What does Jesus and his good news say about queerness and the experiences leading some to identify as such? He, the one and only unique Son of God? Jesus, God come to us in the flesh, the one beside whom there is no other? Jesus, our Lord, who alone has been exalted to a unique place and shares his glory with no one? This loving king, gentle friend—the truth incarnate—is the ultimate Other. It’s only in him that our otherness is redeemed and beautifully serves his unique purpose: to make us more like himself. I can assure you that Jesus does not say, “Get over it. I’m done with you till you drop the ‘Q.’” He’s the truth, the light, and the healer of broken hearts.
Early in my ministry with Harvest USA, a friend put words to angst I’d felt earlier in life. I wasn’t a “boy crazy” girl or young adult and the desire for marriage and kids wasn’t strong, as it was for many of my peers. Things I perceived as girly held no attraction for me. I had a happy, fun-filled childhood. Yet, as I grew up, I felt separated from others . . . different. My new friend’s words seemed autobiographical—for me! She said, “I felt ‘other.’”
At age thirteen, this friend’s experience of same-sex attraction triggered thoughts and emotions that led to her self-diagnosis: I’m different and weird and don’t fit in.
SSA hasn’t been my story. My sense of feeling negatively different from peers stemmed from desires and preferences regarding my experiences as a girl. I felt queer: odd, obviously different from what I perceived to be the societal norms around me.
What Does Queer Mean Today?
The word “queer” has an interesting history, though its origin isn’t precisely known. Initially used to describe something as strange, odd, or peculiar (how I felt), in the 1800s “queer” morphed into a slur used to describe men who had sex with men. Fast forward to the 2000s and it’d become an umbrella term in LGBTQ+ vocabulary to refer to someone who does not experience sexual or romantic attraction to the opposite sex (what society labels heteronormative) and/or does not identify with or accept the gender binary of male or female (I’ll call this gender binary “creation normativity”).
“Queer” is now a mainstream term attached to experiences that are outside of God’s creation intent. Creation normativity, in contrast, is when male and female image-bearers flourish as relational, engendered, and sexual beings entrusted with the gift and capacity of loving and serving through satisfying community—friendship, family, brother-sister relationships, and marriage.
To be sure, sin’s corrupting power has devastated our ability to enjoy gender and sexuality in the ways God lovingly intended. And the body of Christ has a long way to go in bringing the balm and transformation of the gospel to those who identify with the Q of LGBTQ+. Remember: at the heart of Q is a sense of not fitting in with what is accepted as normal—and that can be painful.
Many who identify with LGBTQ+ have felt their otherness weaponized against them by Christians rather than having the gospel of Jesus offered and explained. Weaponizing sin and suffering against someone is also sin.
The truth is, most of us have felt at some point that we didn’t fit in due to the types of suffering we endure, the sins we pursue, or the preferences we have. And, in response to the pain of feeling on the outside and the confusion of why we perceived we were different from others, we gave way to the common-to-all temptation to interpret our experiences, and our very selves, from a personal grid of truth. We are meaning-makers. When unmoored from God’s Word and the life-giving, freedom-infusing promises of the gospel, we develop and live out false identities based on those false diagnoses. “Live your truth” is not a helpful mantra because our truth is not reliable!