Churches Should Affirm Not Welcome

I recently shared an article on my facebook timeline titled, “ The Difference Between a Welcoming Church and an Affirming One Is Huge.” Click here to read it. A friend commented and brought up a good point: the author didn’t really talk about the difference between the two types of churches but just rather their experience in just a “welcoming” church. Here’s where I come in! 

Over all, my experience in church has been good. Nothing overtly negative has been expressed to me, so I’ve been a lucky one. There were times when I would walk into a church and feel the immense pressure to fit in and not upset the norm. Maybe there were hushed whispers about me and the outfit I chose to wear that day or my tattoo on my wrist. But, there have also been a number of other times where I walk into a church and I’m just accepted for who I am as an individual. Like I said nothing bad has really happened to me in a church. 

One of my close friends, James, grew up going to a Catholic church in his hometown. He still considers himself a Catholic. Basically, the Catholic church says LGBTQIA+ individuals are welcome here, but they can’t act on the feelings as that is seen as a sin. James shared with me about his youth director with me, he said “my youth director basically told others behind my back that I was going to hell for dating a boy.” It was “disheartening.” He went to youth group every week and was very involved. Yet, there is a bad taste in his mouth from the Church. 

I’d label the Catholic church as welcoming, which means in this case to greet hospitably and with courtesy or cordiality. They fall under the category that I like to call “We love you but…” We love you, but you cannot love who you love. We love you, but in order to go to Heaven you must change. We love you, but you can’t act on your feelings. That’s not good. Some churches will welcome LGBTQIA+ people into the pews, but they will not allow such persons any leadership abilities and dull the call they may have from God to be active in a church. 

Conversely, there are churches that are both welcoming and affirming. (Affirming in this case means to validate) Rev. Christy Jo, Associate Pastor at Eastwood Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), shared how her congregation and denomination were affirming for all individuals. She believed that churches must affirm “ALL of who you are, who you love, and how you show up in the world.” The DOC church could be an example for other denominations and churches for how to live out a gospel full of love and acceptance. 

The difference between these two churches seem rather obvious. However, it’s funny to look at the percentage of these churches who say homosexuality should be accepted in society. According to a

Pew Research stud

y conducted in 2015,  the Catholic church is a whopping 70%, while mainline protestant churches come in at 66%. Why don’t both of these churches agree on who should be accepted and affirmed as Christians and humans? I don’t really have an answer to that. 

In 2014, there was a survey done by

Gallup, Inc.

that showed that only 17% of LGB identifying adults were highly religious meaning they went to church one a week or pretty often. 27% were moderately religious, and 56% were not religious at all. This is not okay!

The Oasis Center

, a Nashville youth outreach center that works with LGBT teens, claims that “the Church and local churches are one of the biggest sources of direct discrimination against LGB people and the biggest contributor of negative views to debates about same-sex relationships in society and the media.” 

When 52% of LGBT youth report self-harming activities and 44% report suicidal thoughts (Oasis Center), shouldn’t the Church help? When will the Church hear the cries? When will the Church begin affirming everyone and do so with open hearts, open minds, and open doors? There’s a stark difference between a welcoming and an affirming church, when will the Church move away from being just welcoming and towards an affirming and loving stance? 

Hopefully, soon, because there are lives to be saved.

%d bloggers like this: