What is LGBTQ?
This is an acronym that stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer or Questioning, and is used as a way to self-identify one’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Please refer to our Glossary of Terms for a specific discussion of each word.
Isn’t being gay unnatural?
Absolutely not! People who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered were born that way. That is to say, whether or not one is gay is determined by genetics. Having a characteristic not shared by the majority of people doesn’t make one unnatural, only different. People naturally vary in many ways such as coloring, intelligence and abilities. We don’t refer to those whose intelligence or capabilities are vastly different from the majority as being unnatural. The same is true of gender identity and sexual preference.
Can you explain the rainbow flag?
A rainbow flag was designed by Gilbert Baker in 1978 as a symbol for the gay pride movement in San Francisco. The rainbow flag and symbols derived from it rapidly spread to other parts of the country, and by the mid-1980s, the rainbow symbol was internationally recognized as a symbol for the gay community.
Introducing the Topic of Open and Affirming
What do you mean by Open and Affirming?
Open and Affirming means that a church has intentionally and publicly stated that those of all sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions (or lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people) are welcome in its full life and ministry (e.g. membership, leadership, employment, etc.). Many ONA statements, like ours, also include peoples from other historically marginalized groups.
I’m ok with being “open,” but doesn’t being “affirming” mean that I think being gay is somehow a condition I’m encouraging people to attain?
No. People can’t attain a gay condition. They are either born gay or they are not. What you are affirming is that all people, including those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered, are children of God and deserve to be treated as such by us. We are, in essence, affirming the essential humanity of us all. It’s one of those “many gifts, but all one body” kinds of things. That is something that, as Christians, we are expected to acknowledge. The point of being ONA is to make clear to all that we take seriously our Christian commitment to “love one another,” and that we value the gifts each of us brings to the church or the body of Christ.
Our Articles of Incorporation state our purpose as: To share Christ’s light and welcoming, open and loving message with all people (Articles of Incorporation, Article IV – Purpose). Isn’t this enough?
Sadly, no. The Christian church, as a whole, is not welcoming of LGBTQ peoples. Furthermore, it is a place where many LGBTQ peoples and their families have experienced rejection, bigotry and even, abuse. No one should have to guess about the “boundaries of inclusion” of a congregation or other ministry. A clear welcome matters to LGBTQ adults, seeking to share their gifts and faith, LGBTQ youth who need the guidance of faith communities as they question and establish their understandings of sexuality, spirituality, and relationships, and LGBTQ clergy who often feel that to serve the church, they must hide their true selves and lives. It matters to all Christians who believe that God’s affirmations of the gifts of loving relationships and sexuality are not restricted to those who are heterosexual, and look to their church to witness to God’s inclusive love and help them to better understand and live it.
Why is the ONA focus on LGBTQ people? Shouldn’t we be open to everyone?
Yes, we should be open to everyone. The reason that the focus of the ONA is primarily on LGBTQ individuals is that they are the primary group that is still actively stigmatized and shunned by many and particularly the Christian Church as a whole. Our ONA Statement, however, does include other groups of people who have been stigmatized or excluded.
Are you talking about giving special privileges to LGBTQ individuals?
No. We are talking about giving equal privileges to LGBTQ individuals.
What does the Bible say?
As part of our discernment process, we had many opportunities to study the scripture references that are often quoted as condemning “homosexual” behavior. Our Team had the following theological perspectives as a frame of reference:
- God condemns any sexual behavior, whether homosexual or heterosexual, which is promiscuous and exploitative because it violates the humanity of the self and the other. There is no reference in the Bible to same-sex expressions of love within a caring, committed relationship.
- In the Exodus story, God hears the cries of the oppressed and moves to liberate them from bondage. We interpret the welcoming of LGBTQ peoples into the Christian community as one contemporary expression of God’s on-going movement of liberation.
- In creation, God forms all persons, including LGBTQ persons, in God’s own image.
- From Micah 6:8 and other biblical passages, our clear mandate as the people of God is to “do justice.” We see the welcoming of LGBTQ individuals as a social justice issue.
- God is a hospitable presence, eager to welcome and include, especially the stranger. “Welcoming the stranger” is a prominent, unique theme of Scripture. We do not want the LGBTQ person to be an unwelcomed stranger in our midst.
Have questions or wish to engage in conversation? Please contact us.