A Response To Our Critics

We have been receiving a lot of questions lately about our position on LGBT legal rights. After some difficult conversations over Facebook this summer, we felt it was necessary to clarify our purpose and goals as an organization.  We have had vigorous debates among our leadership, and have sought advice from other trusted LGBT and Christian friends about how to best respond. These conversations have helped us, hopefully, better articulate a position that is both faithful to our mission and sensitive to current political, social, and legal debates regarding LGBT rights and the role of the government and the church.

First, we want to sincerely apologize to anyone who feels like we have been deceitful. That was not our intention. We, as you can imagine, are trying to walk a very thin line by attempting to take some sort of middle ground.  While we do not take a formal position as an organization regarding LGBT rights specifically, we do affirm that all people are worthy of dignity, fair treatment, kindness, and respect. We find it to be truly unfortunate that LGBT rights are still seen as directly in opposition to religious rights.  We don’t see it that way, and we encourage Christians to remember Christ’s example who laid down his own rights, and even his own life, for the sake of others, and who called us to do the same. We are convinced that a robust understanding of the Christian faith calls us to care for and protect those who have been mistreated and marginalized, and we see the LGBT community as one of those groups.

The leadership team at LOVEboldly is comprised of individuals with a variety of positions on the theology and politics regarding faith and sexuality, but all of us are fundamentally dedicated to honoring the dignity and humanity of all people.  This has fostered an environment for us which has served well to facilitate conversation around sexuality and faith, inviting to a variety of perspectives, even ones with which participants fundamentally disagree.  We leave room for these differences to be present in our midst insomuch as they provide opportunities for interactions which can encourage personal growth for parties involved in the conversation.  Our concern as an organization has always been primarily about relationships. Connections are fostered and friendships are formed in our work largely by creating space where people can discuss issues of faith and sexuality. We are not a politicizing organization. This is not to say that we are not concerned about rights. We are.

While many have called us “allies”, others have flatly refused to call us such, because of our unwillingness to take a public stance one way or another on LGBT rights.  This is not because we are in favor of LGBT people suffering or being treated unfairly.  Instead, we believe that building relationships is the best way to create lasting change in which hostilities can be assuaged and so that LGBT folks and conservative Christians alike can be treated fairly not only under the eyes of the law, but in the eyes of individuals and communities as well. We are persuaded that most often the best way to help people recognize their own biases is to have them encounter people in such a way that it breaks stereotypes. We have seen how the political world works with a “get on our side or I will fight you” mentality and we don’t see this as the way forward for the LOVEboldly community.  We are not interested in an “us vs. them” mentality. This problem of division between the LGBT community and the church is systemic and we are convinced it won’t be solved by old methods.  Using polarizing “yes/no” “us/them” language prevents us from moving into caring relationships with one another, where we can together identify the way forward.  This is not to say that we allow oppression to continue, but rather, that we are strategic in the way we address the fundamental issues of disagreement. Doing anything less than approaching the root causes of the grievances between the church and the LGBT community falls short because it allows oppressors to continue oppressing, even if they are not doing so through the legal system, and therefore causes oppression to continue.  We believe that progress is best made through learning to love and serve one another, living in nonviolent tension of disagreement at times, and avoiding engaging in polarizing practices which add to the victimizing mentality we seek to subvert. We respect that many disagree with this approach and will not be able to support our work, but we favor focusing on a faith-based approach to uniting with our brother and sisters in the faith, rather than focusing on the things that divide us.

Most of our work takes place in living rooms, meeting spaces at public libraries, and out to dinner at local restaurants where we talk honestly and openly about these issues face-to-face with one another. Sometimes people get angry with each other, sometimes we all seem to agree, and sometimes we can’t seem to agree on hardly anything, but through all of that we continue our friendships which are growing deeper all the time. We may fight vigorously for a given position (sometimes over questions of legal rights or moral perspectives), but we find that at the end of these discussions folks still want to go out for ice cream together because we know that we cannot change someone’s mind in a lasting way unless we are willing to be their friend through even the most severe disagreements. After all, Jesus shared a table with both Simon the Zealot and Matthew the Tax Collector, and neither of them were the same after their time with him and each other.

It is important to point out that LOVEboldly is not simply a bunch of straight people trying to make decisions for LGBT folks. Our board and our closest advisers/supporters include LGBT folks, who themselves have a variety of opinions on the matters at hand. We have LGBT folks in relationships, folks who have chosen celibacy, folks who believe that legal rights are terribly important, and folks who think they take a back seat to relationally-based social change.  Conversely, we are not a bunch of LGBT folks making decisions about the church.  We are seminary students or graduates, active in our home churches, and taking great personal risks in our spiritual communities and our closest relationships to try to bring a message that is balanced, rooted in a robust Christology, and challenging stereotypes.  A few of us are ‘straight’, a few of us are not.  But we all have very close friends or family members, both in the LGBT community and in the church, who are deeply affected by the way we chart forward.  This plurality doesn’t constrain us.  It makes us better at carefully nuancing what we say and do.  It makes us more respectful of the many perspectives held by Christians.  This respectfulness of our differences does not make us less decisive, but it does make us less divisiveWe hold personal beliefs on LGBT rights and sexual morality personally, not as an organization.  As such, some of us have opted to speak openly and publicly about our personal convictions on divisive issues.  Others of us have opted not to, either out of deference for people we love, or out of our own desire to have the same time and space to work through our own internal conflicts which we offer to all who enter our community.

Some Christians find that to vote (or voting at all) for LGBT rights (for instance, the right to marriage) would violate their spiritual and moral convictions.  In these cases, we promote and teach kindness, civility, and intellectual honesty, and we work to correct false stereotypes and both unintentional and intentional marginalizing treatment.  But, we do not seek to change people’s perspectives on the moral validity of same-sex relationships or sexual expression, or their voting choices on equality issues even though, we would argue, the two are perhaps best handled as mutually exclusive decisions.   C.S. Lewis himself, who clearly had a traditional perspective on sexuality and marriage, asserted:

The Christian conception of marriage is one: the other is the quite different question — how far Christians, if they are voters or Members of Parliament, ought to try to force their views of marriage on the rest of the community….My own view is that the Churches should frankly recognise that the majority of the British people are not Christians and, therefore, cannot be expected to live Christian lives. There ought to be two distinct kinds of marriage: one governed by the State with rules enforced on all citizens, the other governed by the Church with rules enforced by her on her own members.”  (Mere Christianity, p. 112)

All of that being said, we leave room for this variety in our midst.  This is meant to be a safe space for us all.  We, as an organization, have found no convincing reason why Christians should not support the legal rights of LGBT people.  Christians supporting legal rights for LGBT folks (even, and perhaps especially, when they disagree on issues related to the morality of LGBT relationships) is one way to begin healing the relationship between the Church and the LGBT community.  In a similar manner, LGBT Christians supporting religious liberties (even, and perhaps especially, when they believe LGBT unions to be blessed of God) is one way to further this healing.   These are matters of the conscience however, so we encourage Christians to consider them carefully in prayer, as they work through the ramifications for themselves, their communities, and their fellow person.

We do not expect that all LGBT folks, nor all Christians for that matter, will support us or like this perspective or the work we are doing, but we hope that folks on all sides can work together with us on specific issues when there is agreement. We know we aren’t the organization for everyone, but we hope to make a safe space for people who think our message and work will provide an avenue for healing, reconciliation, and productive conversations and social action.  Our focus will continue to be on relationships (which of course means we welcome folks who disagree with us), and to that end we will dedicate our resources to finding faithful and effective ways to create opportunities for reconciliation between people who disagree on any of the numerous issues that surround the complicated issues of faith and sexuality. We believe that the only way we all experience freedom is when we learn to see God’s image stamped on each other’s lives, and when none of us feel a need to dominate the other.

Lastly, we know that our philosophy and mission is not the only one, or even perhaps the best one.  There are times when a loud and clear voice must be heard on these very important subjects.  We are thankful for organizations that do not chart the middle road, but who speak truth boldly from both LGBT advocacy organizations and from the church.  We applaud their efforts.  We need a variety of approaches to move reconciliation efforts forward.  But, we are also aware that our voice, the one in the middle, is the one that is most sorely missing and most desperately needed by a particular niche group of people.  There are few places for LGBT individuals and church communities snagged on tough issues to feel they can navigate safely and non-judgmentally with a mediator familiar with the many perspectives which can provide solid support, education, intervention, and communication assistance between the LGBT and conservative evangelical worlds.  We exist for those folks, those individuals, those families, those faith communities – the ones which advocacy organizations and conservative evangelical organizations alike are not able to help.  We want them to have what no other polarizing organization can offer – time, space, and the best information available to help them sort through all the complexities.

These conversations are tough, and we know many of us are upset after the controversy in the weeks past.  Please accept our apologies for anything that may have seemed flippant or uncaring in the midst of the discussions that occurred on Facebook and in other forums.  All of our board members work on LOVEboldly on a volunteer basis, and many of us do it as our second or third job, so we don’t always have the time to craft responses as quickly or fully as we’d like to on the fly.  We also apologize for the messages and comments we have not had the time to respond to.   We have been flooded with questions and haven’t been able to address them all as quickly as we’d like.  We ask for your patience and prayers.  We want to thank each of you who were willing to offer feedback and perspective that was fair and opened the discussion rather than closed it, and we invite you to continue that pattern as you comment below.

There were a few direct concerns and questions that were voiced recently that we want to address for everyone’s clarity.  For the sake of keeping this post as short as possible, we have addressed them on our FAQ page.  You can read the responses to the questions below by checking them out there.

  1. What does LOVEboldly think about reparative therapy or other sexual orientation change efforts?
  2. Does LOVEboldly solicit money from LGBT folks under false pretenses, or try to trick people into believing you champion LGBT rights?  Do you ask for money at Pride?
  3. Is LOVEboldly’s purpose to evangelize?
  4. Is LOVEboldly operating a bait-and-switch program, wherein you befriend LGBT people with the intent to change their orientations?
  5. Does LOVEboldly believe LGBT sexual orientations are sinful?  What about same-sex relationships?
  6. What is LOVEboldly’s policy regarding comments?  How does LOVEboldly monitor comments on the Facebook page or on the blog?

Finally, we want you all to know that today, several weeks after all of this heated debate, what we wish we could do is take communion with you all (at least, with those of you who would want to, and be willing to do such). You are all the beloved of Christ. It is much to our dismay if any desire to take a non-polarizing approach to these very important issues has communicated anything less than that to you.  In the absence of actual bread and wine, please accept this post as our offer of the body and blood of Christ to you, which we joyfully share with each of you, as we continue this very important conversation.  Much love to you all.

COMMENT POLICY:
At LOVEboldly we embrace controversy, dissenting opinions and even a good debate now and then. However, we also value civility, kindness, and respect. Therefore, please feel free to share your opinion, but keep it constructive, considerate, and civilized. If you choose to be rude we will delete your comment. Do so consistently and we will ban you. And yes, we do get to define the terms. 

 

64 thoughts on “A Response To Our Critics

  1. I am very disappointed. After months and months of excuses and delays, you and your organization still steadfastly refuse to openly support the basic Constitutional principle of equality under law. You say you “as an organization, have found no convincing reason why Christians should not support the legal rights of LGBT people”, so if you don’t see any “convincing reason” not to support it, why won’t you? Why won’t you — as an individual and as Christian organization do it? Why can’t you simply say, “Yes, we support equality under law for all people”? Why are you so fearful of doing that?

    • I’m sorry you are disappointed Michael, but I am not sorry about the many people we are able to reach by taking the approach we are taking. They need us and I am thankful they have a place to call ‘home’ with us. I’m not sure what to say further, as I think the post above fully explains our reasons for not taking the stance you rally for us to take. Also, I would point out that we are not denying people equality, as if we are rallying people AGAINST equality. In fact, if anything, I think the post above challenges conservative Christians to consider doing precisely the opposite.

      Perhaps this moment is a parting of ways for us. We don’t seem to be the organization you had hoped for us to be, but you are our brother in Christ, and for that, we are thankful.

      • Bottom line: It is not OK to try present yourself as a ministry to LGBT people while simultaneously refusing to support their right to equality under law — anymore than it would be OK to minister to racial minorities or women while refusing to support their right to the same thing.

  2. “While we do not take a formal position as an organization regarding LGBT rights specifically, we do affirm that all people are worthy of dignity, fair treatment, kindness, and respect.”

    Heidi: What you seem to fail to understand is that denying LGBT people (or any person) equality under law is NOT treating them as worthy of “fair treatment and respect”. Denying ANY person full equality under law (or refusing to support it, as you do)is in and of itself unfair and unjust.

    • Michael,

      It seems (to me at least, I could be wrong) that LB is NOT denying LGBT people equality or even denying the necessity of it; quite the opposite, based on this:
      “Christians supporting legal rights for LGBT folks (even, and perhaps especially, when they disagree on issues related to the morality of LGBT relationships) is one way to begin healing the relationship between the Church and the LGBT community… These are matters of the conscience however, so we encourage Christians to consider them carefully in prayer, as they work through the ramifications for themselves, their communities, and their fellow person.”

      Based upon this statement, I would say that LB DOES support equal legal rights for LGBT people, because it is an action that recognizes the validity of LGBT people and their need to be treated equally. However, if a Christian is not at a point where s/he can support LGBT equality based on his/her personal religious convictions, LB will NOT try to force, push, and/or guilt them into changing their mind; decisions that are made in that way are not genuine ones.

      Straight people raised in traditional Christian backgrounds are at different levels in their journeys to understanding the LGBT community, and a lot of that is based on what they know about the community. For example, I had a very sheltered traditional conservative Christian upbringing (we were homeschooled and watched Pat Robertson every day if that tells you anything). I didn’t know ANYONE who was LGBT, so for a long time I was strongly against ANY kind of gay rights. But then I got to know some people in the LGBT community, and as I learned about them as people, I began to re-examine my beliefs; as a result, my perspective changed.

      That is what LB is trying to do: to give people on “both sides” (e.g. traditional-minded Christians and people in the LGBT community) a place where they can come together, learn more about each other, and change for the better based on their increased understanding. To that end, LB points out that if Christians want to heal the relationship w/the LGBT community, supporting equal legal rights is an important step; however, they will not try to push someone to come to that conclusion if they’re not there yet.

        • K Morgan: If, as you suggest, “LB DOES support equal legal rights for LGBT people, because it is an action that recognizes the validity of LGBT people and their need to be treated equally”, why won’t Heidi say so?

          • I am not asking Heidi or LOVEboldly to “push” anyone into supporting equality under law. If they oppose it, that’s their right. I am asking HEIDI to support the principle. Period. Not asking her to fight for it. Or promote it. Or “push” it. Just asking her to stand for it.

    • Hi Michael,

      You may know me from conversations on Dr. Throckmorton’s blog. I am not Heidi .. nor do I speak for Love Boldly.

      However I think it is important to point out that often in conversations with conservative Churches or conservative Christians … this political issue is often a deal breaker .. In other words .. if the person finds out that your organization is politically supportive of gay marriage then the conversation is over. It seems to me that Love Boldly’s mission is to have and promote conversation … so to take an absolute stand on this would be counter-productive to their mission. I think it likely that within their diverse staff a positive political position on gay rights exists. I think it also is likely that their method of handling disagreement can serve as a road map to others who may hotly disagree on multiple issues concerning lgbt folks. From my own experience in this area I can tell you that Christians do typically take baby steps on this and often end up in a fully affirming position on gay rights politically even if there theological view is different. But those steps often won’t happen if the political issue is front and center. (full disclosure .. I am one of those people who took that journey .. )

      Going deeper ..

      Some Christians likely have a certain very personal and thoughtful construct by which they form their political positions. Others, however, have become very ingrained with promoting particular political positions based on false and .. at times .. deliberately twisted information . They have become caught up in the polarization of today’s culture .. are easily swayed by sound bite ideologies .. and often act from a defensive posture .. and/or one of fear. Quite frankly, the best way to counter that is often through them meeting online and/or in person the very people that have sadly been demonized even by some who call themselves Christians. Discovering that the “bad people” are not bad after-all and that the “good people” that they were listening to are not so good after-all (and/or were very wrong)can be quite a shock .. thus this journey takes time. It may even end with the political goal you hope for. But .. as I said in my previous paragraph .. in many cases .. if you start with this goal an individual may stop before they even get started.

      I admit to having been more than a little bit concerned when LoveBoldly interviewed Alan Chambers a while back and I openly expressed skepticism here and elsewhere about this. But I don’t need to tell you how that story ended. In looking over their FAQ’s .. it seems that LoveBoldly is much more clear on many positions then perhaps an organization such as The Marin Foundation is. This is not meant to be a critique of the Marin Foundation but I have sometimes been frustrated by them as they appear to not have a concrete view on anything. There are multiple ministries /resources out there such as Wendy Gritter / New Direction, Dr. Throckmorton, Kathy Baldock (CanyonWalker Connections), and Misty Irons with her musingson blog. Each of these(along with LoveBoldly and many others) takes a unique approach that is effective across a broader range of people then what would happen if each followed the exact same road map /pattern.

      God bless,

      Dave Earp

      • Dave: Yes, I know that the basic Constitutional principle of equality under law is a “deal breaker” for many conservative Christians. Just like it was for equality for women or racial minorities.

      • Dave,
        Thanks so much for sharing. I have valued your feedback and constructive criticism over the past months and am so thankful for your voice or reflection and examination here of the many complexities. I’m so glad our paths have crossed and look forward to further interactions. You make a point which we make in many of our presentations, that the steps when engaging with those with whom we disagree is first to attend to their needs, second to serve their needs, third to build a friendship based on sharing honest perspectives and viewpoints, and fourth to reconcile to each other and towards an understanding that together we can serve others who are in need. Thanks again for sharing Dave, and I look forward to further interactions!

    • I want to make it clear that I am not asking Heidi or LOVEboldly to specifically endorse “gay marriage” or any specific legislative or political initiative. It’s the basic PRINCIPLE that people deserve equality under law that is the question here. That she refuses to support.

        • Actually, you did NOT clearly answer that question. In fact, you steadfastly REFUSE to support equality under law for all people, regardless of sexual orientation or religious belief. If you DO support that principal, why not say so?

          • Quite frankly, Michael – your comments represent the very subtle aggression that many (most) people in my own conservative Christian community have come to associate with the LGBT community – e.g., My way or the highway. Or in your case, “Answer me!”

            My own experience with LGBT friends, mentors, colleagues and co-authors says otherwise – as I’ve experienced remarkably open, beautiful souls. And yet your insistence on others complying with the terms of YOUR views is, itself, a not-so-subtle aggression that certainly isn’t lost on other readers of your comments (even those reading it a year later, like myself). For me, at least, you’re missing the whole point of what Love Boldly is doing…To get aggressive with an authentic attempt to cultivate dialogue (which, by definition, does not advocate for particular decisions) – is to miss entirely the point.

            If you want to find people who will answer YOUR question (and in the way YOU want) – the culture will provide you with plenty of willing individuals. If you want to find others attempting to do what Love Boldly is doing – you’d be hard pressed to find any…So why badger them to handle things the way everyone else does?!

            My two cents (one year later)
            –Jacob (a new Love Boldly fan)

    • Hi Mike,
      LOVEboldly does not support many statements on many different moral, political, or religious topics which affect us all: abortion, infant baptism, transubstantiation, pacifism, social reforms, etc. Not speaking on a topic does not automatically imply a stance one way or another, it only suggests that to do so would distract from our focal point, which is teaching Christians and LGBT folks to engage these topics with civility and kindness with one another.

      • Equality under law is not the same as “many different moral, political, or religious topics which affect us all: abortion, infant baptism, transubstantiation, pacifism, social reforms, etc.”

        I stand for equality under law for ALL people, regardless about what they believe about those “moral, political or religious topics”. Why won’t you?

  3. I think Heidi is saying that Christians should vote for LGBT rights under the law. She’s not saying that she doesn’t support it at all, if anything, I think she is saying the opposite. The “no convincing reason” is for the benefit of those who believe it to be sinful and have no desire to separate moral and ethical law. Even if a person believes it to be sinful under the doctrine of their religious affiliation, it does not mean that government can deny a group of people legal status based on a moral rather than ethical code of conduct.

    • Thanks Misti! I am thankful for your friendship. For the record, the entire LOVEboldly team helped to write and edit this piece, so credit is due to them as well. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts here, friend!

      • Misti: If Heidi is truly saying that she believes that “Christians should vote for LGBT rights under the law”, let her clearly say so. If she’s “not opposing equality under law for ALL people and is actually “saying the opposite”, let her say so. So far, she has steadfastly refused to say so. She has never said clearly: “I support equality under law for ALL people regardless of sexual orientation or religious belief”. Why is that? Would she refuse to clearly support equality under law for racial minorities or women?

        • Michael, I think you are completely missing the point of LB’s stance. They have clearly stated that they are avoiding statements and positions that would polarize their organization. As others before me have said, for her organization to formally side with equality for all under the law would place them directly opposite of Christians who believe that not all should have equality under the law. As a result, Christians who hold opposite views might then begin to ask why they won’t support a stance on God’s laws instead. A third party with different thinking then might step in and ask why their views are not supported formally. Do you see where this is headed? That is exactly what LB is trying to avoid. Their purpose is to bring people together to discuss and bridge the gap. They have identified that this is an impossible goal under certain circumstances. That is respectable.

          I am a straight, Christian male. I believe all people should have equality under the law. I am not afraid to say it. But, and this is a very big one, I know that I have put myself in direct opposition to a great many people by taking that stance. I’m not going to get into my personal views, but I believe in equality for all under the law. Christians need to understand that they will never reach or change anyone by litigating against them. As the quote from C.S. Lewis wisely stated, it does not make sense for Christians to impose laws on people who do not hold the same beliefs.

          I grew up in a conservative home. My parents will not discuss this topic with me. That’s not the kind of thing people just don’t talk about in my home. It’s the kind of conversation we don’t have because they believe I’m wrong and they treat me in a condescending way because of it. I have Christian friends of all ages who are exactly the same. Now think about what I just told you. I am a straight, Christian male who agrees with these people on most other points of morality and religion and they will not even talk to me about it. How do you think they would treat a stranger who does not share any of those other bonds? Right there, the entire discussion is shut down. That is what LB is trying to avoid. Would any of the people I just described visit an LB campfire, discussion, or session of some sort? I don’t know. I can say with certainty those people would not even consider the idea if they knew beforehand that LB formally supported equality under the law. Many of them would probably walk out if they discovered it during the event.

          I don’t mean to say this is right or wrong. I’m just saying what it is in reality.

          I guess I’m a little confused about what you are trying to achieve in pushing Heidi for a statement. There seems to be this sentiment in society as a whole that someone cannot truly agree or understand you if they do not support everything in exactly the same way you do. That really saddens me. I think it is obvious that LB agrees with you. I agree with you. I wholeheartedly agree with you. Something in me changes when I encounter this mentality though. If I didn’t feel so strongly that equality under the law is the correct position, I would disagree with you merely because of how militant you are in pursuing a formal statement. I’m not trying to start a fight. I came to discuss. I think somebody here needs to say that. I’ll be honest, I don’t really have much intent to get sucked into a more heated version of this.

          • Joshua so I will ask you the same that I have Heidi and can’t seem to get an answer. Replace gay with African American or Jewish. Would it be acceptable to not take a stance on their equality? If people are that resistant that they won’t even talk about it then nothing LB is doing will change that. You are correct that there are Christians who feel they should be able to discriminate. And not taking a stance on it gives them cover to continue to do that. A bolder statement would be hey we are evangelical Christians too and we don’t believe in discrimination and here is why.

          • Tim, I feel like that is a question designed to corner someone into agreeing with your position. It’s not that it’s a wrong question, it’s just kind of diverting the conversation to a different topic. You’re mixing personal values and morality with the stance that guides an organization. As much as I hate to say it this way, I think it would be acceptable to say exactly what LB has said if you interchange either of those concepts instead. If the circumstance is that Christians are litigating against African Americans or Jewish and the goal of LB is to start discussion between those groups without polarizing, then yes, it would be acceptable to take this exact same stance.

            Since I keep seeing this same question come up from so many others, it makes me want to extend the question. Would you extend your statement to include unborn children? And if so, would you profess that as part of your personal mission statement?

          • This is an easy one for me. With gay people or African American or Jews we are talking about sentient human beings so unborn children are a red herring. And let’s be honest the reason the question is dodged is because it is absurd that people would question whether black people or Jews should have rights. No one would call that a middle position. But somehow you have decided it is a middle position not to support equality for gay people and bizarrely claiming that as middle ground

          • This may be easy for you, but it is not for me. It is not a red herring at all. It is exactly why I suggest expanding the definition. Why do you get to be the judge of sentience? And why does your definition of sentience override a basic right to life? Why do you get to be the judge of who is allowed to live any more than a Christian should be the judge of your rights? At the most basic level, all humans were once one cell, then two cells, then billions. Isn’t that the common tie that binds us? We’re all human. Sexuality, religion, race, or any other trait had no factor. Life itself should be equally protected under law.

            The point of making the statement is not to go down the rabbit trail of abortion. Honestly. The point is that we can both agree on something but not on everything and still coexist under a common goal. I think the way you answered my question is completely wrong. I think it dodges a topic that I also feel quite strongly about. However, I’m not going to discount you personally in any way because your belief statement doesn’t totally line up with mine. I don’t need you to change your position to still support what you are doing. I think you need to give LB some credit there. Both of you have the same end goal in mind. You just have different means to the end.

            Everything else aside, you’re still missing the point of the LB mission statement. To use a cliche phrase, you’re comparing apples to oranges. LB is not claiming to be an organization whose purpose is to change the law. LB’s mission is to facilitate change between two groups who have stood diametrically opposed. As hard as this is for you to accept, taking a polarizing position defeats that goal. As individuals, I believe the people who make up LB may very much agree with what you are asking.

            Surely you have lived in this world long enough to realize that if an individual makes a statement of belief, especially when that individual is the head of an organization or company, that statement also gets applied to the entire organization. If Heidi were to go on record saying that she personally supports equality under the law then people would begin saying that LB is run by people who support equality under the law. Have you played the telephone game? Somewhere down the line, that statement becomes “LB supports equality for all under the law.” What you call dodging is probably more accurately called tact. When people start looking at LB that way, then Christians stop attending their events. When Christians stop attending their events, then the goal of LB is defeated. Do you understand this?

          • If Christians won’t come because the group supports equality under the law then why should we believe that LB is doing any good. It would be like a group trying to be segregationist together with blacks in the 1960s. If they don’t believe blacks are equal or deserve equality meeting them isn’t going to change. In fact in this case it opens gay people to abuse because they believe they can change them and will come in with that attitude.

          • LB really has no say in what mindset any party comes with. They do set rules for their discussions to keep things in order. When moderating between various groups, I wouldn’t expect that much more than that can be done.

            As to the effectiveness of the organization, I think you can find information about that in other posts here. The work speaks for itself.

          • Joshua, you said: “For her organization to formally side with equality for all under the law would place them directly opposite of Christians who believe that not all should have equality under the law.”

            Yes it might.

            So when it comes down to a choice of WHO to alienate (anti-equality Christians or pro-equality LGBT people)LOVEboldy chooses NOT to offend anti-equality Christians. They apparently matter more. Tells you something about LOVEboldy’s real priorities…

          • Actually, I’d argue it says more about our target demographic – the folks who are nested within those congregations who need to receive more of God’s love! But, feel free to make whatever assumptions you’d like.

  4. Heidi, I am so disappointed in this decision.

    At this point, I cannot imagine what it is you and this group offers to gay and lesbian people, since you will not stand for their equality. How can you “affirm that all people are worthy of dignity, fair treatment, kindness, and respect” but refuse to promote it? That’s just empty words. You say you want to “build relationships,” but it’s not a relationship of equals…and your organization is not interested in doing what’s needed to change that.

    What kind of “boldness” will not go on the record stating clearly that all of God’s children should be legally equal? What kind of “love” says we affirm you, but we don’t want to be involved in making sure you are treated fairly, equally and with justice? Love and boldness is more than an empty hug and an apology for the way someone has been treated in the past. You don’t want to be seen as deceptive, but that’s the clear impression I get from reading this statement.

    Scriptures tell us to work for justice. Jesus calls us to work for justice.
    I think history will show your organization was little more than polite bigotry, wrapped in a false, wish-washy concept of love. My pastor used to tell us that trying to walk in the middle of the road just makes us a target for traffic in both directions. From reading this statement, that’s what your group has done.

    I am disappointed, and from this point forward, I will try to make sure unsuspecting gay and lesbian people are informed of the actual work…and the lack of true support…offered by your group.

    • Bill – I hope you will forgive me for reiterating some of the things I have already said on Facebook. I am sorry to hear you are disappointed, though I had anticipated it. As I said in the post, we are not the organization for everyone. We do support others who are taking a different approach, but also recognize we are meant to reach a different demographic than some other voices which you probably appreciate more.

      We are not being silent. We are boldly loving ALL people, even the ones with whom we disagree. We clearly encourage personal conviction and action in this piece. Just because we take an organizational tone of peace and healthy conversation does not mean we have left our convictions or passion at the door.
      The facts remain – we are reaching into communities now which could not be reached if we opted to polarize. I refuse to leave behind those who need us the most in those communities. Perhaps you would rather have us focus on championing gay rights than to do work which is actually helping people in our local context – people like you. These people have been messaging me all day begging me not to lose the middle ground approach, because they need us to stand there, even when we’re attacked by folks like you.

      I wish you could read the emails I am getting. So many in our community flatly disagree with you – not on the importance of rights, of course, but on the importance of making that the focal point of the conversation. Our conversation is about how to be civil with those with whom we disagree – whether it’s related to politics or morality. I’m sticking with the folks who are begging us to continue to stand in the middle, the place where very few want to stand. Feel free to polarize if you want and respond to the hatred you’ve unfortunately been dealt in your life with trying to tear us down. I refuse to respond in kind.

      • Heidi,
        No one is asking you to champion gay rights. What we would like to see is a simple statement on where you stand on equal rights for gay people. You can continue to do the same work you currently do while making it clear where you stand. It is called trust.

  5. What is your position on ending discrimination against LGBT individuals in employment and housing? Specifically, would you call for legislation that offers protection in these situations? Would you advocate for individuals who had been discriminated against in the public sphere in employment and housing? These rights are vital to a person’s dignity and well-being.

    • Hi William,
      Thanks for your question. We encourage Christians to think carefully and prayerfully about their involvement in ending discriminatory practices against all people, LGBT folks included. But, it’s not the particular goal of LOVEboldly to work for policy changes (even though some of our leaders and members of our community do indeed work very hard for these worthy efforts on their own time). Does that answer your question?

      • I am glad that you encourage Christians to “think carefully and prayerfully about their involvement in ending discriminatory practices against all people.” What about you personally? Do you oppose discriminatory practices against LGBT people? If so, don’t you consider inequality under law to be a “discriminatory practice”? Do you personally oppose inequality under law?

    • Jerry, thanks for that thoughtful question. To be honest, I have not yet read it. I appreciate you offering the link. I suspect, however, that we will not make a formal organizational ‘support’ on these sorts of topics because it subverts the very core of our message which is to undo polarizing practices by making ‘stances’ our first point of conversation. We think rights for all human beings are of utmost importance, of course, but it’s not the particular goal of LOVEboldly to work for policy changes (even though some of our leaders and members of our community do indeed work very hard for these worthy efforts).

      • How does supporting basic human rights as outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (free speech, freedom of religion, legal equality, etc.)”subvert the very core of your message”? How does supporting those basic human subvert what you are trying to do? I think you owe it to those people you are trying to help to support their basic rights as human beings. I would recommend that your read the Declaration.

  6. What this organization is doing is bridging a cavernous gap between two groups of people who have struggled for years to find any common ground. They’re trying to encourage dialogue instead of dogma.

    Sadly, I’ve seen both Christian and LGBT activists plow over people whose views are different than theirs, but I think what LB is trying to do in not taking an official political stance is be able to build rapport with both. If they draw a hard line politically, it’s a guarantee that they’ll alienate one group or the other, which is the complete opposite of their mission and goals.

    This is not a political rallying group. This is an org that is trying to build a union between diametrically opposed people, and I applaud them for their efforts. They won’t be perfect, but they’re trying their hardest to not steamroll ANYONE in an effort to show love to EVERYONE. I think that’s pretty obvious.

    • Jason,
      I’m so thankful you have caught our mission and our vision. I appreciate your support, my friend, and am thankful for the ways you’ve given me opportunities to work on anti-bullying efforts. We make a great team, if I do say so myself! I’m thankful for your friendship and the thoughts you’ve shared here!

        • I agree with you. My view on marriage is that the government should just stay out of it all together.

          To me, when government grants special advantages to anyone, there are a lot of people missing out. Take the first time home buyers’ incentive. I bought my house one year before that, so I missed out on $5K of free money. (Obviously not as important as marriage, but, making a point.)

          Same thing with marriage. Government should not give anyone special treatment just because they’re married. As a single person there are lots of things I miss out on.

          To me, marriage is up to you and your partner (and church if applicable) to define. What would level the playing field is to just remove government from granting special rights to people who qualify for their standard of what marriage is.

          But, the real point is that LB is not trying to deny anyone rights – they just are saying that there’s not really a viable political solution to this issue. Marriage should be a personal union, not a political one.

          • Jason, it’s easy (and a bit cavalier) to say that the government should get out of the marriage business. Maybe that’s true…but since they ARE in the business, and marriages still must go through a civil process, we cannot just ignore the reality that many gay and lesbians are denied that right.

          • Jason what does marriage have to do with this argument. In Kentucky a person can be denied a job, housing, medical care because they are gay. Why LB will not take a stance on this is baffling. To me it tacitly says to the religious people we are ok with you discriminating.

          • Tim and Bill, I was using the marriage topic as an example of just one political issue that’s divisive surrounding this topic.

            Now, if a gay person is denied jobs/medical care/healthcare, etc., I know for a fact that LB would fight this. In fact, I’ve seen them do it. They do stand for equality and fair treatment. They are just choosing not to make a political statement because doing so, sadly, would mean a lot of folks would write them off and not hear another word.

            With their goal being to form inroads to both groups, they truly have to be apolitical. Even the comments here are proof that common ground has yet to be found. Taking a polarizing political view is not the way to rally people or help them have a conversation.

            Politically, we will always disagree. But, I don’t think anyone is questioning whether or not we all should have equal rights to jobs, health and housing. Marriage, as I was trying to point out, is not a human right in my opinion. It’s a commitment you make to a partner.

            From earlier in the post: “While we do not take a formal position as an organization regarding LGBT rights specifically, we do affirm that all people are worthy of dignity, fair treatment, kindness, and respect. We find it to be truly unfortunate that LGBT rights are still seen as directly in opposition to religious rights.”

            That’s the bottom line: they’re seen as “in opposition.” Siding with one group over the other politically will do nothing but further divide. I love people on both sides of this fence, and I truly think if everyone weren’t so dogmatic, but could agree to disagree and have a discussion, we’d all find we like each other a lot.

          • Jason I am sorry but there is no proof whatsoever that LB believes in these things. By your logic even them fighting against that discrimination would turn people away. So if as you claim they fight for these things why not say it. It is a cop out to say they do believe in but we can’t say it.
            I find it ironic that except for Lu almost everyone on here are straight people with straight privilege telling the gay people to sit down and shut up.

    • Tim, I hope you don’t think that is what I was trying to say at all. (Sit down and shut up). Couldn’t be farther from the truth. What LB is doing is that creating a chance for people to have a discussion in a safe space. I would hope that the Christians that are here are not trying to proselytize, hate, discriminate or malign, but share their thoughts and explain where they’re coming from, and would expect the same from the LGBT community members. But I do think the comments in this message are proof that there is still a huge divide between Christian and LGBT circles, and I believe it’s because both sides refuse to put their shields and swords down and to find common ground. I realize it’s sad, but to many in the Christian community, saying “we support gay marriage” means swords come out, just like saying “we do not support gay marriage” does the same in the LGBT community. If LB were ENTIRELY about LGBT rights, it would be imperative that they take a firm stand. But you have to realize that half of the audience they’re trying to reach are very traditional and will not hear another word if they were to make that hard-line distinction. What’s hard is that I know the hearts of the people that run LB, and I think you’d be surprised how much you have in common—it’s just their public statement that can’t alienate either group. I got nothin’ but love for ya, though, and honestly enjoying our discussion.

      • Jason the problem is they are alienating one side ours. I bet if at Pride they put up a sign saying we don’t take a position on equal rights for gay people you’d have a lot more pissed people. For the record many of the gay people posting on here were actually part of the ex-gay movement before they accepted themselves. Michael was one of the original founders of Exodus so they know of what they speak.

        • “Now, if a gay person is denied jobs/medical care/healthcare, etc., I know for a fact that LB would fight this.”

          I do not believe this is in alignment with their earlier statement from Heidi:

          “We encourage Christians to think carefully and prayerfully about their involvement in ending discriminatory practices against all people, LGBT folks included. But, it’s not the particular goal of LOVEboldly to work for policy changes (even though some of our leaders and members of our community do indeed work very hard for these worthy efforts on their own time).”

          It seems to me that these issues of medical care, housing, and job discrimination are of the same ilk as marriage to those at LB. Which would mean they take no formal stance as an organization, because to say that a gay person has a right to medical care or being employed would be the same as saying a gay person has a right to the rights of marriage. So they, instead, hope that sick and homeless gay people will draw closer to whole and homed straight people, and they will all be strengthened by sharing their stories lovingly in the constructive tension.

          All that to say, I don’t think that Jason’s statement was true. While some people *in* LB may fight for equal housing opportunities and such, LB, as an organization, does not by any means fight job discrimination, or discrimination in housing or medical care. This was my understanding of the issue. Was it incorrect?

          • Caleb,
            You are right to assume that the work of LOVEboldly is not centered on ending discriminatory practices through direct political intervention, but rather, that we address discriminatory behaviors in conversations with friends (and even enemies) with a relational approach intent on creating thoughtfulness and awareness that can begin to heal the divide.

          • Also, not to beat a dead horse, but I am confused about this return comment in light of what you said in the blog-post itself:

            How do you “address discriminatory behaviors in conversations with friends (and even enemies) with a relational approach intent on creating thoughtfulness and awareness that can begin to heal the divide,” while “not seek[ing] to change people’s perspectives on the moral validity of same-sex relationships or sexual expression, or their voting choices on equality issues even though, we would argue, the two are perhaps best handled as mutually exclusive decisions.”

  7. The U.N. Declaration was based upon Christian values of love and justice for all God’s people.

    If U.S. conservatives can no longer honor international human rights that they once supported, then they have departed from traditional Christian values.

  8. I’ll apologize in advance for not being much for eloquent discourse . . . It’s just not my forté.

    Back off people! LoveBoldly has set out as an organization to fill a need they see in the world. You are not the boss. They don’t have to do things your way. If you want an organization that does what you want all the time, form one.

    I’m quite sure Heidi and the rest of the board have prayerfully and thoughtfully considered how to best serve where they see a need, so just let it go.

    • Why do we have to “back off?” Maybe they have “prayerfully and thoughtfully” made this statement, but as a member of their target audience (Christian who is gay), I think I can voice my disappointment, my thoughts and my opinions. And why are not just as prayerful and thoughtful?

    • By refusing to uphold their human rights, LB has now violated the dignity of Jews, blacks, Sikhs, and countless other outsiders.

      This “back off” command is entirely unlike the action of the Good Samaritan — and your willingness to deny life and liberty to others, in pursuit of your own vanity, brings to mind Matthew 25:41-45:

      41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

      42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,

      43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

      44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

      45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

      • Hi,

        I have a rather long comment at the bottom of the page so I will keep this short.

        Jesus never said one thing about the abolition of slavery. He used master / slave parables and examples through-out His ministry so He was well aware of this horrid practice. So using your logic and snap judgment Jesus was a bigot.

        …….

        Now, I don’t believe that for one minute and I suspect you don’t either. And don’t tell me He didn’t know .. He’s God’s son .. He had to know. So it is likely that He had different goals and purposes that do not match your logic and quick judgment and do not add up to bigotry. The same principles likely apply here.

        God bless,

        Dave

    • Amen, Susan. ‘Back off’ is precisely what you say to someone who is being aggressive, Bill and Michael. It baffles me why you cannot see that were LB to do what you DEMAND, it would destroy’s it’s ability to do this work…

  9. I thought I would jump in here again .. I am just putting thishere as I wasn’t sure which conversation thread to jump in on. Again .. I do not speak for Heidi nor for Love Boldy .. But I do speak as one who understands the difficulty of maintaining a middle position so that dialogue can occur.

    I think it is clear that LoveBoldly recognizes the dignity and worth of every human being regardless of their orientation, gender variance, or moral position. The problem with the language of the “rights of equality” is that a position of the “rights of equality” typically equals a position of affirmation of gay marriage. So it is impossible to say one without, by implication, making a statement on the other. That is how our polarized culture thinks at the present time. So to take such a position can be problematic for the Christians they are trying to reach who have not entered any real dialog with real people and are instead relying on the often false political rhetoric surrounding this issue. Christians often view rights differently than non-Christians. So when you speak the language of rights to Christians they usually interpret them as ‘God given rights’ (similar to what we find in the language of the Declaration of Independence). Thus, a position for the ‘rights of equality’ is typically interpreted as a position that affirms the right of gay marriage which then (in their thinking) equates to a God affirming position on it. This is the main reason why many Christians oppose all of this. They are unable to separate one from the other. Obviously the Christian who has been taught about the alleged “gay agenda” is going to react poorly to such language.. re: “rights of equality”. You could say “So what!!” but it is those Christians that Loveboldly is likely seeking to reach. These Christians are the ones that stubbornly want to keep things as they are out of fear .. prejudice … and misinformation. The other problem is assuming that the “equality of rights” is the only course to gay rights in the political realm. There is more than one path to what you seek. Christians can put their theology and its application to politics together differently. They may .. in their theology … not be in favor of gay rights but be in favor of religious freedom. They may recognize the bigger picture as citizens of the United States .. that part of the freedom we enjoy is the tolerance of other viewpoints in the laws of our country. And/or they may realize that an offensive political position runs counter-productive to Christ’s command to go and make disciples. There are other constructs to this but .. again .. in order to get to this place people have to know and care about lgbt folks first and for many to do that they need to be enlightened where they are .. which is often inside a fortress of fear constructed by the false scare tactic claims of many who oppose gay rights.

    Now granted some folks like Misty Irons and her husband(see Musingson website) have decided to engage this with a strong political statement that supports gay rights and gay marriage. (Actually Misty put up the statement on her website and her pastor husband got in trouble for it.) This ultimately cost them his leadership position in the church. To this you might say .. “Well and good .. they upheld gay rights politically (even though they view it differently theologically) and were willing to suffer for it.” On the other hand they *lost* their voice in that church. Now God will continue to work with them and open new doors but this is an example of the plusses and minuses of making decisions in this area. What you say about it and the decisions you make effect what audience you will be able to reach / what audience will be willing to listen. This is a position of strategy .. not a position of bigotry. A decision to posture your ministry to meet a particular audience need not IMHO be interpreted as a slight to the lgbt folks with whom you are friends and for whom you hope to open closed hearts and closed doors.

    A look at history may be helpful here. I admit that the use of Martin Luther King (in the more recent post) may not have been my first choice .. But even Martin Luther King had his detractors .. there were those who wanted him to do more .. there were others who wanted him to do less. Each of those groups were very passionate about what they thought he should be doing. Obviously Martin Luther King took a clear stand for rights from a more political activist standpoint. But let’s back up a bit in history and look at other heroes in this. Abraham Lincoln is called the great emancipator. But it is clear in some of his speeches that he did not (appear to) fully support equality .. nor equal voting rights .. nor interracial marriage. Now whether he did this as a strategic political move in a society that was highly prejudiced on this issue or whether he actually did not support some of these rights is a debatable point. If you haven’t seen it I would urge you to see the movie “Lincoln” which .. despite some likely Hollywood embellishments .. gives us a more complete picture into the dynamics of the day and the compromising that was done in order to abolish slavery .. an important step toward full equality. If you want .. we can go further back to Thomas Jefferson who .. though some Christians view as being opposed to slavery … actually had no intent of living among people of a different race and instead wanted to send them out of the country. The point being that a closer look at history on civil rights issue reveals a more nuanced and strategic approach than how we tend to paint it after the passage of time.

    Some clarifications here….

    I am not on LoveBoldly’s board so I really can’t speak for them. I have been to one of their sessions (which was excellent). I do believe they have a strategy (not a political one like the examples I gave) but the principles are the same .. Re: To posture your ministry /cause in a way that your target audience can hear you and make forward progress. Their purpose, as I see it, is to facilitate dialog and potential change in the hearts and mind of people. People in many churches don’t know how to do this and are .. in fact … often afraid to even talk about it to their fellow members. They fear being condemned or having their (gay) children condemned if they talk to the members. In their search to find someone else to talk to they may encounter a fully affirming person that they are not ready for and an all or nothing approach. So they often suffer in secrecy and / or silence. From what I see .. LoveBoldly steps into the middle of that and provides communication handles crafted for folks in these situations who are often suffering in silence. As I said earlier .. a strategy for effectiveness to the people you are called by God to reach need not be considered a slight to the lgbt folks with whom you are friends and for whom you hope to open closed hearts and closed doors.

    If a ministry that can walk into the heart of an uncertain (and perhaps homophobic) church and open their eyes to the personhood of gay folks and show them how to speak in a loving manner is something that moves you and you want to support it .. then do so. If not there are other ministries out there … each crafted to meet a target audience. History shows that there is not one group or person that did it all .. Instead there were multiple people and groups .. sometimes working together .. sometimes separately. Later groups/individuals stood on the shoulders of progress that the earlier folks had made. So pick where you want to stand in this and realize that it will take everyone working together to overcome the bigotry, prejudice, and misunderstandings in this area.

    Peace and God bless,

    Dave

  10. An organization that refuses to uphold the human rights of Jews, Sikhs, blacks, or any other group, is in no way bold or loving.

    In fact, it is in direct violation of Jesus’ parable of the good Samaritan, Luke 10:29-37.

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