Rachel Held Evans recently put up a blog post expressing frustration with the overly politicized approach to homosexuality taken by many conservative Christians.
When I speak at Christian colleges, I often take time to chat with students in the cafeteria. When I ask them what issues are most important to them, they consistently report that they are frustrated by how the Church has treated their gay and lesbian friends. Some of these students would say they most identify with what groups like the Gay Christian Network term “Side A” (they believe homosexual relationships have the same value as heterosexual relations in the sight of God). Others better identify with “Side B” (they believe only male/female relationship in marriage is God’s intent for sexuality). But every single student I have spoken with believes that the Church has mishandled its response to homosexuality.
Most have close gay and lesbian friends.
Evans draws attention to the role that having gay or lesbian friends plays in these students’ reactions. Regardless of their theological views about same-sex relationships, the young Christians Evans talks to evaluate the Church’s response by thinking about how it affects their friends:
Most feel that the Church’s response to homosexuality is partly responsible for high rates of depression and suicide among their gay and lesbian friends, particularly those who are gay and Christian.
Most are highly suspicious of “ex-gay” ministries that encourage men and women with same-sex attractions to marry members of the opposite sex in spite of their feelings.
Most feel that the church is complicit, at least at some level, in anti-gay bullying.
And most…I daresay all…have expressed to me passionate opposition to legislative action against gays and lesbians.
“When evangelicals turn their anti-gay sentiments into a political campaign,” one college senior on her way to graduate school told me, “all it does is confirm to my gay friends that they will never be welcome in the church. It makes them bitter, and it makes me mad too. This is why I never refer to myself as an evangelical. Ugh. I’m embarrassed to be part of that group.”