URC Daily Devotion Tuesday 17th October 2023

Tuesday 17th October 2023

I’m a Christian Despite…Church homophobia

Romans 14:1-4;10-12 

Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarrelling over opinions. Some believe in eating anything, while the weak eat only vegetables. Those who eat must not despise those who abstain, and those who abstain must not pass judgement on those who eat; for God has welcomed them.
Who are you to pass judgement on servants of another? It is before their own lord that they stand or fall. And they will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make them stand.
Why do you pass judgement on your brother or sister? Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgement seat of God. For it is written,
‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
and every tongue shall give praise to God.’

So then, each of us will be accountable to God.

The word ‘homophobia’ looks akin to arachnophobia (fear of spiders), globophobia (fear of balloons) or hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia (fear of long words). Instead, it describes prejudice against gay people. Christians accused of homophobia often respond: ‘I don’t hate anyone. It’s because I love them that I tell them…’, and then proceed to expound their prejudice anyway.
Even as a child, I felt shame about my emerging sexuality. I grew up when the UK government had banned schools from mentioning homosexual relationships. There were no role models or a counter narrative in church – just the prospect of ridicule or pity, controversy and isolation if I should accidently let my guard down.
It took me until the age of 21 to muster enough courage to confess to my church pastor. I had always hoped to be ‘cured’. He hoped the same and put me in touch with a conversion therapy group. Newsflash: it didn’t work!
On the understanding that I wouldn’t ‘indulge’ my leanings, it was business as usual at church (which is to say, a continual effort to hide my true self and a constant fear of rejection). My pastor often preached, ‘No relationship can flourish in an atmosphere of disapproval,’ and he was dead right.
I came to know of many Christians who were shunned by their churches for being gay, often when they were most vulnerable. It has been unfathomably destructive to their mental and spiritual health. Jesus’ welcome, obliterated by the Church.
This was my turning point: I realised that the Church can get things wrong. Sometimes catastrophically. My orthodox interpretations of Scripture needed to be re-examined. Thank God for beautiful Christians in my life who have been genuinely loving and radically welcoming.
The answer to how I’m still a Christian despite Church homophobia is: through his people and spiritual discipline, I got to know the Jesus who also suffered persecution and rejection at the hands of those who considered themselves orthodox. The Church needs to become more like Jesus.


Holy God,
Your welcome transcends our preconceptions.
Your wisdom confounds our best thoughts. 
Your ways are higher than our ways.

Forgive us when our words and actions,
our institutions and communities
have wounded, sometimes irreparably,
and driven people away from Jesus.

Reform us in your perfect love.
For each of us will be accountable to God.  Amen

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