Skip to content

Queer communion

Queer communion & the imprint of the divine.

It’s PRIDE month and I’m so grateful for the many glorious queer people in my world.

LGBTQIA+ people have a particular, and from what I understand, exquisitely painful experience of being othered by Christians. I am devastated that my own toxic theology contributed to this many years ago. If you’re straight, please keep reading, if you’re not, you need only read from under the Insta square below.

Religious trauma is felt by LGBTQIA+ people in specific ways. They’ve stretched my thinking and enlarged by heart.

They can feel on the outer of the traditional family unit, unable to be themselves or find a place in the church paradigm. Or, they’re told they can be gay but not act on it and need to choose a life of celibacy. Perhaps they’re allowed to attend churches but not be full members, never in leadership, not able to marry.

Structurally, most church organisations do not have space for a queer Christian or even a queer person. The interpersonal impact of rejection, stigmatisation and invisibility is real and can be traumatising. And the conditions on belonging, that is, the need to change to be acceptable, can be deadly. They’re being asked to change what is as natural to them as the way they speak or the colour of their skin. Add the intersections of race, poverty and disability and you have acute marginalisation.

The LGBTQIA+ community has significantly higher rates of suicide in Australia than the general population. In the US, there is evidence that shows this number is higher if the queer person attends church (!!!). The anger I feel in my body as I type this makes me want to burn it all down.

@wetheurban

The younger ones feel particularly precious, I feel so protective of them, hypervigilant, on the lookout for ways they could be harmed. I don’t want the judgement I’ve seen, both in and outside the church, to touch them. Delightfully, they already seem freer than generations before them, more at home in themselves. I hope this is true.

I want them to know freedom around their bodies and their sexuality, their gender expression, their authentic selves. I find myself becoming enraged at the voices and policies, attitudes and doctrines that seek to contain and suppress this authenticity. While I remember and understand the commitment to faithfulness, the desire to honour the word of God, true acceptance must trump adherence to doctrine, we are losing too many.

I’m angry but also, I see a model of how it could be. In my story of leaving faith, I wrote about the life-saving Uniting Church in Australia. They’ve been ordaining gay and lesbian ministers for decades, they were the first church in Australia to marry same-sex couples after the changes to legislation in 2018. (This went to a constitutional vote, they worked hard to get it done). They have congregations where LGBTQIA+ people are beloved full members, celebrated in their diversity.

The first time I attended a Uniting congregation where many of the community are queer, a lesbian couple served communion. I sat at the back and wept. It had been some years since I had attended church and I couldn’t quite believe the beauty of it.

The Uniting Church has liturgies and resources, they have done for years, so congregations can approach inclusion and healing theologically. And even though they are so comparatively progressive, as an organisation they’re know they don’t yet have it right. They’re currently preparing an apology to the queer community, for the ways they’ve let them down.

Church can do better, it is being modelled in many places around the world, the damage doesn’t have to continue.

If you sit somewhere on the beautiful rainbow spectrum, I hope you know you are loved. You are beloved. We need you. We need to understand the world as you experience it, we need more stories of the softness and power of queer love, the particularities of it, the ways it makes you feel.

I’m so sorry for the ways in which you have been hurt and minimised by the people who were meant to represent safety, grace and unconditional acceptance. That must have been so confusing and disorienting for you, perhaps devastating.

But what I know for sure is that you are good, your heart, your flesh, has always been good. You have never needed someone else’s approval. The imprint of the divine, of everything wonderful, deeply true and beautiful, is on your body and soul, your same-sex attraction, your self-expression, your trans identity, your non-binary hair and nails. I hope you know that too. I hope you can live free.

LGBTQIA+ resources and support – Counselling + referral – 1800 184 527

Lifeline – call 13 11 14, 24/7, text, or chat online.

PS. If you are straight, sit with the ways these words may have made you uncomfortable. Be curious about the reactions you’re having. Where do they come from? Did you know the English translation of the word homosexual didn’t make its way into the Bible until 1946 and is incorrect? There was no point of reference for homosexual relationships in Bible times and the verses that use the word are condemning sexual oppression, like that between a slave owner and his slave. And Sodom and Gomorrah? Destroyed because they ignored the cries of the poor.

Here’s some links and books to take things further if you’re interested:

A journal article look into the experiences of 24 LGBTQIA+ Australians in evangelical, non-affirming churches. Australian LGBTQIA+ suicide stats

Australian theologian and ethicist Shane Clifton, one of the authors of the above article, has a podcast with his daughter Jem on her gender transition.

US research on LGBT and church

God and the Gay Christian, Matthew Vines – Shameless by Nadia Boltz Weber

Jeff Chu asks ‘Am I damned to hell because I’m gay?’

The Uniting Church has a congregation led by a trans woman. Here’s a bit about them and the supportive space they’ve created – Here’s a historical doc looking at the ways the Uniting Church wrestled with inclusion theologically and arrived at their stance.

Written by

You might also enjoy

Survival Mode

Collectively, we’re in survival mode at the moment. Our nervous systems are firing and we’re either hypervigilant and unable to

Read More »

Download 'Melancholy': an excerpt from "The Sentimental Non-Believer."

Melancholy is a reflection on the way Easter used to feel and how it feels now.