We ended the previous post with understanding the difficulty LGBTQ persons of faith have in the reconciliation of their gender/sexual identity with their faiths. Now, we look at some paths of reconciliation.
In the face of this seemingly unseemly conflict, there are two well-known responses people have when it comes to reevaluating the relationship between their faith and the gender/sexual identity. Namely, they are the choices whether to remain in faith or not to remain in faith.
A difficult task for the family and friends of LGBT folk is that they must accept the scenario that a person may ‘lose’ their faith when coming out.
Perhaps it is better that we reframe this situation. We want to avoid deficit language like “losing,” as if a person going through a faith transition results in a detriment to them. It may be a detriment to family and friends, but it may not be to the person coming out. I prefer using spatial metaphors such as “away” or “towards.” It recognizes that faith and non-faith are locations that have paths to each other, and often times the paths intersect.
However, the transition away from a faith tradition can be—and in my experience/observation is usually—a painful procedure. This is because faith communities expand the definition of family for its participants. Because such communities share a common faith tradition, the bonds of community are reinforced by faith. And when communities come together around an ultimate, the bonds of community are often prescribed by that ultimate.
All the more difficult is that the move away from faith is more often caused by the community of faith itself than the faith and theology of the person coming out. But why do communities of faith reject LGBT folk?
It would be easy to simply assign bigotry and chauvinism as the reasons, but reconsider this through the lens of religion as the organizing principle of that which we consider to be ultimate.
If anything were to threaten the integrity of that ultimate, it would be perceived as a legitimate danger. In particular evangelical communities, that ultimacy is tied up in the idea of the inherent inerrancy of the Bible. The absolute integrity of the truth statements in the Bible is a key to understanding an evangelical’s ultimate. The absolute trust and reliability in the church’s doctrine as truth is a key to understanding a catholic’s ultimate.
All of this is to illustrate a problem of religion-as-institution: are these really the ultimates that these faith communities unite around? There is a problem with an ultimate when it means rejecting your own family or friends in its name. This happens when there are bad links in the chains of ultimates.