Despite the attempts of sites like Church Clarity, Googling a church to find out its views on homosexuality and LGBTQ people isn’t as easy as it should be, and that’s not a coincidence.
Progressive Christian Ken Wilson explains why at Medium:
Most of these churches use descriptors like “non-denominational” or “contemporary” or “culturally relevant.” Their pastors (men) wear untucked shirts and the sermons are filled with pop culture references and are ably-illustrated with video clips (PowerPoint is so 1990’s). These are some of the most savvy churches known to Google. The websites are littered with words like “welcome,” “diverse,” and “loving” – all true if you believe gayness is “intrinsically disordered” (the modern lingo that replaces “perverse”) or don’t care how the church regards its LGBTQ+ members and visitors.
This is the new normal (more on that in in a minute) so chances are the newer and hipper churches in your town that advertise on the busses (“finally, a church for young professionals!”) – hide their policies. They may even tell the inquiring gay couple, “Of course you’re welcome!” while failing to inform them that, in the eyes of the church, their relationship is something to repent of. The unsuspecting couple enjoys the awesome culturally-current church, falls in love with the people. A year or two later they learn of the polices that discriminate against them – the age-old bait & switch. I have heard such stories over and over from credible witnesses. Often the effects are devastating (more on that too).
I can attest to this from experience.
When I first moved to northern Colorado with my husband and we were looking to make new friends, we joined the largest non-denominational church in the area, where all the “young professionals” were. The church’s website advertised itself as a seeker-friendly place for everyone, “no matter where you are in your journey.” Other key words mentioned by Wilson, such as “welcome” and “loving” were scattered throughout the site as well. But I had to eventually back out of Bible study, because my LGBTQ-affirming views (among other things) were explicitly condemned as heretical.The small group wasn’t led by anyone on church staff, but still — I wondered why a church that was so “welcoming” of LGBTQ people attracted so many people who, well, weren’t.
Come to think of it, in the five or so years I attended that church, I never met a single gay or trans person. At least, not one who was out of the closet.
These growing churches dialed back their rhetoric on the hot-button issues, because they were interested in reaching people who didn’t care about the issues like they did. And then the Supreme Court decision for marriage equality happened. At the same time, the polling (especially among younger people) was shifting dramatically. Now lots of people who might be attracted to these great-if-you’re-straight churches believe same-gender sex can be healthy and life-affirming for gay people. So the policies – still in effect – became a little embarrassing and now they are shared only on a “need-to-know” basis.
If evangelicals love to claim they are “persecuted” and that the Gospel message is “offensive” — all the more reason for them to preach it loudly and proudly — then why be so secretive about their stance towards LGBTQ people? Why not be up front and honest and let the haters hate? Isn’t that what Jesus said would happen?
It’s more likely they know their beliefs are shameful, but they’re bound to them for religious reasons, and they know there’s no good way to tell open-minded people that same-sex relationships are a non-starter for the church. They’ve decided that strategic deception is more important than openness and honesty. (It’s the same criticism we’ve posted about when it comes to Christians who hold up signs saying “I’m sorry” at Pride parades.)
But Jesus also said to let your “yes be yes” and your “no be no.” If you ask any of the staff members of churches like this what their stance is on LGBTQ issues, and they say something to the effect of, “Well, there’s a lot there to unpack, so let’s meet for coffee and talk about it,” you might actually get your answer. That’s fine, but the churches aren’t doing anybody any favors by hiding what they already know they believe.
(Image via Shutterstock)