2014: A Year of Progress, But a Long Way to Go on Path to Equality | Sojourners

2014: A Year of Progress, But a Long Way to Go on Path to Equality

Over the past year, I have seen a tremendous amount of reformation and renewal taking place in the American Christian community around the topic of LGBTQ acceptance and equality. Like with many other justice issues in the past, entire new movements are calling God’s people forward, deeper into realizing the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in Heaven. And though there is still a lot of work left to do, the changes I have seen over the past year have been nothing short of inspiring.

Two years ago, the conversation around LGBTQ equality in evangelical circles was limited to a few “liberal” organizations, which were viewed by evangelicals as marginally Christian. But in 2014 we have seen literally dozens of evangelical leaders and organizations appear on the scene, taking momentous leaps forward as they advocate for their LGBTQ brothers and sisters around the world.

By God’s grace, I have been able to witness much of this transformation first hand. Last fall, I began writing about LGBTQ equality on my blog Revangelical. Soon after, a few posts turned into a clear calling from God to be a voice of reformation on this issue from within evangelical Christianity. I felt compelled to speak up with all of my fellow LGBTQ brothers and sisters who have faced so much discrimination and oppression at the hands of those who call themselves “people of Good News.”

Over the course of the year, I graduated from my evangelical Bible college, accepted a position as the National Spokesperson and Program Director for a new organization called Evangelicals for Marriage Equality, and began working as an organizer in evangelical communities, seeking to rally pastors and leaders to speak up against LGBTQ discrimination and bullying. In just a short period of time, my entire life became devoted to this important cause.

I have been continually humbled to watch God work, changing the hearts and minds of countless evangelicals to become passionate advocates for the LGBTQ community. From the work of my friends Matthew Vines (The Reformation Project), Justin Lee (The Gay Christian Network), Michael Kimpan (The Marin Foundation), Eliel Cruz (Religion News Service), and Heidi Weaver (LoveBoldly), to the daily changes of hearts that are occurring in evangelical circles, it is clear that the future of LGBTQ acceptance and inclusion in the church is bright.

But even as I have watched these changes occur before my eyes, it is still clear that we have a long way to go.

In October, I and a small delegation of LGBTQ-affirming pastors and leaders attended the Southern Baptist Conventions Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission’s Conference, The Gospel, Homosexuality, and the Future of Marriage. While it is true that this conference was a step forward in regards to the tone that Southern Baptists are taking toward LGBTQ issues, in my opinion, the overall message remained largely unchanged: Openly LGBTQ people remain unwelcome to participate in the full life of the church, and efforts to achieve LGBTQ equality in the public square are a threat to our religious freedoms and must be opposed.

Likewise, earlier this year when World Vision, a large evangelical social justice organization, announced that it would begin hiring openly LGBTQ people, evangelicals rallied en masse to punish this organization, which lost more than 10,000 sponsorships in two days. In response to this shocking backlash, World Vision’s president Richard Stearns retracted the organization’s announcement and returned to their former policy.

While it is clear that God is transforming the hearts and minds of evangelicals by the thousands, there are still those who remain unconvinced and unmoved. There are still thousands of LGBTQ children living in environments that teach them to be ashamed of who they are. There are still LGBTQ people around our country who cannot be civilly married because of the religious convictions of evangelicals. There are still states where LBGTQ people can be legally fired or refused service based solely on their sexual orientation. As people of God, we cannot sit on the sidelines and allow these unjust situations to occur.

God is moving in our midst, transforming the landscape and expanding God’s Kingdom before our eyes. At the end of 2014, there is much to be grateful for. And as we turn our eyes to 2015, may we be mindful that there still is much to be done. It is my sincere hope that in the coming year, those of us who bear the name of Christ will heed the call of God, giving our lives to see all of God’s children dignified and welcomed in our churches, communities, and families just as they are welcomed into Christ’s.

Brandan Robertson is a evangelical author, activist, speaker, and visionary. He is the founder of The Revangelical Movement, the national spokesperson of Evangelicals for Marriage Equality, and the evangelical organizer at Faith in Public Life. A prolific author, Brandan’s writings can be found on Patheos, Huffington Post, TIME, IMPACT Magazine, and many other prominent outlets. Brandan’s first book, Nomad: Not-So-Religious Thoughts on Faith, Doubt, and the Journey In Between will be released in fall 2015.

Image:  / Shutterstock.com