A Denver pastor and her congregation are taking a stand against the perception that LGBT people are an “issue” for Christianity, posting a video that challenges the idea that sexual identity is something for church leaders “to make decisions about.”
Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber, the enigmatic pastor of the House for All Sinners and Saints, a Lutheran church in Denver, Colorado, was recently invited to participate in The Nines, a two-day online conference scheduled for November 4-5 that will include a lineup of largely evangelical Christian leaders who will post talks about various topics. The theme of the conference is “Culture Crash: When the Church and Culture Collide,” and speakers are asked to make 5-minute videos about several “issues,” such as same-sex marriage, “a culture of inclusivism,” and “changing sexual norms.”
On Thursday, Bolz-Weber, like other conference speakers, made a video about homosexuality. But instead of simply talking into a camera about her personal views on the subject, Bolz-Weber briefly introduced the video before turning the camera over to LGBT members of her church.
“I thought I would take on what’s being called the issue of homosexuality, and what my church’s response is to it,” Bolz-Weber says in the video. “To do that, I just decided I would concede my time to several members of my congregation so that I might introduce you to something that we like to call The Body of Christ.”
Watch the video below:
Over the course of the next four minutes, several Christians identifying as gay, transgender, and queer speak eloquently about their faith, detailing why they go to church. They also express deep frustration with the perception that LGBT people are a problem for Christianity, with one of the churchgoers, Amy, declaring “I am queer, I am part of the church, and I am not an issue.” Bolz-Weber then concludes the conversation by reading from the biblical book of Ephesians, speaking of Christ’s call to peace before the video fades into a closing slide that reads, “We are not an issue for you to make decisions about. We are the Body of Christ. Just like you.”
Laurel, a transgender congregant featured in the video who prefers the pronouns ‘they’ and ‘them,’ says in the video “I still come to church because the person I was when I was baptized was trans and queer, and that will never change.” Laurel spoke with ThinkProgress about their decision to participate.
“A lot of us are really tired of other Christians talking about the queer community on our behalf,” Laurel said. “So the opportunity to speak about why I remain Christian and tell my own story and talk about it for myself was honestly a very liberating experience.”
“We very rarely see people at the table — when these discussions happen — who are LGBTQ people,” Laurel said. “They either see [LGBT people] as a threat to a church, or their decision to be ‘inclusive’ as a way of improving the church. I see both as misguided, because it’s not our church — it’s God’s church. Anything we do should be a response to that, and not a response to a cultural phenomenon or political ideals.”