Australian Christians to apologise and reconcile with the LGBTQ community

According to Buzzfeed News, a group of conservative Christians and former conservatives have come together to offer an apology to LGBTQ people who’ve been harmed by churches.

Equal Voices  aims to confront the failures of Christians to respond to LGBTQ people justly and “be reconciled with one another in the Body of Christ”. An apology is a top priority.

The Apology

The apology covers the following points:

  1. For being too slow to acknowledge that we need to say sorry to you.
  2. For not speaking up against the hurtful, damaging, and often violent mistreatment you have been subjected to
  3. For speaking about you, without listening to you.
  4. For not creating safe environments within our churches where people can speak openly and honestly about their struggles and understandings
  5. For perpetuating stereotypes, and for not taking full account of your actual lived experiences
  6. For talking to you or about you in a way as to suggest that sexual and/ or gender differences are not a part of your true identity as creatures made in the image of God, but are simply a result of brokenness or sin.
  7. For perpetuating the mistaken belief that non – heterosexual orientations should be treated, healed and changed and for not acknowledging the damage such misunderstandings have wrought in peoples’ lives
  8. For not acknowledging that Christians who are seeking to be faithful to their Lord and to the Scriptures are coming to different conclusions on matters of gender, sexual orientation and marriage

One member has committed to:

  1. Honour and support LGBTQ people in any way possible
  2. Be open to gentle correction and guidance
  3. Hold others to account for harmful words or actions
  4. Resist efforts to “other” or exclude LGBTQ people
  5. Engage in genuine conversation to gain perspectives of LGBTQ people

The apology will be posted on the Equal Voices website from the first of March. People will then asked sign the statement.

 

These points, especially number six, are huge. This signals a massive shift in the Church regarding LGBTQ people.This could be the start of a healing and a bridge being built between Christians and the LGBTQ community. Finally, LGBTQ Christians will feel safe, regardless of whether they attend a progressive or Evangelical church.

While it is a great step forward, I wonder what it’ll mean for Christians politically. Many Evangelical churches have closely aligned themselves with conservative political parties and lobby groups, including the Australian Christian Lobby. Recently, Activate Church in Adelaide separated themselves from Australian Christian Churches (formerly Assemblies of God) – the denomination that includes Hillsong – to fully support the LGBTQ community. The pastor of Hillsong Church, Brian Houston has come under fire for not allowing openly LGBTQ people to serve in the Church.

I don’t think anyone should expect all conservative Christians to jump on this. No doubt, the ones that have raised their voices about this do so knowing that they’ll pay a great price. Many Evangelical, and former Evangelical Christians, such as America’s Rob Bell, have paid greatly when coming out in support of the LGBTQ community. So this is no small feat!

I think this is so positive. Soon, LGBTQ people will be able to worship, rest and be a part of a church without their identity being a barrier. Finally, people in church will be able to enter, knowing that they don’t have to hide. They won’t have to sit through a sermon feeling like they don’t belong, that, despite their belief and their heart for God, that they are not enough. Also, I believe that this will be a start of a healing for the Church as well -= a healing of a damaged reputation, a healing from the harmful stereotypes that have plagued the Church and the Church will be allowed to shine their light for ALL people and to have the ability to fulfil the Great Commission, without the message falling on deaf ears and being slammed as “hypocritical”.The likelihood of all Christians embracing this new acceptance now is slim, still. But, it’s a step forward and should be acknowledged. So, for those involved in the EqualVoices movement, good on you for taking courage and thank you for doing so.

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