.
Moreover, all throughout Christian history, there are numerous examples of people of God, revered through the ages, who can be understood as queer: David and Jonathan, eunichs, Ruth and Naomi, Saints Sergius and Bacchus, Perpetua and Felicity, to name a few.
At this point in America, there are many faithful Christians, including Christian pastors, who accept LGBTQ+ people wholeheartedly into their congregations. This explicit welcome is necessary when LGBTQ+ people have been, and continue to be, so deliberately excluded from so much of Christianity in such harmful ways.