During my years working as a professional singer and actor I was often quiet about my faith, especially around my countless gay or lesbian friends. I quickly learned that their experiences with the Church and Christians were almost always negative. Many were kicked out of their churches, shunned by family members, and even spit upon by Christian roommates. They didn’t have a positive view of Christians or the faith we professed. From their experiences, I saw that many churches excluded rather than included LGBT people, had a closed-door policy rather than an open-door policy, and taught a type behavior modification rather than Gospel transformation.
These churches worked on the model of Behave, Believe, Belong. Christians have told countless LGBT individuals that they must behave a certain way (be celibate or become heterosexual), believe a certain set of doctrines (this is right, that is wrong; this is sinful, that is holy), and then they are allowed to belong to the church community. My fear is that this model might actually be more damaging than helpful. My fear is that this model can distort our understanding of grace and our understanding of God. My fear is that this model might force us to think that if we behave a certain way, believe a certain thing, then God will accept us. Or worse, I fear that people will give up on God entirely because they are forced to behave rather than belong.
This is a very religious attitude. Religion says we negotiate with God to try to get help in exchange for our good behavior. We do what were told and, hopefully, God rewards us. Because of religion in churches, we’re told you must be a certain way, act a certain way, behave a certain way, believe a certain doctrine, then belonging to our community can happen.
Instead, I think the Gospel presents a better model: Belong, Believe, Become. Continue reading Nathan Albert: “Belong, Believe, Become”