The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

LGBT-affirming churches are necessary, especially in the south

Last Sunday, I visited a local church called University Baptist Church (UBC). Seeking a small, tight-knit community and a calm atmosphere, this church seemed to fill the bill. 

The message the pastor led with explained the need for Christianity to become more inclusive to the diversity of all people. He then elaborated specifically on how Christianity should become more inclusive of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals. 

I was shocked to hear a church talk so positively about the LGBT community–especially a church in Mississippi. 

Earlier this year, Mississippi legislature passed the House Bill 1523. According to The Atlantic, this is one of the most discriminatory, anti-LGBT laws ever passed in the United States. 

The bill protects companies and organizations from serving members of the LGBT community on the basis of religious freedom. 

The bill allowed businesses including doctors, schools, psychologists,  and churchesto choose whom they serve based on religion. 

Therefore, it is understandable that I was more than a little surprised to walk into a church that was not only welcoming of LGBT individuals but affirming of their identities and relationships. 

According to the UBC website, the church is an, “inclusive, welcoming fellowship where we love God and one another and seek to love the world that God in Christ so loves.” 

A church that loves each other the way God loves people should not be hard to find, right? However, Christians (and therefore churches) often put limitations on how they love other people. 

With quotes like, “hate the sin, love the sinner” and, “we accept you, but not your lifestyle,” churches breed hypocrisy. 

Too often the church body will refuse to show love to another human being because of the sins they commit. 

You are an alcoholic? Sorry, we love you, but we cannot help you. You are homeless and addicted to drugs? We love you, but you chose that life. 

In the Bible, 1 Peter 4:8 says, “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” 

If love covers sin, then why does the Church limit their love in this way? 

Of course, even if Christians focus on loving others earnestly instead of focusing on other’s sins, this still would not guarantee an LGBT-affirmative church. 

In  order for an affirming church, such as the UBC, to exist, Christians have to come to a place where they no longer view homosexuality as a sin. Biblically speaking, this can be hard to justify. 

However, there are many leaders in the Christian faith who can explain why they do not see homosexuality as a sin and back it up biblically. 

Foster Freed, for instance, is a Canadian pastor who wrote an 18-page sermon that paved the way for his church to becoming an LGBT-affirming space. 

I find that churches like UBC are incredibly important for the LGBT community. This community faces prejudice, hate and discrimination on a daily basis. Because of these difficulties, members of the community are more likely to face a mental illness, become homeless or attempt suicide. 

Plus, the South is incredibly conservative which means members of the LGBT community living here deal with even more difficulties. 

We as a society, however, tend to say, “So what? So what that LGBT individuals have a harder life than necessary, it does not affect me, so I do not care.” 

Churches that are accepting can fill this gap. Churches that welcome LGBT individuals earnestly can be spaces of refuge. 

LGBT-affirming churches provide these people with community and solidarity they need just as much as anyone else. 

These churches are not just saying that Christians accept you just as you are, but that God accepts you just as you are–and to some, that can make all the difference. 

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LGBT-affirming churches are necessary, especially in the south