A Matter of the Heart

By Cindy Akers

At a very young age I realized that my dad became disenchanted with church involvement.  Instead of looking to Jesus as his guide for Christian life, he looked at the business misdealings of a fellow elder and became soured on the church. As a result, his opinions of “hypocrites” led him to take his family farther from church life.  We attended other churches now and then, but eventually only at Easter and Christmas.  While my parents were very loving people, they didn’t provide the opportunity to have a personal relationship with Jesus.

Christianity didn’t become an important aspect of my life until a few years after Mark and I were married.  Our two-year old twin sons knew a lot about Santa Claus but knew nothing about Jesus!  We both agreed that had to change and we began a Bible study at the Disciples Christian Church where we had our wedding.  It was a good basic study to begin the “head knowledge” of scripture.  We tried to stay involved in the life of the church while our own lives became busier with the addition of two more sons and a move from Fort Wayne to Indianapolis.

Soon after that move, God put just the right people in our lives to provide a new church family where we became very involved in the life of the congregation and developed wonderful friendships. Initially we didn’t know that this independent Christian Church differed in theology from our previous congregation. Because they believed in the inerrancy of scripture, we experienced the typical conservative preaching and teaching in regards to homosexuality.  Over the 20 or so years we were members, the topic of same-sex attraction became more evident in society and in the news, and the church became more and more vocal about the “sin”. We observed the harsh and unloving treatment of members of our own congregation who came out as gay.  And, my heart just  wouldn’t accept that I couldn’t invite my neighbors, friends, or work colleagues who identified as LGBTQ to my church because they would not be welcome!  Where is the love of Jesus in this message of righteous bigotry?

So, unlike my dad, I have chosen to use Christ as my guide for living and for loving everyone.  Because there is much literature on the topic of LGBTQ inclusion in the church, it’s possible to find opposing viewpoints from biblical scholars about whether or not to affirm and welcome these members into the full life of the church.  If all you need is head knowledge, then it’s possible to choose one side of the other.  But, I truly believe in my heart that Jesus died for all, that he unconditionally ministered to the marginalized and outcast.  Therefore, if I consider myself to be a Christian, I am called to love all of my neighbors.  What a wonderfully freeing feeling!

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