The Black Church is accepting LGBT people

Prevailing wisdom has it that the Black church is overwhelmingly negative on issues of justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and … Continued

Prevailing wisdom has it that the Black church is overwhelmingly negative on issues of justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people.

My experience three years ago organizing 200 clergy in Washington, D.C. who supported marriage equality contradicts this “wisdom.”

I spoke with pastors who were accustomed to knowing what to say, who were comfortable speaking the truth of the Gospel, but who weren’t prepared to speak their support. Before they could sign in support, they needed to understand what the Bible does and doesn’t say or what a good follower of Jesus should say. Once their concerns and questions were addressed – with respect – they could join in support of marriage equality.

Today, I’m having conversations with Black pastors that were unpredictable even three years ago. Just the other day I spoke with a pastor of a megachurch in Prince George’s County who told me that he is “evolving” in his views about justice for LGBT people. He knows that civil and human rights are for all of us, and he wants to learn more. Another pastor is very clear in his love and support of gay and lesbian members of his church, but wonders how best to address the Genesis passages of scripture that refer to marriage between a man and a woman.

For these leaders and more like them, the negativity doesn’t fit with what is in their hearts, and it doesn’t match their experience with members of their congregations.

More and more pastors and others in the Black community need guidance as we journey toward understanding. Part of the guidance will come from LGBT people and their families sharing themselves with their pastors. The leaders I am describing want to know and need to know about the lives of these precious gay and lesbian people they love.

Not knowing – especially about difficult subjects – breeds silence and their reluctance to speak publicly. Just as statistics class can stymie students, the complexities of human sexuality, gender identity, and the Bible could be considered a perfect storm of tough subjects.

As our culture is shifting toward greater inclusion, addressing blockages in the conversations regarding sexual orientation, gender identity and theological understandings in Black churches is hugely important. People in congregations are talking, pastors are poised for engagement of the subject matter, and families (gay and straight) are intently listening to all of it. Some are longing for it.

Many Voices offers seminars to equip people to stand confidently in their support and to speak it publicly. Pastors and others are coming because they know they need to learn.

Finally, as a young pastor said to me, “We cannot avoid dealing with the difficult questions and we dare not risk being on the wrong side of history.” Creating safe spaces for asking the uncomfortable questions is an imperative, not simply a good idea.

A Washington, D.C.-based ordained pastor affiliated with the National Baptist and Missionary Baptist Churches, Cedric Harmon is co-director of Many Voices, a Black church movement for gay and transgender justice.

  • quiensabe

    Perhaps, Cedric, you should get current. You should know that ” Black Faith Leaders Plan $1M anti-Obama Effort Over Same-Sex Marriage.” Oh, and by the way, if you’re worried about what to do with what the Bible says, you should stop preaching.

  • cricket44

    Ah, the bigots are doing a jump start this morning.

  • Catken1

    Maybe he has enough confidence in the Bible’s value to trust reason and persuasion to convince others to follow Biblical law, rather than whining to government for special privileges for civil marriages that comply with his religious faith.

    Just a thought. Too bad more people can’t be devoutly religious and still respect other Americans’ right not to follow their beliefs.

Read More Articles

Valle Header Art
My Life Depended on the Very Act of Writing

How I was saved by writing about God and cancer.

Sociologist: Religion Can Predict Sexual Behavior

“Religion and sex are tracking each other like never before,” says sociologist Mark Regnerus.

The Internet Is Not Killing Religion. So What Is?

Why is religion in decline in the modern world? And what can save it?

river dusk
Cleaner, Lighter, Closer

What’s a fella got to do to be baptized?

Magical Thinking and the Canonization of Two Popes

Why Pope Francis is canonizing two popes for all of the world wide web to see.

An Ayatollah’s Gift to Baha’is, Iran’s Largest Religious Minority

An ayatollah offers a beautiful symbolic gesture against a backdrop of violent persecution.

Screenshot 2014-04-23 11.40.54
Atheists Bad, Christians Good: A Review of “God’s Not Dead”

A smug Christian movie about smug atheists leads to an inevitable happy ending.

Ten Ways to Make Your Church Autism-Friendly

The author of the Church of England’s autism guidelines shares advice any church can follow.

Pope Francis: Stop the Culture of Waste

What is the human cost of our tendency to throw away?

chapel door
“Sometimes You Find Something Quiet and Holy”: A New York Story

In a hidden, underground sanctuary, we were all together for a few minutes in this sweet and holy mystery.

Mary Magdalene, the Closest Friend of Jesus

She’s been ignored, dismissed, and misunderstood. But the story of Easter makes it clear that Mary was Jesus’ most faithful friend.

From Passover to Easter: Why I’m Grateful to be Jewish, Christian, and Alive

Passover with friends. Easter with family. It’s almost enough to make you believe in God.

Top 10 Reasons We’re Glad A Catholic Colbert Is Taking Over Letterman’s “Late Show”

How might we love Stephen Colbert as the “Late Show” host? Let us count the ways.

God’s Not Dead? Why the Good News Is Better than That

The resurrection of Jesus is not a matter of private faith — it’s a proclamation for the whole world.

The Three Most Surprising Things Jesus Said

Think you know Jesus? Some of his sayings may surprise you.

Jesus, Bunnies, and Colored Eggs: An Explanation of Holy Week and Easter

So, Easter is a one-day celebration of Jesus rising from the dead and turning into a bunny, right? Not exactly.