When I was younger I struggled with the Bible and my homosexuality. The teachings I was exposed to were confusing and created so many spiritual conflicts. I grew up thinking I was an abomination that God didn’t love. For far too long I was convinced I was going to hell because of my same sex attractions; a belief reinforced with words that constantly echoed in my head:
“Pray enough and I will not be gay. Be obedient to God. Pray faster and harder.”
Many LGBT people feel oppressed; self-hating. As a young person I was devout and faithful to God and to the traditional teachings of the church. Older, I lived a heterosexual life, at times painfully. It was a life where I avoided the honesty of my same gender attraction. I began to sit with scholars who understood what is was to be LGBTIQ and how to reconcile this truth with the words of the Bible. My teachers included Revd. Pressley Sutherland, Bishop Yvette Flunder, Revd. Troy D. Prof Mary Tolbert, Revd. Penny Nixon, Revd. Jim Mitulski, Matthew Vines, James Robertson, and many other mentors. Ephesian 4:14 was one of my liberating verse.
“We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming.”
I came to understand that the Bible requires people of faith to do our own research. Proverbs 4:5: ‘Get wisdom; get insight: do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth.’
Our journey is our own, often filled with conflicts, yet still I pray and hope LGBTIQ people of faith avoid making some of my mistakes as to not feel the pain that has the power to consume and deny a relationship with God.
Over the last eleven years of ministry to the LGBTQI community I worked to create and present a different format of Biblical training on same sex relationship. I piloted a spiritual teaching and training model with hundreds of people in countries both in Africa and Europe for a much-needed pastoral support to help not only LGBTQI people, but also allies, friends, families, scholars and faith leaders. The training course:
What the Bible Really Says In Favour of Same Sex Relationships addresses the needs of LGBTQI people as well as helping their family and faith leaders.
Pastor Paul Bailey writes, “I am often asked or challenged about The Regeneration Project’s commitment to radical inclusion and our affirmation and welcome of LGBTQI persons. Our ministry would like to explore these issues in a safe environment and along with the House of Rainbow to deliver a three-day programme to explore and reflect on these issues through the lens of Liberation Theology to make the case for the full inclusion of sexual minorities in the family of faith.”
What the Bible Really Says In Favour of Same Sex Relationships is a space for LGBTQI people to meet and be celebrated.
By employing and engaging the supports of theologians, academics and local leaders this space will enable an understanding of a vision of human rights that includes positive pro-gay faith based interpretation of the Christian scriptures to transform and shift religious theology towards inclusion and away from Biblical, Quran, Torah and African Spirituality teachings, interpretations and understandings that alienate and/or discriminate unfairly.
For far too long an interpretation of sexuality, sexual orientation and gender identity created violence including spiritual violence from faith communities with many political leaders, government institutions and religious hierarchies violently and virulently supporting legalisation of injustice against the LGBTQI communities. The urgency of this project cannot be overestimated.
In the past few years, House of Rainbow has worked directly with LGBTI people of faith and none, with allies including progressive theological thinkers and Human Rights Organisations. This work has inspired religious and theological teachings that has positively impacted on the lives of persecuted LGBTI people in Africa and throughout the Western African Diaspora. Considering the high rates of HIV throughout the African Diaspora we must recognize how religious oppression plays a role in the stigmatization, shame, denial, discrimination, and disregard of those living with HIV. This training takes a proactive approach to address the relationship between religious homophobia and HIV with an aim to work in partnership with established HIV organisations, allies and non-LGBTIQ partners change the narrative and to destabilise heteronormativity.
With the rise in violence toward LGBTI persons on the continent and elsewhere in the Diaspora there is a real urgency to support and create safe spaces in strategic locations where House of Rainbow interventions operate. We work closely with local LGBTI NGOs and other NGOs allies encouraged by the vision and mission of our organisation to work in solidarity with LGBTI people.
What the Bible Really Says In Favour of Same Sex Relationships enables and facilitates a journey to reconcile sexuality and spirituality that negates guilt and lifelessness by helping people deal with the aftermath of discovering being of a sexual minority.
We use education to liberate and validate the individuals and assist LGBTQI people on a journey to reconcile their faith with sexual orientation. The overall aim is to identify the importance of reconciliation and the ownership of scripture narratives and the ownership of faith, religion, spirituality and sexuality and to understand that the these freedoms and liberties are part of essential Human Rights that equally extends to LGBTQI citizens.
Visit House of Rainbow to register and join us!