In countless news stories, we’re seeing that Evangelical Christians are slowly but increasingly accepting inclusive theology with regard to LGBTQ issues in the church and society. This is obviously a good thing, but as it’s been happening, I’ve noticed something troubling. Many of these conservative Evangelicals who are now calling for greater acceptance of LGBTQ people, and even allowing gay ordained leaders like myself, have been berating us progressive Christians for years – claiming that we don’t really value the Christian scriptures, and that we’ve simply thrown the Bible out in rush to conform to social whims. They’ve accused us of seeing the Bible as just a quaint storybook that holds little relevance to people today. This charge is nonsense, of course, but it still continues to be made. But now, ironically enough, we’re seeing more and more Evangelicals turning to and adopting the exact same rigorous, scholarly arguments supporting inclusive theology that were first made by those supposedly misguided, faux-Christian progressives.
Don’t misunderstand me – I’m glad that my fellow Christians are coming to accept an inclusive gospel But I have to admit that every time I see a story about yet another big-name Evangelical leader having this supposed epiphany, I have a slight sense of how a Native American must feel when hearing stories about Columbus “discovering” America. After dealing with years of Evangelical attacks on my progressive, inclusive theology, I grow weary now whenever I see yet another book, podcast, or DVD boxed-set Bible study for sale, presenting those exact same arguments – but which are now apparently more acceptable, and marketable, because they’ve been wrapped in an Evangelical dust jacket.
I want my Evangelical brothers and sisters to accept an inclusive theology. But after they do, you know what I want to hear from them? Just this:
“LGBTQ folks, you were right. We were wrong. We’re sorry for all the damage our erroneous beliefs have caused, and we want to work now to put an end to the harm. We love you and accept you, just as you are – no ‘love the sinner, hate the sin;” because there’s no sin here to hate. We apologize. We repent. And we ask your forgiveness.”
That’s what I want to hear.
And then I want them to sit down, be quiet, and humbly get on with the work of reconciliation, keeping the focus more on those who have been hurt, and less on the self-serving prime time interviews and book deals.
My Evangelical brothers and sisters, I’m glad you’re gradually showing up at the party of inclusive Christianity. I might wonder what took you so long to get here, but ultimately, we’re all on our own personal journey and timeline. So I sincerely welcome you with love and open arms, and say “Come on in, the water’s fine!” Just don’t act like you built the pool.