As a child of the Christian Church and an active Christian minister in the Baptist tradition (the Alliance of Baptists), I want to commend the coalition of LGBT groups that traveled to the Southern Baptist Convention this week in order to meet with the President of that large religious body. Coalition members took an action more in the tradition of Jesus than the actions of the group with whose representatives they met – initiating civil dialogue, laying a foundation for understanding, seeking a strategy for protecting the welfare of young people, and requesting ongoing conversations. My dear friend Mitchell Gold spoke like a contemporary prophet to people who claim to want to hear the Word of God, whatever its source. I hope and pray that he was heard.
For far too long, many leaders in Christian churches have insisted on reading the Bible solely in a “textual” manner – through which a few isolated passages are frequently misinterpreted in overly literal ways – at the expense of being “Biblical” – seeking to embody and express the love commended throughout the Bible – thereby divorcing that love from words and deeds that demonize people in the LGBT community by telling them that their very identity, their creation in God’s image, is evil. It is time for such harm to be stopped.
I am grateful for the initiative taken by representatives of the LGBT community to speak truth to the largest denomination of Baptists in America. And I long for signs of such an interest in mutual understanding and personal healing on the part of the Christian community in relation to LGBT people.