For the last 76 years, evangelicals have been using the Bible as a sacred weapon to oppress LGBTQ people.
While many people are under the impression that the word “homosexuality” has “always been in the Bible,” the reality is that the words malakoi and arsenokoitai first were combined into the word “homosexuality” in a 1946 edition of the Revised Standard Version, causing a mistranslation that has shaped a culture and influenced widespread harm and discrimination to LGBTQ people for seven decades.
An expert researcher and strong ally to the LGBTQ community, Kathy Baldock at Canyonwalker Connections has done extensive research to uncover this data and will soon be publishing her findings in her forthcoming book Forging a Sacred Weapon. This will release in conjunction with the documentary 1946 (directed by Sharon “Rocky” Roggio and executive produced by Daniel Karslake) that chronicles how the misuse of a single word changed the course of modern history.
In educating people about this mistranslation, the hope is to change the narrative and end the harm being done to queer people in the name of God.
For far too long, hate has masqueraded as love, and intolerance has masqueraded as “all are welcome,” causing countless LGBTQ people to walk away not only from their churches, but from Christianity all together.
Often accused of leaving “because they know what they are doing is wrong” the reality is, they are just trying to survive. Internalized homophobia has been programmed into them from infancy and grown deep roots over time, manifesting as shame and self-hatred and all too often resulting in self-harm, suicide attempts and suicide completions.
“The time for these systems to crumble is long overdue, and people’s literal lives hang in the balance.”
Statements such as, “I love you, but…” and “Love the sinner, hate the sin” are rooted in lack of education, lack of exposure, and fear, but cause lethal harm. The patriarchy embedded in evangelicalism has done whatever it must to keep white men in power, leaving everyone else unseen at best and at its worst, dead. The time for these systems to crumble is long overdue, and people’s literal lives hang in the balance.
In addition to LGBTQ people and allies doing research to debunk toxic myths and inform the critical need for a cultural change of LGBTQ inclusion in churches, we’re also beginning to see a movement of queer Christians rising up and reclaiming their right to belong. LGBTQ people of faith are tired of getting pushed to the margins, told they’re not fit to lead, and that simply because of who they are or who they love, they are intrinsically less worthy of the love of God.
Just a decade ago, most LGBTQ Christians still were isolated from one another, feeling alone in their pain as outcasts. But with the use of the internet and social media, they are finding each other. They are realizing they are not alone, and they are uniting and coming together to start a reformation and reclamation of belonging in the family of God.
Recently, Q Worship Collective held its first Q Worship conference gathering worship leaders from all over the country who were cast out of their churches simply for being queer. Incredible talent that was pushed outside church doors and left dormant for years is now being revitalized. They are reclaiming worship, writing music with inclusive lyrics, building community, and forming a fresh way of approaching faith that celebrates diversity and affirms everyone.
“Whether you want to acknowledge the existence of LGBTQ people in your church or not, the reality is that they are there.”
Flamy Grant — an evangelical poster child turned drag queen — is on a mission to reclaim faith spaces for queer people and defy religious gatekeepers who try to define who belongs in the church. They dropped their first single “What Did You Drag Me Into?” this week, which will be on their debut album Bible Belt Baby coming Sept. 23.
The music video, which depicts a drag show in church, is intended to be a bit provocative, Grant says. But more than that, it’s holding a mirror up to the church and saying “we belong here.” It’s a celebration of queer joy in a sacred space.
What evangelicals see as their worst nightmare comes from that place of fear-based ignorance. There is nothing sinful or scary about a drag queen. The reality is that drag queens are a beautiful representation of the diversity of God — a God who is beyond gender, full of joy and life. God’s love isn’t stagnant or one dimensional. It’s multi-faceted, it’s full of color, it’s diverse and alive and something to be celebrated. The LGBTQ community represents that in such beautiful ways and serves as a reminder to continually expand our box and our understanding of the divine.
The church is queer. Whether you want to acknowledge the existence of LGBTQ people in your church or not, the reality is that they are there, watching and listening to how you respond and treat them. And the day when we are finally able to embrace queer people for the vital part of the body of Christ that they really are is the day that reconciliation between queer people and the church can finally begin.
Amber Cantorna grew up in the deeply conservative evangelical culture of Focus on the Family and now advocates for equality everywhere. She is a national speaker, the author of Refocusing My Family and Unashamed: A Coming Out Guide for LGBTQ Christians, and host of the Unashamed Book Club. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and learn more about her work at AmberCantorna.com.
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