The Labor Day weekend sermon of Brainerd Baptist Church Sr. Pastor Robby Gallaty is making the rounds of the national blogs this week. The topic wasn’t the dignity of work or what the Bible has to say about paying a fair wage. Instead, members of the congregation got to hear a harangue about homosexuality before they headed home to enjoy the rest of their holiday weekend.

The sermon touched on everything from the dangers of homosexuality in history to the defensive posture Pastor Gallaty feels evangelicals are put in today because of the recent successes of the LGBT rights movement to the movement being an attack on the family to the big point that LGBT people can change.

I don’t expect Pastor Gallaty to alter his views anytime soon. Maybe he never will. But what I get from him and those who are digging in with culture war rhetoric is that they don’t believe they share any values with LGBT people or share any civic or religious space with them unless and until they cease to be gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender.

This all-or-nothing approach doesn’t cause LGBT people to change, but it does harm them. Suicide rates in our community are higher. LGBT youth are bullied at higher rates than other students in our schools, and they are a disproportionately higher percentage of the homeless population, a point illustrated powerfully by last week’s viral video of a Georgia man being thrown out of his home when he refused to attempt to change his orientation.


Instead of the zero-sum game that gets played out in many congregations, I wish the conversation we could have is what sort of pastoral care should be available to help families and communities approach coming out stories calmly and lovingly, regardless of anyone’s views about the eternal destiny of LGBT people’s souls. Maybe the theological disagreements will never end. But a different approach can help reduce the rate of LGBT suicide and youth homelessness. And that strikes me as what the family of God ought to be about.

Chris Sanders,executive director, Tennessee Equality Project

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