Alongside Steve Chalke’s plea this month for a re-think on the way churches treat LGB&T Christians, there was another, less publicised article which followed the same theme.
The article was from another Baptist, but this time one who has experienced the full force of exclusion from church membership and ministry after ‘coming out’. Sadly Patrick now no longer attends church because of the painful experiences he has suffered, but keeps his faith alive by listening to podcast sermons and rejoicing in the faithfulness of God.
Patrick Gillan’s article was published in the ‘Baptist Times’ earlier this month and exemplifies the issue that Steve Chalke is calling to us address.
“Baptist churches have a real problem in knowing how to deal with gay Christians: not only do we not meet the criteria, but the usually heterosexual leadership of these churches are at a loss as what to do with us.
So we wander and become disenfranchised. Despite my vow of chastity I was not fit for purpose as explained to me when my application for membership was declined. So I have moved on to where I have no idea! God however is faithful and if church for me is listening to a podcast with my cat for company then so be it.
But will there ever come a day when Christians like me are not seen as different or a threat? Will there ever come a day when, like the woman at the well, we find not only a saviour who is all inclusive but a church which embraces difference?”
Those of us from other denominations will know that this is not just an issue for Baptists!
Despite the obvious pain and frustration in Patrick’s story however, there are two positive signs. First of all, that hope somehow still shines through the words that Patrick has written, and in many of the comments which follow (please read these too). Secondly, because the Baptist Times has chosen to publish it.
Their diecision to publish shows that there is a greater openness developing among many evangelicals, and a greater awareness of the damage which has been done to LGB&T people by our churches.
Patrick’s story charts where evangelical churches have been, and where most still are, in their treatment of people who are attracted to the same sex. The challenge we face now is how to chart our path to a more inclusive future.
‘Why I am a podcast Chrstian’ by Patrick Gillan – 8th January 2013 in the Baptist Times