Guest post by James Prescott, bringing an awesome end to this month's series of queer-related blog posts.
We can often get lulled into the myth that life is a popularity contest. Even if, unlike many of us, you’re not a people pleaser by nature, much of the story consumerism sells is that it’s important to perform. To impress. To be popular and liked by as many as possible. Indeed, the more the better.
However, the reality is life isn’t a popularity contest.
The people who create real change weren’t always as popular in their time as they were subsequently.
Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, William Wilberforce. All are high-profile, extreme examples. One murdered, another imprisoned for 26 years, the other ignored and defeated many, many times whilst trying to pass an anti-slavery bill. All for standing up for just causes. All of them proved right in their actions.
Because sometimes making real change, standing up for the right causes, means risking ridicule or unpopularity.
We must be willing to risk unpopularity in exchange for standing up for truth. And I’ve recently taken this risk myself by coming out as a Christian straight ally.
The LGBT issue, particularly in relation to faith, is a cause I had no prior link to, no reason to take a stand for, no personal or family-related reasons to even care about.
I myself am straight, and until recently had very few personal friends I saw regularly who were part of the LGBT community. But I have always been passionate about identity, and concerned about any people group undergoing persecution for simply trying to be the person they were created to be. My writing in relation to gender equality is part of this. And so in hindsight, it’s very natural I would get drawn to this issue.
I’ve been writing a lot more about my own journey in relation to this on my own blog, but wanted to share this story with another audience--principally because I wanted to speak to the LGBT community--including Liz--and say there are straight Christians out there who are on your side. Who will make you welcome in church. Who will support you, encourage you, and welcome you.
The journey for me really began with a discomfort in my own heart about the traditional church view on the subject. I never questioned the traditional view until about 7 or 8 years ago--but I always felt uncomfortable with it. And as I began to hear stories of how this theology was impacting people’s lives--mental illness, self-harming, suicides--I began to have serious doubts about non-affirming theology.
I had also never really examined the scriptures properly on the issue. So I took a serious look at the 7 or so verses (out of 31,000 or so verses in the Bible, there are seven--seven--on this issue in total).
And as I examined the actual passages in their historical context, the themes of the books/chapters/verses, the actual words used, the audience for these books, and everything else, it became abundantly clear the ‘traditional’ or non-affirming theology had no foundation in scripture whatsoever.
As I saw this, I felt a peace in my heart on this subject I’d not previously felt. The affirming theology fitted with a God of grace, mercy and unconditional love, who accepts us as we are--whatever our gender or sexuality. It was as if I’d always deep down believed this affirming theology, but now had proper ‘grounds’ for it.
And above all, I knew with even more certainty that the non-affirming theology, whose fruit was mental illness and suicide wasn’t a theology of the spirit of God. It couldn’t be.
And thus, I became a straight ally. A straight person advocating for LGBT rights, and in my own context, especially LGBT equality in church.
As part of this work in the UK, I’ve been invited to be part of an ongoing dialogue with other Christians, bloggers, and thinkers about a healthy way forward for the church in relation to the LGBT community.
It’s been a tough time, trying to reconcile whether I should take this stand. I’m aware this subject provokes much debate amongst many. I am also aware my speaking out may cause me to lose readers and followers.
But as I have reflected on this, the more I have known I was called to speak the truth. To take a stand. My desire is not to cause controversy, or to provoke people. It never has, and never will be.
My desire is to bring reconciliation. To act in love. To speak what I believe is the truth.
I want to send a message to the LGBT community, including all those who feel afraid to go to church, or feel excluded by God.
God loves you.
God accepts you.
You are welcome at His table and in His community.
As you are. Right now. Gay, straight, bisexual, transgender, or questioning. Whatever your sexual preference, however you label yourself in relation to gender or sexuality, you are welcome at God’s table as you are, and loved infinitely as you are.
No matter what anyone else may tell you.
I recognise many of you may not be able to find a church which accepts you right now. But do not give up on God. God has not given up on you, nor forgotten you, or rejected you. You are not condemned for fundamental part of who you are.
You are loved. Remembered. Accepted. Right now. Today. As you are.
And you are not alone. There are straight allies out there. And we are with you.
James Prescott is a writer & author from Sutton, near London in the UK. He blogs regularly on authenticity, calling, identity, & LGBT equality, and is a straight ally. Follow him on Twitter at @JamesPrescott77 & find him online at