The current conversation about LGBTQ folk and marriage is often a hurtful one.
The language, parameters of discourse, and level of compassion that are commonly present leave many deep spiritual and emotional scars for everyone involved.

I am thankful that language, discourse, and compassion are increasing throughout many areas in our churches in America. This has only happened under great duress, with sustained Christian service, worship, prayer, and spiritual warfare. There have also been many instances of violence both spiritual and physical in opposition to the Spirit’s work. I am thankful for the brave and committed Christian clergy and believers from all walks of life who have helped make our current progress possible.

I believe that through this process, we can discern what I believe will be a large factor in what will make the Church stronger and more Christly in the ensuing decades. I’ll sketch out some ideas below.

Romans 12:1-2 “I appeal to you therefore, siblings, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

This passage expresses to me how all Christians can be thankful for their LGBTQ fellow Christians. Through living their lives in worshipful reverence and not paying heed to the dominating heterosexism and socially created dualism of male/female, they set an honorable example for all to question the ‘doctrines’ of culture. Rather than submit to arbitrary and largely false cultural constraints of gender and sexual binaries, LGBTQ Christian folk can reveal to ‘anti-gay’ Christians that it is how we live our bodily existence, not the shape of or chemical makeup of our bodies that matters. Through a renewal of our mind, we all can begin to love and celebrate all people and never put constraints on how and who we love, desire, and commit ourselves to.

Christians of all walks can, through this area of discussion, question again what sin is. We must ask within the Church–if joy, love, vulnerability, sharing, sexual delight, and dignity are present between people is it sinful? We can look back to how previously Christians have railed against inter-racial marriage, inter-faith marriage, and inter-denominational marriage and used the Bible and language of sin and ask ourselves: were these people showing the love and life of Christ? Were they being led by the Spirit? This process of introspection will benefit the Body of Christ and lead to more Godly positions upon sin I believe.

Here is just two things I might add about marriage:
1) Jesus in Matt. 19:6 states that those who love and enjoy sex together should not be interfered with by others. “what God brings together–don’t let any ol’ judgmental hypocrite try to separate” He says in essence. I think that’s good advice. When love is in the picture only a fool would try to place themselves in opposition to it. Love is the greatest force humanity knows and it should be treated with reverence and awe.
2)  Hebrews 13:4 says marriage should be held in honor. All Christians can use the discussion about marriage to again address sexual oppression, violence and rape in marriage, domestic violence, family planning, familial child abuse and neglect among other dishonorable occurrences which are all too common. We can also reflect on Christian LGBTQ married folk who despite social criticism from some areas of culture have honored each other and marriage in their testimonies.

I am convinced that the full-inclusion and celebration of LGBTQ communities and individuals will become the norm within American church life. It may take time and it will definitely require the sustained work of Christians and allied people of faith and people of good conscience. So I am hopeful. But I am not only hopeful for LGBTQ folk. I am hopeful for the Christian Church at large–the Body of Christ, the Universal Church. I believe that through this transitional crises, opportunities for refocusing on Christ rather than Biblioatry, questioning again the nature of, source of, and effect of sin, and breaking down oppressive limitations of sex and gender will bear great fruit.

I want to close making some positive statements about my position using the resolution passed by the Baptist General Conference from their 1992 annual meeting titled “Beliefs about Homosexual Behavior and Ministering to Homosexual Persons” as a platform.

1) I believe that the Bible belongs to no one and its interpretation is free to all. We all have seen to many divisions, wars, schisms, and violences perpetrated with validation found within its pages by those claiming ‘true interpretation’. Any use of the Bible to demean, belittle, diminish, exclude, insult, or in any detract from the full joy of another is antithetical to a saintly life.
2) I believe that love and compassion are utmost valued dispositions of God. I believe all bodies no matter their identity: Intersex, Trans, GenderQueer, Bois, male, female, none of the above…are equally beautiful and holy. I believe that all sexualities, desires, attractions, sexual relationships where dignity, safety, and autonomy are present are to be celebrated. Those individuals who desire to undergo the ritual of marriage or its equivalents should in no way be hindered-this includes arrangements of plural marriage, open marriage, and marriages of ‘convenience’.
3) I believe that all people are loved and cherished by the Divine and are permeated with and dwell fully in the life of God. I believe that all people have the right to claim the identity of Christian and express their Christianity in any way that remains compassionate, loving, forgiving, vulnerable, and respectful. I believe that diversities of Christian doctrine, dogma, and life do not intimidate God and Christians can learn from all faiths, denominations, and secularists to become more saintly.
4) I believe that sin is ever present in an imperfect world comprised of imperfect people. I believe that sin and its effects can be lessened through vulnerability, humility, compassion, service, self-sacrifice, renunciations of greed and materialism, love, respect, responsibility, reverence for the environment and living beings. I believe that through close relationships of mutual trust and vulnerability, sin will diminish.
5) I believe that all people and living beings deserve full dignity, care, concern, respect, and reverence. I believe that it is hypocritical and doubleminded to affirm this and state that a person’s sexual life or erotic being is ‘less than’.
6) I believe that all Christian churches and institutions should celebrate and honor all people. I believe that all gender/sex identities should be allowed to serve the Church as clergy–with saintliness and service being requisite, not designations of body or attraction. I believe that no one should be refused ordinances, services, rituals, or positions of leadership because of designations of body or attraction.

Yours in hope, love, and peace–
Ryan McGivern

Link to the Baptist Affirmation cited above and used as a platform: