Clearing Up Misconceptions

I realize that many of you are exhausted with reading posts against evangelicals, political conservatives, and the Religious Right regarding all-things-LGBTQ-related from me. I get it. I really do get it. But I need you to understand this: I get inundated with material week after week of political conservatives, evangelicals, and the Religious Right taking some action, whether legislatively or in word or deed, against LGBTQ people. Do you really expect me to remain quiet? Do you think I and others should just ignore it? Do you not think that Jesus Himself could be using responses, even such as the ones I present, as a means of opposing the unChristian nature of such individuals? Allow me some clarification.

In light of the previous post, "On the Evangelical War with Gays," I was asked if I thought all who espouse a traditionalist understanding of human sexuality and marriage are unregenerate, given some of the comments I made, and the question is fair. No, I do not think that all who maintain a traditionalist understanding of human sexuality and marriage are unregenerate -- quite the opposite, as my own parents disagree with same-gendered marriage, but trust in and follow Jesus Christ. Let me be clear: I think those who call themselves Christians yet persecute LGBTQ people (or any others) are unregenerate. What constitutes "persecution"?

Could not such people be regenerate but merely deceived? That is also a possibility. Mind you, I think most, and I indeed mean most, quantitatively, from among or within this group, whom I will label the Religious Right (of whom I have also referred to as (political) conservatives and evangelicals), refuse to grant that same grace to LGBTQ persons; the latter of whom will, according to the Religious Right, spend eternity in hell, separated from the presence of God, regardless of their faith in Jesus as Savior.

But understand this: our words and our actions are grand portals into the state of our hearts (Matt. 12:34). Regenerate Christians are commanded to love their neighbor (Mark 12:28-33) and their enemies (Matt. 5:43-48). If self-professing Christians seek to harm LGBTQ people (or others) then that is a tale-tell sign of their potential unregeneracy. The indwelling Spirit of God convicts us of sin, of righteousness, and of wrong-doing. (John 16:8-11) The Holy Spirit is hard at work conforming our inner selves toward the likeness of Christ and obeying Him (cf. Rom. 8:29; 8:5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13, 14, 15). We can, and do, of course, reject the Spirit's leading, and sin. But the Spirit remains to convict us and lead us to repentance. (Rom. 2:5)

Some, though, refuse the biblical principles of Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, and continue in sin. This proactive sinful nature manifests itself in various ways: "fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery [or drug-taking], enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these." (Gal. 5:19, 20, 21) When Jesus calls you to love people (neighbors and perceived enemies), and you continually and unrepentantly express hatred toward anyone, in words and actions, you demonstrate to everyone the state of your unregenerate heart. The so-called Christians inciting violence toward LGBTQ people mentioned in the previous post demonstrate for the rest of us to see the unregenerate state of their hearts.

What do I mean by "persecute" with regard to political conservatives and the Religious Right toward the LGBTQ community. In this country, the "gay agenda" is one of fairness and equality legislatively, and political conservatives, many evangelicals and the Religious Right all contribute toward thwarting equality, refusing to grant protection laws against discrimination, and protesting Gay Pride parades or LGBTQ nightclubs and same-sex weddings. The word "persecute" refers not merely to overt violence resulting in death but also to oppressing or harassing "with ill-treatment, especially because of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or beliefs; to annoy persistently; bother." (link)

PERSECUTION AGAINST LGBTQ PERSONS

In this country, evangelicals and the Religious Right are not persecuted. They are neither oppressed nor harassed for their beliefs; but many of them expressly oppress, harass, and persecute LGBTQ persons. Many political conservatives, evangelicals, and Religious Right advocates are passive; they do not proactively oppress or harass LGBTQ people. But their silence against those who do is, simply, inexcusable! You cannot stand around while watching a defenseless kid get beat up, for example, not act on his behalf and expect to be patted on the back for not hitting the defenseless kid. I think those who incite violence and hatred against LGBTQ people are in no viable sense regenerate, even if exceptions are granted; but silent Christians are not innocent bystanders.

But imagine, if you will, hordes of LGBTQ people standing outside every conservative and/or evangelical church every Sunday morning with picket signs, some reading, "Bigots go to hell!" or "Homophobes deserve death!" Imagine enduring demeaning, degrading, and dehumanizing shouts while trying to enter your church, your Bible in hand, and hoping that none of the protesters will incite violence against you or throw anything at you.

This, friends, is what being LGBTQ is like in a politically conservative, evangelical, and Religious Right (think GOP) environment. This, friends, is why I write in this manner and so often. This is why men like Jeff Chu write books entitled Does Jesus Really Love Me? A Gay Christian's Pilgrimage in Search of God in America; he must because most LGBTQ people have been erroneously led to believe that God hates them, that Christ did not die for them but rejects them, and that the Church is their number one enemy. This, friends, is why denominations like The Episcopal Church, Churches of Christ, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Presbyterian Church (USA) et al. welcome and embrace the LGBTQ community.

These Christians understand that human sexuality and gender identity are not components of the Gospel of Christ and they fearfully refuse, unlike their evangelical counterparts, to add stipulations to the Gospel of Christ; they, like God in and through Christ, welcome all to the Kingdom of God, by grace through faith in Christ, to live and to love holy. In the mean time, those within the LGBTQ community and their advocates are forced into a cultural war that originated with political conservatives, evangelicals, and the Religious Right -- and so we stand our ground and fight. But we do not fight with our fists. We fight this ideological war, that they started and that they perpetuate, with Scripture and with reason.

ABOUT WILLIAM BIRCH

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My name is William Birch and I grew up in the Southern Baptist tradition but converted, if you will, to Anglicanism in 2012. I am gay, affirming, and take very seriously matters of social justice, religion and politics in the church and the state.