Ally. “…someone who helps and supports other people who are part of a group that is treated badly or unfairly, although they are not themselves a member of this group.” (Cambridge Online Dictionary)
Pastor, have you come out as an ally to the LGBTQ+ community? It’s a good question to ask on National Coming Out Day.
There’s a LGBTQ+ person in your life but you may not know it. Eichberg, the founder of National Coming Out Day, suggests that to know a gay person is to change your mind about the LGBTQ+ community. I see the logic. But I can’t even imagine how difficult it is for a member of that community to come out as gay. If you are secretly gay it’s not my place to urge you to come out today. That’s your decision. Coming out might not even be a safe thing to do. You do what feels best for you.
There’s another angle to National Coming Out Day to explore. I’m thinking about the huge number of closeted allies who are pastors. Just as it’s safe to say you unknowingly know a member of the queer community, you also unknowingly know an ally. Pastor, at your last ministerial shindig, you rubbed shoulders with an ally of the LGBTQ+ community and didn’t know it.
I assure you there’s a high number of pastors cheering for the gay community under the radar. Is this the day as a pastor you come out and let people know you are affirming? Such a move is bold and not without potential consequences. It’s a remarkable thing to do, especially in our current church culture of fear. But you’ve decided it’s worth the risk. Congratulations. If this describes you I’d love to hear from you.
Most secret allies, especially pastors, will choose to remain secret. I get it. There’s a lot at stake if you go public.
- Over-zealous district leaders may try to intimidate you into resigning your credentials.
- You may be threatened with a trial aimed at stripping away your credentials.
- There’s the possibility of losing your job and home.
- You may be kicked to the curb.
- You might never get another preaching assignment on your district.
Trust me. These are the real risks of being bold and true to your heart.
In spite of the risks there are brave pastors who step up and speak out as allies. You are all heroes in my book.
And yet, many pastors choose to remain an ally in secret. In response to this I’ve often heard the saying, “A secret ally is no ally at all.” I’ve thought about this for a long time. That saying is one of the factors that encouraged me to speak out. But I’ve decided this is not a true statement. Secret allies can work behind the scenes and do good that someone like me cannot. Pastor, you are in a position to show love and acceptance to all marginalized people. You have the platform to preach love, kindness, and acceptance. You are in a position to move the needle from hate to love. I encourage you to not squander this opportunity! Do what you can do.
If you are a pastor who is a secret ally, I’d love to hear from you. I’m interested to learn what you are doing to help the LGBTQ+ community that’s suffered at the hands of the church. How are you making a positive impact in that community?
This article may sound seditious but it isn’t. All I’m doing is encouraging pastors who follow Christ to actually love like Christ. It is a call to embrace those who are unfairly treated. It’s a radical idea: love like Christ! At the end of your pastoral ministry, few people will remember how big your churches were. But they will remember if you loved like Jesus.
God is Love. Love like God.