In my Posture Shift series, I outlined four principles to guide a reasonable self-determination for the inclusion of LGBT+ people in evangelical churches. Throughout the series, it became clear that we already afford this latitude of grace to ourselves. We reviewed extensive evidence that born again evangelicals – as much as any other sinners – tend to stretch grace beyond reasonable boundaries. Evangelicals, however, abuse grace not only by our own sins, but also by withholding grace from others – typically minority sinners.
While we ended the series on a level playing field at the foot of the Cross, the idea of actually extending “reasonable self-determination” to LGBT+ people scares many evangelicals. People fear that evangelical churches might one day conduct gay marriages; or open up pastoral staff positions to practicing gays; or allow drag queens to parade around the pulpit. The fears are palpable and contagious.
I stated clearly in Posture Shift – and do so again here – that the objective of reasonable self-determination should never be about doctrinal shift. The “shift” has nothing to do with promoting gay marriage. There are no proposed changes to moral theology on the table. Instead, our objective is a shift in posture; one that ceases to chop at the roots of LGBT+ people’s faith; one that instead nourishes their faith right where they are.
That some people may not have yet reached the spiritual destination of “whole-life surrender” is no reason to deny their entire faith – or exclude them. Faith extends across a journey that can end in whole-life surrender; but it often starts with what I call “Front-End Surrender.” Our investment in understanding this other kind of surrender will enhance the way we foster spiritual growth in LGBT+ people.
In Posture Shift, a sobering question surfaced: how can we ever foster spiritual growth in unchurched LGBT+ people when we struggle to keep our own gay loved ones in the church? From countless direct reports, our teens and young adults experiencing SSA say they feel isolated, moralized, minimized, and pushed away. No wonder they leave in search of more accepting communities. Our ineffectiveness turns teens who experience SSA into young adults who identity as LGBT+. The heart of Lead Them Home is to create space where our teens and young adults can pursue an authentic, holistic and safe spiritual journey toward Christ – in our midst.
What does this “space” look like? How do we build such a “space” without compromising doctrine? I hope you will join me for my Front-End Surrender series as we explore this complex and challenging topic. God bless you.