“I’m gay, and I’m Christian.”
Depending on my context, both of these declarations have the potential to feel rather controversial, even alienating. Especially once I say that I’m a Baptist! There are looks of shock or pity and, I suspect, assumptions that I’m self-hating. After all, the loudest Baptist voices aren’t the Welcoming and Affirming ones.
I can understand the confusion. I’ve come to accept much of what I and many who identify as LGBTQ experience is spiritual abuse. That’s hard to realize, though now that I have I’m able to be more healthy in how I deal with it. It still hurts, but I no longer internalize the attacks.
How can I still say with pride that I’m a Christian, a Baptist?
I could talk at some length about the beauty of “autonomy of the local church.” However, the real reason is that when I was struggling with my sexuality and all that would mean, I had a supportive and loving Baptist church family. Even as I received abuse and estrangement from one quarter, the people of my church offered me community, support, and a place to continue being active in the life of the church.
We can talk about Baptist values, and we should. But it is much more important that we live out these values, to borrow from a member of my church, that we love without buts.
You should see what happens when people learn I love Leviticus...
"Sandy Rogers is a member of Ginter Park Baptist Church, though currently living and studying the Hebrew Bible in Leipzig, Germany. Ordained at 20, at the time it was a significant step for the small Baptist church to ordain a woman. However, when she came out at 30, she was forced to resign her ordination. Three years later, this has not yet been remedied, but she is confident that it will be. She sees her call as to teach a love and appreciation of the Bible that recognizes and respects the various voices within the text, the historical setting, and the struggles to understand who God is and what it means to be God's people. She is currently working with Leviticus and Deuteronomy and is well aware how odd a bird her love for Leviticus makes her."