[Ed. Note — This commentary was submitted to qnotes on Sept. 27 as a comment in response to Dr. Michael Brown’s Sept. 27 commentary, “Sharing God’s goodness is never a failure.” It has been edited for brevity and clarity.]
Dr. Michael Brown insists he is reaching out with “love.” The water bottles he says his group passed out in 2011 did have the “Jesus Loves You” message on them, but also had a link to a site directing people to Exodus International for reparative therapy. The bottles might as well have said, “Oh, come let me hug you in Christian love and stab you in the back with razors telling you that you must change for God to accept you.” Of course, Exodus is now closed after 37 years of not changing orientation and reparative therapy is stated as harmful by medical health professionals. All that aside — Jesus DOES love you.
I spoke to the man who protested at Brown’s church and had dinner with Brown. He paints a tolerant picture. But, I wonder if Brown has followed up at all to establish relationship with that couple? As far as I know, the answer is no. But, golly, we sure do hear about the one dinner an awful lot.
Brown talks alot about being among his gay and lesbian Christian brothers and sisters and his outreach to them. But, if he is truly desirous of such a relationship, has he ever truly reachd out? There are many LGBT-inclusive churches. You can find many at gaychurch.org/find_a_church/. No invitation is needed you just show up. In writing his book, as far as I could see Brown had never attended a service affirming of his gay brothers and sisters. That seems to be a rather large oversight when someone writes a chapter on “queer theology.” I would strongly encourage Brown to visit several of these congregation as he prepares to write a book asserting that people cannot be both gay and Christian and in a mutual relationship.
Brown says he is approaching the subject with compassion. I would suggest that he also approach the subject with some knowledge, and some input put from gay Christians and that includes experience and sitting down to make them for more than one meal. It includes building relationship and listening to people. I do not hear of ongoing stories of relationships with LGBT people; I hear the same ones over and over — a person on a plane, the person at an airport, a meal with one person.
This is not how you build relationship with the community. This is not how you come to understand where they are in their theology and relationships with God. This is not the basis from which one should be writing a book.
It is often from the insights of relationship that one is able to revisit Scripture. With the cultural lenses of discrimination removed, and with the personal insights that relationship with gay people does bring it becomes apparent when one does revisit the scripture that there is a more accurate reading of Scripture then has been present in the last 40 years in the conservative church, with respect to the gay community. : :
— Kathy Baldock writes at canyonwalkerconnections.com and is an advocate for LGBT-inclusive faith communities.