A group of COB LGBTQ activists has announced ROYGBrethren, an online forum that provides a safe space and community for LGBTQ Youth and Young Adults in the Church of the Brethren.
The purpose of the forum is to provide a confidential space for LGBTQ youth and young adults to share stories, offer one another support, and discuss collective nonviolent action that builds a more just and affirming community in the Church of the Brethren. ROYGBrethren is a safe space for LGBTQ youth, as well as youth who are still discovering their sexuality and gender identity. While denominational discussions determine whether to let us openly sit in pews, speak from pulpits, and co-create resources that serve our community, ROYGBrethren is a space where the humanity of LGBTQ youth and young adults is fully affirmed now.
ROYGBrethren is created by Brethren young adults who have experienced or witnessed the difficulty and isolation that many youth and young adults face in embracing their LGBTQ identity. They know first hand how alone and threatened an LGBTQ youth in the Church of the Brethren can feel when they can’t count on the love, affirmation, and support of their church community. Many LGBTQ youth grow up not knowing any LGBTQ members of the Church of the Brethren their age, and given the environment in which most Church of the Brethren congregations are located, they might not know any other LGBTQ youth in their community at all.
That’s why this resource is so important, so that LGBTQ youth and young adults can experience the love, acceptance, affirmation, and community that straight people in the Church of the Brethren take for granted. I’m thankful for the leadership of these activists who have discovered a hole in the Church of the Brethren and are determined to fill it, while so many in the COB still refuse to fully embrace the absolute and inherent humanity of all LGBTQ people.
This is an issue I’ve wanted to talk about for a long time, and like many who feel the same way as I do, I have made excuses to not talk about it. I’ve avoided talking about it because I don’t have the theological knowledge to back up what I believe to be true and just. I’ve avoided talking about it because I didn’t want to say anything too controversial. But I’m making a commitment here and know to talk about it. Instead of using my deficiencies to avoid standing up for justice, I’ll take the example of the creators of ROYGBrethren, and fill in the holes in myself so I can be a better ambassador of the Kingdom of Heaven, and a better advocate for justice.
I may lack the theological knowledge at this moment to pull together a well reasoned and scriptural argument to back up my beliefs, but here’s what I do know: I know that Jesus spoke a lot more about justice than about sexuality, so to deny someone justice based on their sexuality isn’t Christlike. I know that the Bible is written from the perspective of the oppressed, so to use the Bible to oppress is to not take the Bible seriously. I know that Jesus boiled down all of God’s commandments simply to love God, and love others. So if we are anything but loving to LGBTQ people, we are being sinful.
I’m very proud of my Brethren identity. You can ask my non-Brethren friends, I talk about it all the time. I’m so proud, because in so many instances throughout our history, the Brethren have been a peculiar people set aside in their Christ-centered work for peace and justice. On issues like slavery, poverty, civil rights, and war, the Church of the Brethren has showed tremendous leadership. We’ve read the bible and understood its radical call for love and justice.
On the issue of homosexuality, we have failed. By refusing to fully and lovingly acknowledge the humanity of LGBTQ people, we have betrayed our history. We have betrayed our own humanity, especially the most basic human part of ourselves that is agape love. And we have betrayed God, who loved LGBTQ people so much that he sent his only begotten son to die on the cross for them.
Please share the news about ROYGBrethren with LGBTQ or questioning youth and young adults in your circle who would benefit from being a part of this space. Please direct interested individuals to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Emmett Eldred is a sophomore Creative Writing; Professional Writing; and Ethics, History, and Public Policy Major at Carnegie Mellon University. His passions include reading about, writing about, and snuggling with pugs. Emmett is the founder of DunkerPunks.com, and he wants lots more people to contribute! Fill out a Dunker Punks profile, and join the conversation! Follow Emmett on twitter @emmetteldred and follow Dunker Punks on Twitter @DunkerPunks and on Facebook.
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