This is part of a series from Resurrection's Reconciling in Christ Team for the month of June, inviting reflection and engagement from our community about what it means to be committed to LGBTQ+ inclusion and antiracism.

Why I Changed My Mind About Inclusion

by J.W. Wartick

“But we make God’s love too narrow

by false limits of our own,

and we magnify its strictness

with a zeal God will not own.” 

-Frederick William Faber, “There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy”

When I get asked why I changed my mind from someone who opposed full inclusion of LGBT+ people in the church to someone who works to advocate on its behalf, I think about who I was when I was opposed to full inclusion. I thought the Bible was obviously clear on the issue. I thought we should be kind to anyone regardless of their lifestyle, but believed that we should “love the sinner, hate the sin.” 

So why did I change my mind? Part of it was learning that the Bible is far, far more complex than I used to think it was. It was much easier to see the Bible as a simple, easily understood book full of divine commands that we must follow or else. But the ease of that belief didn’t reflect the reality confronting me, whether it was interacting with Christians who had differing, sincerely held beliefs, or the real lives of people that went against what I thought the Bible so clearly taught. Taking one verse and using it to trump another verse is a common practice, but not one that yields fruitful discussion or better understanding of the Scriptures or God. 

Another reason I changed my mind is that we’re told that God is love; not just that God is loving. No, God is love, whether that be a characteristic of God or simply the easiest way to define God’s innermost being. And if God is love, who am I, a mere human who, like grass, will fade away (1 Peter 1:24-25) to decide who is “in” or “out” with God? The hymn I quoted above resonates so strongly with me on this point. We–most humans, anyway–love to set up limits of our own for God’s love. We have a much greater zeal for limiting God and God’s love than God does. We magnify God’s strictness with a zeal God does not own.

Finally, a reason I changed my mind is that I saw the real harm anti-inclusive teaching was doing to LGBT+ people and how those same people of faith thrived in environments where they are loved and affirmed for who they are. If it’s truly by the fruits of a teaching or of people that we will know whether they are good and true or not (Matthew 7:15-20), then it seems the fruit of anti-inclusion has brought so much harm, hate, and anger that it demonstrates it is not of God.

It’s not easy to change your mind, to admit you got it wrong. But I think that with God’s love, it’s not so hard, either. If we can all have open minds and hearts full of God’s love, we can build a church community that includes and welcomes all of God’s children as their full selves. Instead of magnifying limits, let us magnify love.