“We welcome everyone,” the line goes. “No matter how broken or wounded you are.” It sounds good. It’s welcoming. It’s arms open. Church can be a home again. It can be a place of healing again. It can be a place of rest again. But can we talk about this whole “broken and wounded” thing? The more I think about it, the more insulted I become.

For the gay-welcoming church, this is not meant to be a bad thing. After all, we all know that the Church has beat up the gay community over the years, and that they’re about as compatible as water and a hot desert sun. The church does all it can to steam away every last trace of the LGBT community, leaving our culture — and even our very lives completely parched.

Those of us who are gay Christians have (at best) been relegated to the shadows of our churches, leaving us to contend with the “open secret” of being gay. The church ladies might talk about us as being “that way,” or “being really in touch with our feminine side.”

Look, folks. We’re gay. We are attracted to members of the same sex.

But broken? Not so much. Wounded? Absolutely. So who wounded us? Take a look in the mirror, dear Christian leader.

Our wounds have been directly caused by most vile and vicious anti-gay rhetoric that could easily appear in shape of a gun with a cross painted on the barrel. Its trigger is pulled by the sheer hate that wells in the hearts of so many of our peers and families. As each shame-filled bullet riddles our spirit, there’s not much left for us to do other than to leave that fellowship or let them crush us under the weight of religious impersonation and legalism.

Those of us who have been wounded over the years have come to a clear decision that all church ever did for them was to damn them, attack them, and push them away into a wilderness of solitude.

To the Church, gays are immoral, sex-driven, and consumed by pride and lust. We have been told for decades that we are evil, out to destroy the family, and are only after their children. The church has bought the lie that we have hundreds of partners, and are just a bunch of pedophiles, and can’t hold relationships worth a damn.

Is there any wonder why gays are not interested in church? It’s not that we’re wounded. It’s just that we don’t particularly think it’s a good idea to put ourselves in a position where we know we’ll be wounded again. And again. And again. We’re not superheroes. Bullets of shame don’t bounce off of us. Eventually, they strike the heart and bitterness begins to take root.

And you, dear Christian, are the one pulling the trigger.

After all, the Bible is “clear” about its “condemnation” of gay relationships, right? God calls it an “abomination,” right? You’ll use anything you can to defend your actions, your bile, and your bias against gays.

Has it ever occurred to you that the Bible is meant to be a basis for how we live our lives, not an excuse for the way we treat others? It’s a manual for healing, not a weapon to crush those who you think are beneath you.

We’re not beneath you. We’re not interested in your condemnation or your pity. After all, we are not broken. We’re not shattered. We’re certainly not “sexually broken,” as some groups would like to believe.

We are gay. Being gay is no more a “sexual brokenness” as being straight is “sexually fixed.” We’re simply attracted to members of the same sex. We just happen to want to build our lives with someone of the same sex. So please, stop with the “broken” bit.

If we ARE broken… if we ARE cracked, splintered, or shattered, then what caused that brokenness?

As people, we are broken by other people. Crushed down, beaten up, and whipped into shreds. The implication that we are broken because we are gay… and that being gay is being broken, well — it’s an insult to our intelligence and a slap in the face to our humanity.

Let’ be clear. There are plenty of people who are in recovery. Whether it’s alcoholism, drug addiction, PTSD, or in counseling due to traumatic events in childhood, these are elements that everyone — gay AND straight — must deal with. There’s plenty of brokenness that everyone has for us to add to the mix by confusing “being gay” with “being broken.”

Stop it. Stop with the false comparisons. Stop with the false pity. Stop with the false sadness. We’re gay. We’re not broken. And if we ARE wounded, then tend to the wounds and stop adding to them. The Gospel is for all of us — no matter who we love, and we have a much better chance of lowering our guard if you remove the weapons from your arsenal that we so easily recognize.

The Gospel is that Jesus came to bring healing — REAL healing that gets to the very core of our spirit, healing from the wounds caused by others and even by ourselves. He brings hope to the hopeless, love to the unloved, food to the hungry, water to the thirsty, and clothes to the naked.

So often we want to try to fix the things WE don’t like. An entire culture of “ex-gay” ministries that began in the 1970s is collapsing under the weight of its own facade, with its leaders grappling with the fact that people can no more change their sexual orientation than they can their eye color.

Their entire worldview is built around the lie that being gay is the same as being sexually broken. They build it around the myth that being gay is just a person having gay sex. These lies and myths are thin, shallow, and are nothing more than a single card that’s a part of the falling house of cards. The tragedy is that people ARE being wounded through these “ministries,” and they ARE being broken by their shame.

Gay men and women are often shamed into getting married to hide their true selves, only to come to terms years later — bringing the family into the blast zone as collateral damage from the internal war that may gay Christians wage. It happens time and time again.

The cycle of destruction must end. It has to end where it starts — in bitter tradition, religious shame, and Christian impersonation.

We are gay. If we are broken, it’s not because we’re gay. If we are wounded, it’s not because we’re gay. Too often, that brokenness and those wounds come from those we trust the most — and hurt us the most.

In short, the knife wounds in our chest were caused by the knives that are still in our backs.

If we are going to open our churches to the LGBT community, the time has come for us to do the one thing that LGBT people have come to expect the least. Let’s imagine that we are indeed fishers of men. But did the men in the New Testament ever use a hook? Jesus didn’t use a hook to fish. He used a net. We don’t bring people into the Kingdom by wounding, deceiving, or placing false expectations on them

So let’s get rid of the weapons, the swords, the guns, the hooks, the expectations, and the agendas and cast our net — a net that’s formed of another element that LGBT people so rarely receive:

Pure, genuine, love.

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