Justice and the LGBTQ Community; Two First Years Reflect
In reflecting on our experience at the Sexuality and Covenant Conference, we have been drawn to explore question “What can heterosexual brothers and sisters in Christ learn from our LGBTQ brothers and sisters?” At the recent [Baptist] Conference on Sexuality and Covenant, Cody Sanders addressed a similar question, which has inspired us to collaborate on this blog. We believe that there is a lot to learn from the LGBTQ community, especially regarding the aim to love justly. The discrimination that has been shown to the LGBTQ community can no longer be ignored. We hope to see CBF support churches in this endeavor through modeling inclusive and unconditional love for all those who are responding to calls of service.
During his address, plenary presenter Cody Sanders named the hierarchal (patriarchal) structures in heterosexual relationships based on stereotypical gender roles. He said that a lesson the LGBTQ community can teach the heterosexual community is to be intentional in defining roles of power in one-on-one relationships. In homosexual relationships, there are no preconceived assumptions of power. The same should be true in the Church, regarding the hierarchal power structures. Assumptions should not be made based on sexuality, gender, or color of skin. Instead, we have learned that open minds and constructive conversations are fruitful ways to understand a person’s character and call and a means of determining leadership in the Church.
Throughout our first year at Wake Div and our time at the conference, we have encountered and become familiar with many LGBTQ peers. These friendships have taught us first hand what it means to have perseverance. Our friends have endured judgment and violence in ways that we will never have to experience. Nevertheless, they still return to the Church. In Hebrews 12:1, it says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Our LGBTQ community has shown us what this verse truly means as they continue to faithfully remain in the church and push boundaries. Thinking about our great cloud of witnesses, it is certainly not complete with the current CBF policy excluding our LGBTQ friends and mentors.
Finally, we learned that justice will not be reached simply when laws are passed allowing LGBTQ marriages or hiring policies are changed. While we are not homosexuals, as women we understand the fight for justice within the Baptist tradition. Even though it is permissible for women to have leadership positions, it is not fully fought for or affirmed. The same is true for our LGBTQ friends and will be until justice is embraced. It is important for us to stand in solidarity with our LGBTQ brothers and sisters. In the words of Martin Luther King Jr., “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” As Baptists who affirm liberty of conscience, we cannot be satisfied with the injustices that occur in the Baptist world against the LGBTQ community. If we have learned anything from the conference and at Wake Div it is that love is not exclusive and is constantly challenging us to be truly progressive.
Abby Pratt and Katie Schlimmer
First Year Students