[Ed. Note — A shorter version of this commentary was originally published online in response to our Sept. 26 guest commentary by Stephen Lovegrove, “The problem of privilege at Elevation Church.” Read Lovegrove’s original commentary online at goqnotes-launch2.newspackstaging.com/31319/.]

As a Christian pastor who grew up evangelical, I know the theology about homosexuality I was raised with and I know all the things I’ve learned about theology, human sexuality, etc., since then. I have become deeply convicted that the Church has historically gotten it very wrong theologically on human sexuality — taking a small handful of verses and creating and enforcing a heteronormative theology and Church culture for 2,000+ years.

Homosexuality is not a sin, anymore than having blue eyes is a sin. Christianity has taken a few verses out of the entire Bible and constructed a horribly wrong theology of human sexuality that has been disproven. It’s a failed project! It’s time to jettison that way of thinking. In my understanding of the trajectory of the whole Bible, we’re not going back to the Garden of Eden, we’re going forward to the Kingdom of God, where there is no marriage (Matthew 22:30) and no gender (Galatians 3:28), so therefore no sexual orientation. In Christ, there is a new covenant of grace and love. We need to stop calling things impure what God has declared pure (Acts 10:15).

Thankfully there are Christian denominations and a growing number of evangelical churches that have seen the error of the old theology and have become “open and affirming” of all LGBTQ people. I liken it to Galileo going before the Pope to argue that the Earth was not the center of the universe. Remember that, for centuries, the Church had argued based on Scripture that the Earth was the center of the universe, but Galileo believed that the Sun was in fact the center of our universe. Galileo, at the time, was declared a heretic and excommunicated by the Church. Only centuries later did the Catholic Church apologize and admit it was wrong.

Christian churches that continue to hold onto a discriminatory theology against LGBTQ people are on the wrong side of history today. They want gay people to “convert” their sexual orientation (which has been proven to be a failed project, see Exodus International’s recent downfall) or remain celibate for the rest of their lives (as Steven Furtick’s sermon seems to suggest). Neither of these are legitimate options or even necessary.

New groups like The Reformation Project, Evangelicals for Marriage Equality, Canyonwalker Connections, etc., have formed and are growing to present an alternative theology and practice, even (and especially) for the evangelical church. Thank God it’s finally happening! There are churches where you can live out your faith without being treated like a second-class citizen. There are plenty of those churches in Charlotte. Search on gaychurch.org and you will find them. Please don’t stay in a toxic church environment like Elevation, where you are “less than.” That’s not the love of God. That’s not the Gospel Jesus preached. Stop supporting systems of oppression.

Thank you, Stephen Lovegrove, for your courage to walk away and call Elevation to a higher standard. : :

— Steve Knight (knightopia.com) is co-lead minister of Open Hearts Gathering, an open and affirming “dinner church” in Gastonia affiliated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) denomination. He does marketing for Chalice Press, and he is also co-founder and co-director of Transform, a national network of progressive missional churches and leaders.