Last October, shortly after a series of highly publicized suicides by LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) youth, a Presbyterian minister in Chicago posted a beautiful Pastoral Letter to Gay Youth on his blog. In the letter, John Vest addressed gay youth across the county and said:
It may take us a long time to redeem Christianity in the eyes of those we have hurt the most. But I refuse to give up trying, and I hope and pray that you will not give up on us. There are churches that will love and accept you as God does. There are churches that will support you as you grow into yourself and discover the person God created you to be. There are churches that will stand up to bullying and name it and the factors that contribute to it as the real sin in this situation, not the sexuality you have been given as a gift of God.
Nice, right? It doesn’t matter how old you are, this letter says something your teenaged gay self needs to hear. Read John Vest’s full Pastoral Letter to Gay Youth here.
John followed his pastoral letter up with a blog post titled “Safe Places for Gay Youth: A Plea to Conservative Christians.” After you read the sample below, I think you’ll want to read the entire post. It’s everything the title implies…
…my plea to conservative Christians is to put aside the zealous promotion of your theological convictions and reconsider your approach to the pastoral care of LGBT persons, especially youth. Why can’t you see that your unrelenting defense of a conservative theology of sexuality is doing way more harm than good? Don’t you see that you drive away more lost sheep than you save? Isn’t there a way for you to be faithful to your understanding of the gospel without dehumanizing people and driving them away from the faith you hold so dear?
If you ever run into John Vest on the street, shake his hand, buy him a cup of coffee, or invite him to your house for Christmas dinner. As they say in my hometown in Tennessee, I think he’s probably good people.