Conversations Will Move Christians Towards LGBT Welcome

by Gwen Ashby

Two weeks into our campaign to join A Million People for LGBT-Inclusive Christianity, Believe Out Loud has reached its first milestone, topping 10,000 online members. Perhaps even more significantly, we have sparked conversations in new places about the role of LGBT equality in the wider “progressive Christian” movement. Aided in part by Sojourners’ decision not to accept our paid advertising, more than 75 news articles and blog posts have been written on the subject, and thousands have joined the dialogue via comment threads on facebook, youtube and various websites.

Dialogue is perhaps the most essential element for transforming our churches and society. Transformation suggests a journey – an awakening that lands the traveler at a destination altogether different from his or her launching point. It is this journey, begun with a simple conversation, that Believe Out Loud encourages and supports: we have dozens of resources on our website to help pastors, congregational leaders and concerned individuals engage in this process.

Last week, we had an instructive “conversational moment” on our Believe Out Loud facebook page.  With remarkable consistency, comments on facebook have been positive, non-judgmental, even inspiring.  But last week, we had a series of three negative remarks from three different users in a matter of minutes. Our policy in such situations is to post a reminder of our LGBT-inclusive beliefs and to encourage conversations that are respectful. If users continue to be hurtful, we remove them from the forum. In this instance, we in fact, did so with two of the three negative posters.

The third? Well, an extraordinary and surprising thing happened. In the course of a few posts, this user – whose initial comment was as hateful as the other two – confessed to being raised in a strict household but was now trying to “find my own belief with God” and that she was sorry for being hurtful. She went on to share that she would visit the Believe Out Loud website to learn more.

Transformative? Did this incident mark the beginning of a journey towards new understanding? We cannot say. Just like we cannot predict how the wider conversations about the role of LGBT justice in progressive Christianity may ultimately resolve. But, at Believe Out Loud, we are deeply committed to the process of respectful dialogue and engagement on issues of human sexuality, inclusive welcome in our congregations and a fair and just society. This is what we believe, out loud.

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