I am sitting in perhaps the most beautiful hotel I’ve ever stayed in, or perhaps even walked in! The blessing of attending the Revoice Conference again this year is not lost on me. I am humbled to sit amongst brothers and sisters, most of whom are sexual minorities, and listen, learn and walk alongside. Words are hard for me to find to describe the privilege I feel at being welcomed here.
I wrote following last year’s conference about the incredible hospitality I felt as a straight person coming into a space meant to foster community and flourishing amongst Side B Christians (Christians who are attracted to the same sex and hold to the historical sexual ethic of the church). If that’s a new term to you, you can get caught up to speed here with a bit more nuance.
Last year prior to the conference, almost accidentally, I came across some criticism of the mission of Revoice from conservative Christians (the same way that I would identify myself). I was aghast! Working full time at a summer camp does not leave time to stay caught up with current events so I was so saddened to spend an hour or so reading these criticisms.
These criticism centered around two big thoughts:
A Christian should never refer to themselves as “gay” because identity should first be centered in Christ.
And this group of Christians that refers to themselves as “gay” definitely should not gather together (slippery slope) and discuss ‘flourishing’.
Many of you reading this would also say that you fall on the conservative end of the church and wonder why I feel privileged to be at a conference that has lingering questions surrounding it. And as you read the above concerns, perhaps you resonate with them.
Let me tell you why and then I hope to challenge you to do some reading and listening.
First, for a 53 year old straight woman, I’ve had the awesome opportunity to listen, learn, and walk alongside a large number of Side B Christians. I have been changed, humbled, and proud to be called “friend”. These folks in my life have taught me what it means to live a daily life of sacrifice because of calling. It’s challenged me to examine exactly where I’m doing any sacrificing for my calling. It’s brought up a contrast for me in what the church generally calls people to in terms of obedience and what the church calls same sex attracted Christians to.
I have watched obedience being costly.
I have watched obedience being a calling and a lifestyle.
I have watched a serious obedience that changes decisions, changes living situations, and changes daily choices.
And I have wanted to live a life of obedience to a greater degree because of these friends.
Also, I have watched these friends pursue community as a necessity. We all talk about community, but few of us really allow our lives to intersect in deep and meaningful ways with those in our small groups or Sunday School classes. We see each other weekly but our normal routine of life does not cross paths. For sexual minorities called to live single and celibate, these relationships have a different quality. “Chosen family” is valuable when you believe you will not marry and have your own “family”. The same applies for any single people in our churches regardless of why they are single.
The truth is that scripture calls us family and that should change the way that we live.
But my average experience in church does not flesh that out.
For these, and a host of other reasons, I am proud to sit in this space that has caused some controversy.
And I would challenge you to listen to the speakers from Revoice 18, do some reading on the Spiritual Friendship blog, read some books, and educate yourself.