Just like straight people, gay people are a diverse bunch. On one hand there are the drug-fuelled, sexually promiscuous party-goers, and on the other hand there are the couples in decades-long stable, faithful relationships. Because of that diversity you can’t look at one part of the spectrum and judge the whole continuum based on one small sample.
Similarly Christians are a diverse bunch. In Northern Ireland we have a number of big denominations – the Catholic Church, the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, the Church of Ireland, and the Methodist Church in Ireland. As well as those four, we have many smaller denominations, such as the Free Presbyterian Church, the Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church of Ireland, the Baptists, and the Christadelphians. There is even, on the Cliftonville Road, the Antiochian Orthodox Church of Saint Ignatius.
You can’t look at part of the Christian church and judge all of Christianity on one small sample. Even when the names of the denominations are similar, you will find huge differences: my husband and I are welcomed as members of a Non-Subscribing Presbyterian church, while one of the key protest groups at the annual Belfast Pride parade is organised by a minister from a Free Presbyterian church.
Today in Belfast, a group called CORE, a Christian group which supports “men and women with homosexual issues who voluntarily seek change in sexual preference”, is holding a one-day seminar at Belvoir Parish Church. A lot of LGBT people and their friends and families are very upset about this and are planning to protest outside.
Whether they mean to or not, CORE supports the idea that being gay is somehow a lesser option than being straight. They support the idea that being gay is a problem, something that can be fixed. In turn that idea harms gay people, sometimes very seriously.1 As a gay Christian, I do not support CORE. I don’t believe that the Bible says you can (or should) change your sexual orientation; as a matter of fact I believe that the Bible celebrates the love between Jonathan and David (which will be the core of my talk during Pride Week 2011). So, to gay people who are disgusted at Christianity because of CORE, I say this: don’t look at just that part of the Christian spectrum. Come to the Faith and Pride talk and see another part of Christianity. It is a part of Christianity that accepts and supports you for who you are, rather than pressuring you – even unintentionally – into changing your sexual orientation.
And to any Christians who are disgusted at gay people because of the protest at Belvoir today I say this: don’t just look at that part of the LGBT spectrum. Come to the Faith and Pride talk and see another part of the LGBT community. It is a part of the LGBT community that accepts God, Jesus Christ and the Bible just as readily as you do.
The Faith and Pride talk takes place on Sunday the 24 July at 7 p.m. in All Souls’ Church on Elmwood Avenue, Belfast.
1 Wayne Besen‘s book Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-gay Myth and the website Truth Wins Out describe the harm that therapy to change sexual orientation can cause.