WACO, Texas (KWTX) Nearly 500 filled into the conference room atop the Cashion Academy Center on the Baylor campus Tuesday evening to listen to an influential Christian LGBTQ author speak about faith and sexuality.
The room was so filled, several people could be seen standing in the back to listen.
Justin Lee was at the university for a two-day visit where he also spoke to student in classes.
Dr. Jon E. Singletary was named dean of the Garland School of Social Work gave opening remarks and welcomed LGBTQ students to university and says they’re welcomed.
The talk was open to students and the public, sitting in the front row was President Linda Livingstone’s husband, filling-in while the university’s leader was away on travel, and some members of the Board of Regents.
Weaving humor into his talk, Lee did not shy away confronting the serious issues facing homosexuality and Christianity saying, “When we talk about issues we need to talk about people’s stories.”
He told the audience he realized at 18 he was gay, but struggled to accept what that looked like for him.
While unlike other topics, he also addressed this conversation is not something the Church has had before.
“Where does the body of Christ go from here? This is a new conversation for the church, how to address homosexuality, bisexual and transgender people.”
The end of his talk focused on how the straight community can work to better welcome the LGBTQ community.
He said the church needs to be empathetic to people. “It’s our burden to share,” he said.
Though contrary to how some might interrerpt the Bible, Lee pointed to scripture as why the church needed to embrace everyone.
“That night sound extreme, but the Bible points to helping those in need from widows, to the hungry and the LGBTQ community,” he said. “Christ lived and died for us. We need to be shining examples.”
He ended his talk speaking directly to the LGBTQ members in attendance.
“You have something important to add to the body of Christ. Your experience has given you empathy. Your faith has gotten stronger because you fought for it … use your gifts and don’t let any one tell you aren’t welcomed. God loves you. God wants to use you. So go be the church.”