Revoice is a conference scheduled for July 2018 in St. Louis. It will offer encouragement and community for LGBT+ Christians who hold to a traditional biblical ethic. It has come under intense scrutiny by numerous church leaders. Since Lead Them Home’s Bill Henson will present at Revoice, he offers what is most needed from church leaders during this time of suspicion and presumption.
Most LGBT+ people know what it is like to grow up feeling different.
Being treated differently.
At first, name-calling, teasing, and passive exclusion. Then overt exclusion, bullying, and even assault. Risk of mistreatment is highest during adolescence. Cumulative mistreatment can map trauma into one’s developing brain.
Trauma hurts. It can kill. More commonly, it can steal one’s voice.
fight or flight
Trauma triggers the fight-or-flight survival switch designed to protect us. If triggered repeatedly, life can seem very unsafe. Rational response to trauma is to hide. To isolate. To do anything to avoid getting hurt again.
When LGBT+ young people come out, they face additional fears.
Will my parents accept or reject me?
Will my youth leaders include or exclude me?
Will we wrap loving arms around LGBT+ youth — or offer misinformed, hurtful clichés?
Fear cripples hope. Losing hope can kill one’s voice.
survive or die
No wonder many LGBT+ youth turn inward. Isolation fuels depression, which easily morphs into suicidal ideation. Without thoughtful care, ideation can yield self-harming action — even suicide attempt.
Add family rejection to the mix and suicidality skyrockets. Rejection by parents can also lead to homelessness. This is to say nothing of well-known (and hardly-noticed) cases of LGBT+ people being murdered.
Rejection denies personal worth. It can destroy one’s voice.
gather or scatter
It takes a survivor to grow up LGBT+ even in an affirming society. Much approval of LGBT+ people is actually a viewpoint, not a relational value. Many ascribe to a politic that supports LGBT+ civil rights, but how many actually invite their LGBT+ neighbor over for dinner?
Into adulthood, historic traumas can further disrupt one’s sense of security. Even well-intended care, extended with unthoughtful words, can damage trust and propel an LGBT+ person away from family, friends, and especially the Church.
No doubt, many LGBT+ people do positively declare their identity and surround themselves with a network of supportive family and friends. Not all LGBT+ people, though, experience this kind of support.
revolt or refuge
Widespread criticism of Revoice might lead some to conclude that an insurgent rebellion is underway within the Church. Accusations have been nothing short of astonishing — and sad.
This is no revolt.
Revoice is about refuge for Christian brothers and sisters.
Some identify as LGBT+ people. Others simply say they are same-gender attracted.
All have surrendered their sexuality and gender identity to Jesus Christ.
All hold to a traditional biblical sexual ethic.
All are simply seeking community and a refuge to revoice what often is held inside.
chop or nourish
Critical voices add yet another layer of mistreatment into the lives of LGBT+ people. Do we really want to accuse already-repentant people?
Do we really want to accuse already-repentant people?
Good Shepherds guide rather than scatter their flocks. They invite brothers and sisters to their dinner table. They offer genuine care. According to James 1:19, they are “…quick to listen and slow to speak.”
Good Shepherds nourish rather than chop at others’ faith.
They know people thrive when they have a voice.
Josh has an M.A. in Biblical Literature, and his greatest passion is help people grow in their relationship with Jesus.
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- Growing Up LGBT+: A Guiding Families Excerpt - July 25, 2019