One of my favorite of Jesus’ parables can be found in Luke 14.
While enjoying a dinner party, Jesus notices how many of the guests are posturing and vying for the most important seats at the table. So what does he do? Throws some major shade, calls them out, and reminds them that “everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (v. 11 ESV).
Then he proceeds to tell the story of a wedding banquet. If you’re familiar with The Revelation of St. John, you’ll recognize the imagery of a wedding feast traditionally understood as symbolism of the culmination of God’s kingdom in the union of the Son and the Church.
In this parable, a man holds a banquet for all his friends, but after offering a plethora of lame excuses, none of them show up.
To prevent the evening from being a total waste, the man asks his servant to go out into the streets and offer a free meal to those generally pushed to the fringes of society — in this case, the poor and the sick.
His servant returns and reports back “still there is room” (v. 22 ESV). The master says, “Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet” (v. 23-24 ESV).
I think this is a such a compelling portrayal of the gospel — an open invitation for those who need a meal to come and eat freely. But what’s so countercultural about this gospel is that it is open to everyone, and the people you’d expect to be at the meal don’t always show up for abundant life.
This is evidenced in Jesus’ life. It wasn’t those who were exalted by tradition and man-made religion that truly understood Christ’s merciful message. God-fearing people trapped in the fog of their own perceptions and prejudices missed the Messiah and his wedding party.
But in this topsy-turvy kingdom, it’s the people that have been uninvited their entire lives who are welcomed as honored guests.
God’s presence is a home for the lonely, and the gospel is a safe haven for the marginalized. Sadly, however, our churches are very much the opposite.
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Largely in the American evangelical church, LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, etc.) people are considered invisible. Especially in the Bible belt believer’s mind, they exist only outside the walls of the church, and they live in deliberate, unrepentant rebellion against God.
Of course we as Christians say the invitation is open for all, but often sexual minorities are excluded. Yeah, we may welcome gay people, but only if they “get healing” and turn straight tout suite.
For many believers, being gay and Christian are mutually exclusive.
So LGBTQ people attending church in conservative contexts are faced with very limited options:
A) sit it in a pew, stay celibate, and deny their gender identity/sexual orientation
B) leave the church and seek refuge in whatever other religious/non-religious context they can find
C) come out of the closet and try to stick it out at their non-affirming church, likely not enjoying the full sacramental rites or the ability to move up the ranks in church leadership
D) find a new affirming (supportive/inclusive) church
But staying in the closet can be hard. Coming out of the closet can be hard. Staying at your conservative church can be hard. Leaving your conservative church can be hard.
Sacrifices abound as LGBTQ people have to jump through religiously imposed hoops just to be able to worship their God in peace. Is this how we welcome people to the table of Christ?
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In 2014, I premiered Sex, Gender, and Identity month (it ran over, so I use “month” loosely) on my blog, and we discussed a myriad of topics including Father’s Day, virginity, egalitarian relationships, biblical customs, gender stereotyping, intimacy, complementarianism, Greco-Roman house codes, and oversharing.
I also published my favorite post to date, “Man Up,” about living outside the rigid gender expectations of a patriarchal society. The whole endeavor was such a growing experience for me as a writer, and the content really seemed to resonate with people since many of us struggle to feel man (or woman) enough.
So for the next month-ish, I’m bringing back this series with a bent towards queer topics. We’ll discuss singleness and sexuality in a larger context as well, but the majority of the focus will be on broadening our perspectives on LGBTQ inclusion within the church.
I’ll be opening up personally about my own pathway to inclusion. To help me out, I’ve invited a gay Christian friend to do a Q&A interview and a lesbian Christian friend to do a piece on her coming out story. I’ll also be doing a post that congregates resources on LGBTQ and faith topics that have helped me on my spiritual journey.
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You may be unfamiliar or uncomfortable with these topics, but I hope and pray that you won’t give up on my blog. The Train of His Robe isn’t becoming an LGBTQ blog; it’s a blog about various topics from life and faith.
The train of the Sovereign’s robe even covers the topics that religious people often ignore out of insecurity, fear, or shame.
I value your readership, but in my efforts to discuss topics of importance, I couldn’t ignore the diversity/equality conversation any longer, as social justice is a major component of a faithful life.
That’s all this is — a simple conversation between gay, straight, queer, and questioning people. We’re just having a meal around a table, sharing the body and the blood between fellow believers.
It’s your choice whether you show up to the wedding banquet or not. When we reject our brothers and sisters and refuse them an invitation to the unconditional love banquet of God, we run the risk of missing out on the feast ourselves — the kaleidoscope beauty of kingdom life.
Y’all, there’s so much more room at the table.
“Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” // Luke 14:15 ESV
“Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” // Revelation 19:9 ESV