I have tried numerous times to synthesize my thoughts on the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in 303 Creative vs. Elenis, where a 6-3 majority ruled that a website designer could deny services to a same-sex couple based on her religious beliefs.
There are myriad problems with the court’s ruling — the terrible precedent it sets, the rote bigotry and the fact that the woman who brought the suit likely never was asked to create a wedding website for a same-sex couple. However, my primary thoughts have centered on the deep pain evangelical Christian nationalists continue to inflict upon me and the rest of the LGBTQ community in the name of Jesus.
In response to these continued attacks, I have noticed a strong backlash in the LGBTQ community against the church and even religion in general. My initial reaction to this backlash is defensiveness: After all, I am gay and also a Christian and I strongly believe these are not mutually exclusive identities. However, when I take a pause, my heart breaks for my community and I find myself deeply sympathetic to the anger and the pushback.
In the name of Jesus, the church and some of its members have been persecuting those who are different from “the norm” since Christ ascended. However, over the last 50 years, the church’s ire has been particularly trained toward the LGBTQ community. It seemed we had made so much progress lately — and to be sure, we have made a lot of progress —however, as with every social movement, progress is followed by reactionary pushback.
From Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” legislation that is already expanding its scope, to numerous bans on trans athletes in sports, to the use of the term “groomer” to refer to anyone in the LGBTQ community, to gunmen committing mass murder at gay nightclubs, the Right’s attempts to undo the progress of the LGBTQ community and to push us back into the closet have been swift and ferocious. Just this week, a hair salon in Michigan said they would deny service to members of the “TQ+” community because of the Supreme Court ruling.
All in Jesus’ name.
“We need a stronger counternarrative coming from the church.”
We need a stronger counternarrative coming from the church. Moderate and progressive Christians must stand up and make clear in no uncertain terms that the LGBTQ community is fearfully and wonderfully made.
Moderate and progressive Christians must demonstrate there are alternative ways to interpret Scripture apart from the “inerrant” heresy that has gripped the evangelical movement.
Moderate and progressive Christians must join hand-in-hand with members of the LGBTQ community in Pride marches and in protests against unjust laws and judicial rulings.
Moderate and progressive Christians must use their political power to promote politicians and policies that fight for the ones Jesus spent his time with and talked about most, “the least of these.”
Moderate and progressive Christians must proclaim the radically inclusive gospel of Jesus Christ that not only tolerates the LGBTQ community but that welcomes them in and affirms them as exactly how God made them to be.
Gavin McCollum received a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Arkansas and a master of divinity degree from Duke Divinity School. He currently serves in lay leadership at Second Baptist Church in downtown Little Rock, Ark.