A Letter to LGBT Student Groups (and Allies) at Christian Colleges

by Rachel Held Evans Read Distraction Free

I don’t know much about what it’s like to be you, but I figure it can’t be easy. 

Many of you face discrimination and double standards. Others are forced to operate “underground.” It must be painful to watch when faculty members who support you face investigations and threats, or when your presence seems to divide the community you love.  I know many of you fear expulsion for simply telling the truth, and I suspect that as your high school classmates beam out “It Gets Better” videos from their state school dorm rooms, you can’t help but wonder sometimes when things will get better for you. 

I’m sorry for the way you have been treated.  It’s unfair, and it’s wrong. 

I also know that in some cases, your groups are thriving…which can be both thrilling and terrifying. There are growing pains involved, and those of you in leadership know that growth too can be hard. You are making mistakes, I am sure—perhaps pushing too hard in one situation, or not hard enough in another. You are wondering when it’s right to raise hell and when it’s right to hold back.  You are navigating some tricky territory, speaking the truth in love while trying to figure out the truth yourself.  You probably feel exposed sometimes, overwhelmed sometimes, alone sometimes. 

But you are not alone. 

And I want you to know that I’ve got your back. 

I fully support your desire to fellowship, to wrestle, to debate, to discuss, to pray, to cry, and to worship together publicly, out of the shadows of secrecy and into the light of truth.  Where two or three are gathered in the name of Jesus, the presence of Jesus is there…no matter what anyone else says, no matter whether you are officially recognized as a group.  

I want you to know that I pray for you. Often. 

I pray that if you lack wisdom, you will seek it in the God who “gives generously to all without finding fault.”  

I pray you will find those friends, those professors, and those quiet places on campus that make you feel safe and at home. 

I pray you will come to know Jesus better, even when he seems so far ahead you’re not sure you can follow any longer. 

I pray you will learn to love yourself and take care of yourself—resting when you need to, laughing when you need to, STUDYING when you need to (!), saying “no” when you need to, crying when you need to, speaking up when you need to, and listening to the wise counsel of others when you need to.  

I pray you find a community of faith that gives you room to stretch and grow and screw up and start over. 

I pray for you. Often. 

But most of all, I want you to know that your love for a Church that doesn’t always love you back astounds me. 

It challenges and inspires me. 

It moves me to push past my own petty grievances against the Bride and just show up—even when it’s hard, even when it’s not all figured out. 

I want you to know that I look up to you. 

I have seen in you the sort of faithfulness, persistence, honesty, forgiveness, and patience I long for in my own life. May I wrestle through my own questions of identity with the same integrity and courage as you do. May my love for those with whom I disagree be as remarkable as yours.

I don’t know much about what it’s like to be you. But I value those times we’ve spent talking over coffee and exchanging emails. We always seem to find one another when I’m on a college campus, and I’m beginning to think it’s because we’re the same kind of people—broken, wrestling, hopeful, brave…ragamuffins and misfits just taking it one day at a time. 

I love you, and I am honored to be your sister in Christ. 

Hang in there. 

I’ve got your back. 

- Rachel 

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