Religious leaders of local churches are hosting special services to welcome gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and questioning teens and their parents into their congregations on Sunday, February 20. The ecumenical effort, hosted by the Houston Clergy Council, brings together affirming churches including American Baptist, Episcopal, Lutheran, Metropolitan Community, United Methodist, United Church of Christ, and Unitarian Universalist congregations.
“Gay teens are welcome at these churches all the time, but we really wanted to make a big event and roll out the red carpet. Our goal is to get gay teens and their families into safe communities where they’re going to be welcomed and affirmed,” said Joana Crawford, a seminarian helping out with the event.
The welcoming spirit of the services represents a stark contrast to remarks made by Lakewood Church pastors Joel and Victoria Osteen on CNN’s January 26 Piers Morgan Tonight.
“The scripture shows that it’s a sin,” Mr. Osteen said as Mrs. Osteen nodded in agreement. “But you know, I’m not one of those that are out there to bash homosexuals and tell them that they’re terrible people and all of that. I mean, there are other sins in the Bible too…. I don’t believe homosexuality is God’s best for a person’s life.
“It’s strictly back to what the scripture says,” Osteen continued. “I mean, I can’t grab one part and say God wants you to be blessed and live an abundant life and not grab the other part that says…live that kind of life. So it comes back to the scripture. I’m not the judge…. God didn’t tell me to go around judging everybody.”
Osteen added that he also believes civil partnerships are “wrong” for same-gender couples.
At the end of the interview, Osteen admitted to not understanding homosexuality. “It’s a hard issue and I don’t know that I fully understand it.”
As many as eight million viewers tune to Osteen’s evangelical services each week.
Crawford offered a special invitation to gay teens who have heard and are discouraged by Osteen’s message.
“We invite them to come to any of the churches and congregations that are listed on our website, because at those communities they’re not going to be loved in spite of what they are, they’re going to be loved, part and parcel.”
For a complete list of churches participating in outreach to gay teens, log on to bringyourgayteentochurch.com. —Nancy Ford