LGBT Parents & Allies

Operating Like Jesus: Discrimination Is Not A Christian Value

by Marie Alford-Harkey

It’s no wonder that my LGBT friends have often questioned my sanity when I have talked about my Christian faith. They were even more surprised when I eventually decided to go to seminary. Why would I want to be part of a religion that has caused LGBT people so much pain, and that has contributed to LGBT youth suicides and broken families and outright persecution of LGBT people?

My answer was and is simple: that is not Christianity.

I want to be a part of the voice of real Christianity that is focused on following Jesus. I want to be a part of God’s mission of wholeness and justice for all people. I want to help people understand that being a person of faith does not mean being intolerant and bigoted.

But as a Christian activist for sexual justice, I’ve discovered a problem. When LGBT Christians ask for justice, we are often shamed by other Christians. We’re told, contrary to what Lilla Watson said, that our liberation is NOT bound up with others’. We are told that other justice issues like poverty, or immigration, or hunger are more important than LGBT equality as if those issues aren’t our issues too.

President Obama has announced his intention to issue an executive order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT people in their hiring practices. Shortly after, on July 1, a group of faith leaders who are generally close to the President wrote to him, urging him to include a religious exemption in his executive order. They wrote, “…[W]e are asking that an extension of protection for one group not come at the expense of faith communities whose religious identity and beliefs motivate them to serve those in need.”

They aren’t the only ones. A group of 125 religious leaders organized by the National Association of Evangelicals sent a letter to President Obama on June 25 asking for a religious exemption. And the media reported that Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners, was gathering a group of faith leaders to send a private letter to President Obama arguing this executive order “would create many problems for the important work faith-based communities.”

Let me say this clearly: Discrimination is not a Christian value.

LGBT equality does not come at the expense of Christian communities whose religious identity and beliefs motivate them to serve those in need. It does come at the expense of so-called Christian communities whose identity and beliefs motivate them to choose discrimination over serving those in need. If you choose discrimination over helping people who need food or shelter or clothing or medical care or anything else that you can provide, that’s on you.

As I said back in 2011 when Sojourners refused to run the Believe Out Loud video for Mother’s Day:

I can’t abide this zero-sum mentality that we can’t possibly focus on poverty, war, food insecurity, AND equal rights. Because that kind of thinking is not Jesus-thinking.

Jesus-thinking is this: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10) Jesus-thinking reminds us that there is enough—enough grace to forgive our enemies, enough bread to feed the crowd, enough love to sacrifice our very selves for the greater good.

Those of us who are working for God’s realm on earth have to stick together when we can because it’s hard, dangerous, risky work. It’s hard to trust that there really is enough love and justice to go around.

But there is enough love and justice to go around, and justice is not served unless we are working for everyone’s liberation.

That’s how Jesus operated, and so should we. 

I am grateful that 98 civil rights leaders and 100 other faith leaders, including the president of the Religious Institute, have sent their own letters to President Obama outlining a truly Christian position on LGBT employment discrimination.

As Rev. Dr. Katharine Rhodes Henderson, president of Auburn Theological Seminary, said, “A growing multifaith movement of religious leaders is helping the faithful understand how religious teachings and texts compel acceptance—and celebration—of LGBT people and relationships, not rejection.”

Nothing less is acceptable. Nothing less is Christian.

Join our chorus of Christians as together, we proclaim: discrimination is not a Christian value! Pledge today to end discrimination against LGBT people.

Photo via flickr user More Good Foundation

Comments (5)

Sharon Boudreaux

Amen. I can only say Amen,
Amen. I can only say Amen, and thank you for blessing me your thoughts. God Bless!

Keith Patterson

Thank you for reminding us of
Thank you for reminding us of the true heart of Jesus’ experience amongst us and what Jesus modeled. Jesus language does work from a place of abundance-there is always enough rather than too little


You don’t need to be
You don’t need to be religious to support doing good. It’s religion that justifies discrimination. Christianity supported slavery, it supported segregation, it opposed womens’ suffrage, it opposed equal rights for blacks. Today it opposes LGBT rights. I’m not an expert on Christian theology, but I can look at the leading voices of Christianity in this country and see a pattern. How do you know that you are in the right and they are in the wrong?


No knowledge of Christian
No knowledge of Christian theology is needed to see how the Christians here sharing message of love and acceptance might be more in the right than the Christians promoting hatred and discrimination. Just because the leading voices of any group preach hatred does not mean that others within the group shouldn’t speak out against it. Whether I am in the right or in the wrong, I choose to promote love and acceptance, and if I turn out to be wrong, that’s on me. That’s a chance I’m willing to take.

teri villars

wonderful! please feel free
wonderful! please feel free to join my page above, Christ for Transgender on Facebook and i would love to see u post there! love, teri

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