LGBTQ+ Christians: Devotion in the Face of Hate
Reported by Alicia Pacheco
(Note: Names have been changed to protect the identities of those featured)
LGBTQ+ Christians have become an increasingly vocal group who are changing the church from the inside. Staying devoted to a group that generally does not accept the identity or sexuality of LGBTQ+ people is inevitably challenging, and usually results in a denial of the part of the person that does not meet whatever standards of Christianity are being imposed on them or in a loss or questioning of their faith.
Those who keep their faith, who stay devoted to God while refusing to deny who they are, often face questioning from both their LGBTQ+ atheist peers and their heterosexual and cisgender peers. Reconciling these two parts of a person can be a constant battle, especially as many Christians view the two as wholly incompatible.
Kelly, a Christian transgender woman, said, “In all honesty, I would say that being transgender has ultimately brought me much closer to Christ.”
Through Kelly’s in-depth study of her faith and the Bible in the past few years, she has found the answers that previously caused her to doubt the validity of her gender dysphoria and ultimately made her apprehensive toward God.
She believes the most important distinction is the difference between Christianity and Biblicism. A Biblicist would not affirm the LGBTQ+ community.
Biblicists interpret the Bible literally, seeing the Bible as a divine manuscript from God, rather than what it is: a book written by people.
Kelly has no problem reconciling her faith with her gender identity because she believes that a true disciple of Christ can and should be affirming of transgender people. Jesus Himself became frustrated with the Biblicism he saw in the Pharisees.
Jesus often challenged literal views of the Bible.
Therefore, when “Christians” cite the Bible as a way to invalidate Kelly’s gender identity, she understands these Christians to be misinterpreting the Bible, and both Kelly’s faith and gender identity remain valid.
However, Kelly’s assurance in both her faith and gender identity does not make the experience of being a transgender Christian any easier. “Unfortunately, I feel that most Christians are Biblicists at heart, and thus I often feel that I have to hide from the world,” she said.
Kelly, for the most part, is not open about her gender identity amongst Christians in her community. She feels terrified of most Christians and, hiding under the mask of her male body and typical male dress, she feels uncomfortable in her inability to be honest.
Within her mostly Christian community, Kelly has no outlet for gender expression. She feels alienated and alone.
The challenges of being both LGBTQ+ and Christian are inevitable in the divisive society that holds the two as enemies. Though it is inevitably hard, it is the devotion to both God and staying true to self that motivates Kelly to slowly work towards being open about her gender identity while her faith remains strong.
Betty, a bisexual Christian woman, is still trying to make sense of this dilemma. She has come to accept her sexuality and does not want to reject the Christianity that she still holds dear, but struggles to reconcile the two.
She recognizes the Old Testament as stating that homosexuality is wrong and decidedly understands that Jesus came to abolish these extraneous laws. Still, Betty struggles to reconcile these two beliefs.
“The hard part for me personally is the fact that these laws are still put into the Bible, so they are there for a reason.”
As much as Betty struggles with the details of her faith and the stigma against homosexuality that exists much too prevalently in her church, she has never considered that her faith was incorrect. She remains devoted, believing that Jesus came to love everyone, and that includes her regardless of her sexuality.
Kelly and Betty are far from the only LGBTQ+ Christians out there. There are whole communities of LGBTQ+ Christians trying to enact change and make themselves known.
The Gay Christian Network and The Reformation Project work to transform attitudes about LGBTQ+ people across denominations and promote inclusion of LGBTQ+ people by reforming church teaching on sexual orientation and gender identity. These groups are not going unheard. The existence and the voices of these LGBTQ+ Christians are challenging evangelical Christian culture and making a place for themselves in the Christian church through their unyielding devotion to God.