How to become Affirming
Don't get zapped!
In New Zealand we can all relate to electric fences. Given that Aotearoa is made up of 80% farms, and we have six to one, sheep to people, you can imagine we have a lot of fences.
If you haven’t ever had the opportunity to climb over an electric fence, you have missed the really challenging task of contouring our bodies over a savage fence without zapping our inner thighs on the high voltage wire.
In order to know if the fence is electric or not, we look out for those small plastic isolators or a sign telling you the fence is electrified.
If you have every been zapped by an electric fence, you will immediately lose trust for all fences and approach them all with more caution.
Like the electric fence, the LGBTQ+ have been zapped and hurt by churches. In NZ, our churches have had a long history if ‘zapping’ the rainbow communities and some churches are making changes to create a safe place for our people.
The plastic isolators and signs are ‘statements’ that the fence is safe or not, and therefore churches need to adopt this same approach.
Make it clear!
Being clear about your church’s view on topics around LGBTTQIA+ people and their inclusion into your community, is key to creating a safe place.
If your church is not comfortable accepting or affirming this community, that is fine, as long as you are clear about this. The “Everyone Welcome” signs are simply creating false hope and will lead to eventual pain, when a person is told, their relationship, sexual orientation or gender identity does not align with your church’s values. Therefore, do us all a favour and just make it clear from the outset. This might mean making a statement on your website or including something in the ‘About Us’ section.
Likewise, if your church IS affirming of queer people, then shout it from the roof tops, or at least put something clear and concise on your website. The rainbow community are smart, we have been hurt before and therefore we will research a potential new community, therefore that website or Facebook page are places we will turn to, to find out about your church.
Here is an example from Community of Saint Luke.
By calling ourselves progressive, we mean that we are Christians who:
- Invite all people to participate in our community and worship life without insisting that they become like us in order to be acceptable (including but not limited to):
- believers and agnostics,
conventional Christians and questioning skeptics,
- women and men,
- those of all sexual orientations and gender identities,
- those of all races and cultures,
- those of all classes and abilities,
- those who hope for a better world and those who have lost hope;
- believers and agnostics,
- Know that the way we behave toward one another and toward other people is the fullest expression of what we believe;
Making a clear statement is a perfect opportunity to also state your support for woman in leadership, Māori inclusion and other areas where the church has had some question marks.
If you need any support or advice, please reach out to us at email@example.com and one of our leaders will be in contact.