By Collin Hall
At the final lecture of Gordon’s 2018 sexuality week, Bill Henson, president of Lead Them Home, said “the church doesn’t know how to love LGBT people well.” Henson spoke on behalf of his organization, an action group that works towards loving and integrating LGBT youth into their churches and communities.
Henson said that as a collective, the Church is plainly ignorant on LGBT issues. He gave many specific examples of LGBT youth who had taken their own lives because of constant torment, bullying and ostratization that takes place sometimes even in the Church.
“Bullying kills a soul. Bullying kills hope. Bullying can take a life. When that happens it’s no longer about statistics and no longer about names and faces; its about remembering the value of a child’s life.”
Even Christians are culprits in marginalizing and in not loving LGBT youth Henson said. Christ calls us towards compassion for all; Henson claims that when we use empty platitudes such as “love the sinner, hate the sin,” we are not truly engaging with the issues present in the lives of LGBT youth.
Phrases like: “homosexual lifestyle,” “lifestyle choice,” “sexual preference” and “alternative lifestyle” create division and are not loving, Henson claimed.
He said: “Cliches are the comfort we retreat to when we are uncomfortable with someone. When you use these words and phrases it gives away the judgement and discomfort in our heart…If you want to build a justice bridge, you’ve got to do something. You’ve got to change your language.”
Battles are not going to be won and hearts are not going to be moved towards Christ by offering empty sympathy or by engaging shallowly with complicated LGBT issues, Henson said. LGBT people are marginalized and statistically more likely to suffer abuse, suicide, trauma etc; Henson showed several slides with data regarding struggling LGBT youth.
To love the marginalized, the Church must enter into difficult situations to better know those who are discriminated against.
Henson and a small group traveled to the Pulse Nightclub a year after that deadly shooting which took 49 lives. They were there to grieve with the grieving and to honor those passed. That is real engagement looks like. Even for those who disagree with affirming theology, Christ calls the Church to love all people and to engage everyone with the Gospel. So far, the Church’s track record with the LGBT community has been less than stellar. Groups like Lead Them Home are working to change that.