Invited but not welcome?

“Invited but not welcome.”

Isabel Wilkerson spoke these words on a recent podcast . She was speaking of the migration of African Americans from the South to cities across the country. Her book The Warmth of Other Suns is on my to read list, ’cause we all need some historical context in our lives. When I heard those words, I couldn’t get past them. Thinking of them in the context of race it certainly makes sense. Thinking of them in the context of immigration, refugees, etc. Yeah it makes sense. I want to unpack how those words are certainly related to the Churches relationship with a marginalized community.

“Invited but not welcome.”

Is this what the church is saying to the LGBT community? Please come. But change yourself, assimilate to us: The White American Straight Church… or you are out. I hear the same idea said this way: Love the sinner, hate the sin. I’ve only ever heard this phrase used in one way: against gay people. I’ve not heard it directed towards any other people group. It’s a phrase that gets thrown around carelessly, like it’s the reasonable response to the “gay issue”. I would suggest that it’s an unwelcoming and even violent phrase. It leaves no room for the speaker to be open to a different view, to an image bearer living a unique God-breathed life. It leaves no room for the receiver to feel comfortable in their skin, safe in their person-hood around the speaker. Maybe this phrase wouldn’t conjure up images of the church as homophobic and aid in distrust of Christians if it were used as a blanket statement for all, especially for ourselves. But as it is used- only in reference to gay “sin”- it’s a passive aggressive slight to only one particular people group.

We all have to repent and turn from our sin to be a part of God’s people. True, we do. However, when you single out one people group, who in a lot of Christians beliefs/interpretations of the Bible are not sinning… who believe it or not are just as capable of being Spirit-led Christians as you.. who already have faithful lovers of God within their community. Well, you’re gonna get the side-eye.

So, are we going to invite AND welcome? Maybe learn from someone who we perceive to be outsiders of our faith? Do the Jesus thing and break bread, fellowship and love each other? See the humanity and see Jesus in the marginalized? Let go of the need to add a “but” or “if” to accepting someone, to loving someone? Maybe even open enough to see that God is already and always has been there, in the LGBT community.

The LGBT community.. OUR community.

Invited AND welcome?

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