Stop Calling Yourself an Ally

More than a few Christian bloggers have written rhetorical bullshit posts over the past couple of years “coming out” in support of LGBTQ people like me. They’ve given themselves the ALLY label and gone about the business of converting other Christians to welcome The Gays with “arms open wide.”

I’m calling your bluff. You aren’t an ally. You aren’t being all Jesus-y. You certainly aren’t speaking for the LGBTQ community (or our ACTUAL allies).label

Under the seemingly sweet-smelling, rosy welcome lies the shit-covered truth: you still believe our sexuality makes us broken. You compare our God-pleasing, love-filled relationships to your gluttony, materialism, gossip, or whatever “sin” fits the current sermon series.

A few of you might say, “But wait! *I* don’t believe your sexuality makes you sinful!” To that I’d say, “Thanks be to God. Now tell me, how many LGBTQ have you let tell their stories on your blog?” Crickets…

Being a REAL ally isn’t very complicated, actually. Here’s my short contribution to the “How to Be an Ally” lists that’ve been written by other queers like me:

  1. Know the difference between ‘open’ and ‘affirming’.

You might be waving your Jesus flag and shouting, “God loves you. He really, really loves you!” But if you make statements like “It’s not my place to judge.” Followed by, “We are all sinners,” you aren’t affirming. Your church doors might be open for us, but you don’t see us as equals. If you don’t think our marriages are as pleasing to God as yours are, then you aren’t an ally.

  1. Don’t speak for the LGBTQ community.

So many “ally” posts discuss how the *ally* feels about the treatment of LGBTQ. If you’re crying onto your keyboard as you’re telling our stories, guess how much it hurt to actually live them? Unless you’re a member of the LGBTQ community or one of its loved ones who’ve been damaged by the Church, you don’t have the authority to speak for us. If you have a platform and want to use it to be an ally, take your spotlight and shine it on one of us.

  1. Stop saying that your support is sacrificial.

If you’re following Jesus by loving us Gays, then you don’t have to justify it to your churchy friends. It isn’t a sacrifice to support LGBTQ people. It’s What Jesus Would Do.

  1. Quit thinking that LGBTQ people need you to tell us we’re valued or loved.

Yes, it’s terrible that so many of us in the LGBTQ community have questioned if God really loves us. Still, just like the Church shouldn’t have thought it could take God from us, our allies shouldn’t think they can give God back. We don’t need you to tell us we’re loved by God. We need you to tell us that YOU love us. Then, tell us how badly the Church f’ed up (or you, if the shoe fits). Tell us that the Church wasn’t representing God—thank God.

Both “sides” say we need to find a common ground. Come together at the table. The faux allies have pulled out a chair and welcomed us into their community.

No thank you. I don’t need your welcome. I don’t need you to open your arms and “love me where I am.” This bullied kid has no desire to sit at the cool kids’ table.

I already have a place set at a table. God’s. He’s the one who does the inviting.

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8 Responses to Stop Calling Yourself an Ally

  1. Jill Spicer says:

    Pitch perfect, my love.

    I’m going to also add–for our friends who don’t quite get it–that “affirming” also means your church recognizes that gay Christians exist and could (should, even) serve alongside other Christians in the church.

  2. Steve R Wigall says:

    In Christian thinking, it makes a difference whether the person says LGBT sexuality is broken, but straight sexuality isn’t. Or does the person say, as I believe, that all humanity, and all sexual orientations are broken and equally impacted by sin. I’d say that sin impacts every human’s ability to love and trust.

    The practical implication is that in order to love myself, whether I am straight or LGBT, I don’t need to pretend I am perfect. I can’t imagine the burden of trying to think of myself as being perfect sexually. If the point is to affirm that LGBT sexuality isn’t inferior, I’ll stand and cheer for that cause. But I’d not want to saddle my son and my LGBT friends with the need to be sexually perfect before they can be self accepting. Every human needs to be free to accept themselves fully, flaws and quirks and idiosyncrasies and all.

    • Clean White Canvas says:

      I might be reading into your comments, so forgive me if I am.

      I’m in no way suggesting that people aren’t impacted by sin. I also never suggested that I’m striving for perfection–that’s ridiculous. What I’ve said here is pretty clear and basic. The Evangelical, Christian church sees LGBTQ relationships/marriages (the union, NOT just the people) as perversions. Please explain to me how that doesn’t make a difference?

      If it was just as simple as accepting one’s flaws, then there wouldn’t be people killing themselves because they can’t “change” their sexuality. It’s not a matter of accepting one’s inherent sinfulness.

  3. Steve R Wigall says:

    It finally makes no difference, it seems to me, whether we say all our sexual orientations are good as created, or whether we say that all our sexual orientations are sin broken and in need of God’s mercy, as long as we affirm that we are all the kind of persons whom God uses to perform his ministry and to execute his will on earth. As a straight person, I insist that I am as broken and as much in need of God’s mercy as my LGBT friends and family. Broken people who need God’s mercy are exactly the kind of persons whom God uses to do his will. Or so it seems to me.

  4. Jes K says:

    I am not a Christian. As an agnostic, I have never faced anything like the pain and rejection that the LGBTQ community has felt from the church. I have, however, had a lifetime of trying to find my way through love and acceptance between friends and family with different religious/spiritual backgrounds.

    For me, your post calls into question the meaning and validity of tolerance, a principle I have long believed in. I understand seeking affirmation, but I feel that there is an inherent intolerance to the expectation that one person change their very belief system to accommodate another’s needs. I do believe that we can be open to one another without sharing common beliefs on the nature of sin.

    I know you see it as unfair to compare a loving relationship with anything sinful, and I couldn’t agree more. I think that view is backwards and, based on what I know of Jesus, un-Christian. Context is always important, and to have the best parts of one’s life placed on a list with the worst of another’s must be unbearably hurtful.

    But I also think open-ness, even without affirmation, can be an expression of love.

    I have a Catholic friend who divorced her husband a few years back. Her children, raised Catholic, believe what she did was wrong, as it was against scripture. They also believe she had the right to make that decision for herself, and they continue to love and support her, despite believing she sinned. Her own mother, however, has shut the door on her, refusing to accept that she could commit this “sin” and still be a good woman in the eyes of God.

    I have vegan (atheist) friends who believe at their core that it is inhumane and morally reprehensible to consume animals. I believe they can love and accept me despite my “sin” of eating fish, poultry, and dairy products.

    There are those who believe abortion to be sinful under any circumstance, and they have a right to believe that. There are those who believe equally fervently that it would be sinful to allow a child to be born and suffer greatly during a short and painful life, when the pregnancy could be terminated and the suffering avoided.

    These are beliefs – our own internal guides for right and wrong. Wether they come from religion, philosophy, or personal experience, we all believe certain things are right or wrong; Godly or sinful.

    Should we focus on beliefs or actions? Should I need my (hypothetical) promiscuous sister to acknowledge her sinful nature to love her? Or is the only way to love her through acceptance and affirmation, and I must change my own beliefs? Can we not be loving of a person yet disapproving of some of their beliefs?

    Just as black voices need to tell the story of racism, LGBTQ voices must tell the story of intolerance and hate they have experienced. I agree that it is not loving to invite another person into your home conditionally, expecting them to listen to you rage about their beliefs that your choices are wrong. It is not open or loving to try to fix what is not broken, but that knife cuts both ways.

    Your beliefs are different than mine, and as long as those beliefs do not infringe on decency (a whole other topic of discussion. I’m looking at you, NC), we can still exist next to, and even enjoy each other.

    Seeking affirmation is part of our nature, and most of us are happiest when we are with “our people.” We are comfortable with those who share our beliefs and affirm that we have got it right. Variety is also part of our nature – we humans come in many colors and flavors, and for me that makes life all the more beautiful, but so much more complicated. We all struggle in finding love, acceptance, tolerance, and peace.

    In this time of polarization and division, I worry to see so many people extending hands (if clumsily) only to have them smacked for doing it wrong. I wish we found it easier to put aside our rage and the hurt, and lovingly educate (and tolerate) each other.

    • Clean White Canvas says:

      If it were merely a matter of accepting differences. It’s a matter of life or death among LGBTQ Christians. I could give you a dozen stories of mothers who’ve found their children dead because their children thought that God didn’t love them enough to “change” them. Of my close group of friends, every single one of us have been hurt by the theology of people like Jen Hatmaker (who’s Facebook status is the inspiration for my blog post).

      You mentioned several things that are core beliefs: divorce, being vegan, abortion, promiscuity. Being gay or queer or transgender are not core beliefs; they are significant parts of identity. The Church continues to mar a significant portion of its followers by suggesting that their sexuality and gender variances are NOT part of the identity with which they were born, but sinful choices instead. Regardless of which side you align with morally divorce, animal consumption, abortion, and promiscuity are choices.

      I do understand your desire for peace–I wish it was that simple. It also doesn’t come down to me (or anyone else) wanting “affirmation.” I live with a woman and intend on marrying her, so, obviously, I don’t care much if anyone believes it’s right or wrong. But, I DO care that people are killing themselves and families are turning their backs on loved ones and my friends are afraid to get beaten for being in the “correct” restroom. Rhetoric-filled Facebook statuses written by Christian bloggers who have hundreds of people as their audience have the potential to do so much harm. So, so much. If you spend any time in an Evangelical church, you’ll understand that her status wasn’t just someone “clumsily” extending a hand. Also, Jen Hatmaker is very well educated in the issues. She doesn’t need teaching. In my opinion she needs to say what she means.

      If we know better, we should do better. She’s more concerned about saving her readership than she is about those to whom she’s extended a hand.

  5. Great. Thanks for sharing.

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