In each chapter of Living It Out, you’ll find a mixture of stories, reflections, prayers, cartoons and top tips exploring a particular theme.
Read on for a chapter-by-chapter flavour of what’s in store.
1. Reaching for the Rainbow: Relating to God
Many contributors to this chapter attribute their continuing and strengthened faith in God to their often difficult journey to reconcile faith and sexual orientation. So how has engaging with LGB issues allowed people to develop and deepen their relationship with God?
2. The Good Book?
Biblical passages have long been used to exclude and condemn LGB people. This can turn people away from the Bible, the church and sometimes even from God – or turn them into Biblical scholars, armed with determination to read the text afresh. This chapter shows how different people have found their own paths to understanding and living with the Bible.
3. Coming out in church
However people choose to come out in church – about their own sexuality, or that of a friend or family member– it’s unlikely to be easy. This chapter shares the stories of those who were outed by others, some who have told everybody or only told a few trusted friends and some who have decided not to come out at all.
4. Should I stay or should I go?
LGB people, their families and friends can often be made to feel that they and their views and experiences are unwelcome in the church today. This chapter shares stories and advice from those who have decided to stay in the church, as well as those who have found their spiritual home elsewhere.
5. Family Values
Coming out to family members – or finding out for sure that someone in your family is LGB – can put even the closest family relationships under strain. This chapter charts how some have negotiated those difficulties, giving plenty of ideas on how to help these relationships flourish.
Four personal accounts exploring crucial issues facing many LGB Christians and their allies: mental health, being LGB at school or in a church youth group – both as a student and as a teacher, and how to engage with the media.
6. No longer the only one
Many groups and services now exist to support LGB Christians, their families and friends and to champion LGB issues. It’s often a strong desire to belong, and to find people who understand, that pushes people to confront their fears.
7. Love and marriage
Long before 2005’s Civil Partnership Act, same-sex couples were meeting, dating, falling in love and celebrating their love and commitment in the eyes of God with religious services and blessings. This chapter looks at how people’s faith affects their choice of partner and their attitudes to relationships, why some same-sex couples still find it so important to marry in church and why some couples remain firmly against.
8. Career Path Christianity
Choosing to become an ordained minister or employee of a Christian organisation, could mean that your house, income, friends and family are all dependent on reactions from colleagues or congregations to your views on sexuality. This chapter provides practical advice and insights from some of those who feel called to work for the church, and tells the stories of how they have responded to that call.
9. Speaking Out
Christians in the public eye often seem to only relate to LGB people as a problem or a topic for debate, not as people. There are challenges too when ‘coming out’ as a Christian in a society where many only see the church as anti-gay. This chapter encourages us all to speak out positively and boldly about our lives and faith.
Sarah Hagger-Holt & Rachel Hagger-Holt