Called to Love: Reaching out to LGBTQ Christians

The church has often excluded people in the LGBTQ community. People with other sexual orientations have been rejected, marginalized, and excluded in ways that other groups have not been.

They’ve been made to feel unwelcome in parishes, subjected to conversion therapy, and prevented from volunteering or receiving sacraments. In some cases, they’ve lost jobs and reputations.

Fr. James Martin, author of Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter Into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity, says that many LGBTQ Christians “are made to feel like they are a mistake.”

How should we, as Christians, respond to this? What does the Bible tell us?

Jesus didn’t discriminate

In Jesus’s time, Jewish society had its own people on the margins: tax collectors, prostitutes, Samaritans, the poor. Jesus offered himself to all of them. He reached out especially for those who were made to feel excluded.

Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman, who would have been despised by the Jews (John 4). He had dinner with Zacchaeus, who was a tax collector—a profession the Jews considered disloyal (Luke 19:1-10). Jesus loved all people for the children of God that they were.

As Christians, shouldn’t we also go out of our way to welcome those who are discriminated against?

Would God want any of His children to feel less loved?

God gives his gifts freely

As discussed in Building a Bridge, LGBTQ Christians are no different than anyone else who participates in the Church. They provide all kinds of support to Christian communities, working and volunteering in churches, schools, rectories, social service agencies, and charities. And their numbers are significant—according to a 2014 Pew Research Center study, 48% of gay, lesbian, and bisexual people in the United States identify as Christian.

Further, according to Fr. Martin, those who are rejected often develop special gifts of sensitivity and compassion, because they know what it feels like to be excluded.

Each person that God created has a gift—and every gift is different. The Bible says in Romans 12:6 that God gives each of us different gifts through His grace. 1 Corinthians 12:4-7 tells us that these gifts come from God to benefit the common good. Ephesians 4:11 says that God’s gifts work together to create the spiritual body of Christ:

“And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ . . . according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.”

Ephesians 4:11

Every gift is needed. God can work through all of us to use the gifts He has placed in us.

If God has placed in His people the desire and the ability to serve Him, who are we to block that service?

Judge not

The word “judgment” appears almost 300 times in the Bible. God makes it pretty clear that we are not to take it upon ourselves to condemn others:

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”

Matthew 7:1-3

“Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it . . . There is only one lawgiver and judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?”

James 4:11-12

“Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.”

Romans 14:10

To be clear, “do not judge” doesn’t mean anything goes. We are still responsible for living according to God’s Word. It simply means that GOD, Who knows our hearts, is the only judge. God does not call us to condemn; He calls us to love.

We are called to love

Christians are called to demonstrate compassion, dignity, and sensitivity toward others, especially those who are most in need. In Matthew 25:40, Jesus says, 

“Truly, I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

Matthew 25:40

Everyone is loved by God, and every heart desires to know God. Every heart that wants God should be encouraged to find Him. The job of the Church is to help make this happen.

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