Faith Matters: Coming out can feel like a miracle

The Rev. Vicki Ix (center) attending LGBTQIA+ services at the General Convention of The Episcopal Church, Austin, Texas, 2018.

The Rev. Vicki Ix (center) attending LGBTQIA+ services at the General Convention of The Episcopal Church, Austin, Texas, 2018. COURTESY SHARON TILLMAN/EPISCOPAL NEWS SERVICE

By THE REV. VICKI IX

Vicar, St. John’s Episcopal Church, Ashfield

Published: 05-24-2024 11:22 AM

Modified: 05-28-2024 9:22 AM


I have added my coming out to the list of miracles in my life — the glimpses of the resurrection I have been granted in this life. I count this moment as a blessing and pray for those who have not yet been able to say the words out loud.

More frightening than losing a job, many LGBTQIA+ people risk losing relationships when they come out. The fear of losing love still keeps many people in the closet. Although many teens and young adults have embraced sexual diversity as part of God’s creative plan, others suffer ridicule, rejection and physical violence. At the worst of times, Christianity and the Word of God have been misused as a hammer instead of a light: many LGBTQIA+ teens are still kicked out of the house to live on city streets. Some reach the ultimate point of despair. Christians must stand with all people whose essential dignity is under attack.

We have come a long way since I was a teenager in the 1980s. Progress in our nation cannot be taken for granted. There are many organizations, like the “It Gets Better” project, who work on the national level to help at-risk youth. For 20 years, same-sex couples have been welcome to marry in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Federally protected marriage equality was established by the Supreme Court in 2015 and was a moment of national recognition for the dignity of all people. This right was protected by Congress in 2022 when President Biden signed The Respect for Marriage Act.

According the the Human Rights Campaign, same-sex marriage is legal in only 36 countries. And still, there are countries where homosexuality is punishable by the death penalty.

The magnitude of the social shift in our country has given great hope to many who grew up in another USA and lived quiet lives together in the shadows.

Theologically, the shift is still in process from biblical misinterpretation to a morality grounded in relationship. Many denominations now bless or marry LGBTQIA+ couples. Many priests, ministers and rabbis walk proudly in pride marches all over the country. The United Methodist Church just made it possible for LGBTQIA+ persons to be ordained ministers and for those who have waited, to finally, faithfully come out.

The Episcopal Church welcomed me and my wife and opened a way for ordination to the priesthood. It’s been over a decade and I’m still pinching myself. Love is love. God is love. It feels like a no-brainer now. But it was not so long ago that LGBTQIA+ Christians like me hid in shame like Adam and Eve in the garden.

It is frightening to take that step, but we may be comforted by the knowledge that fear and shame are not of God. The God I know is calling us all to fullness of life. The God I know sent Jesus to bring the message of unconditional love. The God I know is a life-giving Spirit who moves us forward into God’s dream for us. As in the beginning, the Spirit delights in creating order from our chaos.

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As we look forward to Franklin County Pride in two weeks, let’s consider all the people who still need the miracle of “coming out” into the light of our love.

St. John’s Episcopal Church in Ashfield is a small, vibrant congregation committed to God’s mission of love and justice. Join the Sunday service at 10 a.m. in person and online. Find out more at stjohnsashfield.org.