An Evangelical’s Apology
By Rachel Held Evans of Evolving In Monkey Town
To the LGBTQ Community,
I know I don’t speak for all evangelicals when I write this, but I hope I speak for more than you might think, as I offer this sincere apology on behalf of myself and my community.
I’m sorry for not speaking up when people taunted you and made obscene jokes about you in school and at work.
I’m sorry that I have tolerated stereotypes and generalities.
I’m sorry that I did not protest when my church put signs in its yard in support of anti-gay legislation.
I’m sorry that I did not stand with you when my town’s leaders passed a resolution to try and ban you from living in our community.
I’m sorry that evangelicals have made church an unsafe place for you, that we have stigmatized that which we do not understand, that we have inadvertently forced so many young people to keep secrets about their sexuality, and that we have made the Christian subculture the worst one in which to come out.
I’m sorry for our hypocrisy. I’m sorry that we say gay marriage is the biggest threat to the sanctity of an institution we ourselves do not honor half of the time. I’m sorry that we’ve spent millions of dollars trying to restrict your civil liberties when that money could have been used for better things. I’m sorry that we don’t focus on our own families first.
I’m sorry that we leave you with no good options. I’m sorry for criticizing you for being promiscuous, but then denying you the opportunity to form committed, monogamous relationships. I’m sorry that we act like celibacy would be easy, as if you do not desire companionship and intimacy as much as we do.
I’m sorry that we talk about you more than we listen to you. I’m sorry that we form opinions about things we don’t understand. I’m sorry that we think we can write a prescription to make you just like us.
I’m sorry that we treat your sexuality as a disease and that we offer dangerous “cures,” like encouraging you to marry someone of the opposite sex. I’m sorry that these tactics often result in nothing but shame and secrets and more broken families.
I’m sorry that we have used the Bible as a weapon.
I’m sorry that we have used religion to shame.
I’m sorry that we have assumed we speak for God.
Most of all, I am sorry that we haven’t been Jesus to you. Jesus, who associated with the marginalized of his society—women, Samaritans, tax collectors, and prostitutes—Jesus, who forgave when others wanted to stone, who gave freely when others wanted to charge, who welcomed when others wanted to shun. I’m sorry that we call ourselves Christians, or “little Christs,” when we look nothing like our Lord.
I know that this letter does not excuse me from the mistakes of my past, and I know it does not represent the position of many in my community. But I hope you see it as at least one hand reaching out. I am hopeful that there will be more, and that one day we will worship together in spirit and in truth without hate or shame.
May God bless you all richly.
Rachel Held Evans lives in Dayton, Tennessee (where public officially really did try to ban gays and lesbians from living in the community, although the measure was eventually overturned after public outcry). Rachel blogs at www.rachelheldevans.com.