Can a Person be Queer, Christian, and Baptist?

A heteronormative, Baptist theology promotes the idea that people in the queer community are perverse, contaminated, and too countercultural to be worthy of the love of God. When one holds this idea, one assumes to be a Christian, one must overcome the perception of being perverse, contaminated, and countercultural, by changing oneself to be considered acceptable to receive the love of God. Once a queer person has eliminated the perceived boundaries standing between them and God’s love, they can find community as a Christian in a Baptist church. Yet this idea is theologically incorrect. Through the love of God, a person can hold on to these identities. They can be queer, Christian, and Baptist.

Contrary to the heteronormative misconception stated above, God’s love is profound and inclusive. In Radical Love, An Introduction to Queer Theology, Patrick Cheng explains: “God is the very manifestation of love that is so extreme that it dissolves existing boundaries that might normally seem fixed.”[1] Cheng’s description of God’s love brings to mind what Paul writes in Rom. 8:38-39, “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Physical characteristics such as height or size, are irrelevant to the love of God. Chen writes that God’s love is so extreme that it also breaks down human obstacles, such as the boundaries between human and divine, or life and death.[2] One can add to this list gender identity and sexuality which are all labels used to constrain queer persons into hegemonic “norms”. God’s radical love is so inclusive, this love overcomes all barriers that prohibit the opportunity for a relationship between God and humans. God’s love provides a way for humans, including queer humans, to be Christians.

Another misconception lies in the belief that queer Christians cannot find community in the Baptist church. For instance, 1 Peter 2:9 states: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people….” The Baptist faith interprets this verse to emphasize a person’s individuality. Each person is competent and responsible to make their own moral, spiritual, and religious decisions.[3] In addition, each believer is equal to every other believer in the Baptist church. No one member has the authority to rule over another believers, or to decide whether one is accepted or not. Neither a minister nor a lay person can deny a queer person’s gift of God’s love. Baptists advocate the individuality of a personal relationship with God, and no other person can decide what that relationship will look like. According to the tenets of the Baptist faith, a person can thus be queer and Baptist.

God’s love is the key to a relationship with God as a queer person. Chen writes how radical love dissolves the boundaries that “historically have separated Christianity and queerness.”[4] By dissolving these boundaries, God’s love frees the path for a queer person to be in relationship with God. In short, Baptist theology welcomes all as equal members into the Baptist community of faith. Through the gift of God’s radical love and within the Baptist tradition, a person can hold all these identities and they can be queer, Christian.

[1] Cheng, Patrick S., Radical Love: An Introduction to Queer Theology (New York: Seabury Press, 2011), 50.

[2] Ibid., 51.

[3] Shurden, Walter, B., The Baptist Identity: Four Fragile Freedoms (Macon, Georgia: Smyth & Helwys Publishing, 2017), 24.

[4] Cheng, Radical Love, 140.