Last weekend, I found myself in a gay bar down in Montrose. I was with a good friend of mine, someone who has let me into his world piece by piece. The more he shares with me, the more I understand him and what he goes through every day as a gay man.
He took me to one of his favorite bars. We ordered some drinks and went outside to sit by the gas heaters (it was a nice, cool night). We were soon joined by a couple who engaged us in conversation.
They were dressed up for dinner and had stopped for a drink first. They were meeting some of their friends later. One of the friends joined them before the others. Immediately, I searched for the face of the third man in my memories. Joe (not his real name) introduced himself and after I told him he looked familiar, he said he just had one of those faces.
Joe had been a Southern Baptist preacher. His friend, Evan (not his real name), had been a Southern Baptist youth pastor. All once upon a time, because you can’t be gay and serve God, right?
Joe, Evan and my friend talked God and church for a while – the suffering they’d endured at the hands of the church, and yet they continued to believe in God and spread the Gospel that all, including the LGBT community were precious to Him. They work to reconcile the church with the gay community.
Soon, their two other friends showed up. My friend went in to refill my drink and we began to talk about gay affirming churches. I expressed my frustration that the only place some in the LGBT community could feel welcome was in a bar and not in a church. One of the men sat down next to me and hugged me and said I was in the right place to make the difference I was supposed to make.
I was meeting people on their terms, in their territory and being myself. No pretense. Just love. Acceptance.
My friend returned, and we talked some more and then they left for their dinner, but not until there were hugs and blessings. I laughed at the irony. Fellowship at a gay bar.
Actually, I’d rather be in a bar loving people as they are than in a congregation that excludes based on human judgment.
I realize this is controversial and heresy for some. That’s ok. I’ve already made my feelings known in a prior post- Human Affirming Human.
Please take a step back as a church and realize that the “lost” you seek to save rarely cross your threshold because you continually tell them they are not worthy to be there. I am not an evangelist, I’m just a human loving other humans where they are, and those humans are loving me where I am – with no judgment.
Don’t just imagine a world where we love without reservation – love in the world without reservation.
PS – I Googled Joe and sure enough – I found him. He is now preaching and reaching out to the gay community.