Why talking about religion and LGBTQ matters

A recent study highlights a strong link between “religion and suicide for queer youth.”

While religion decreases the likelihood of attempted suicide amount youth who do not identify as LGBTQ, the exact opposite is true of those who identify as LGBTQ+. The article in the Huffington post notes the following:

The study authors found that religion may have acted as a protective factor against suicide attempts among heterosexual youth. Each increase in the level of importance of religion among straight youth was associated with a 17 percent reduction in recent suicide attempts.

On the other hand, for lesbian and gay youth, increasing levels of religious importance were associated with increased odds of recent suicidal ideation. In fact, lesbian and gay youth who said that religion was important to them were 38 percent more likely to have had recent suicidal thoughts, compared to lesbian and gay youth who reported religion was less important. Religiosity among lesbians alone was linked to a 52 percent increased chance of recent suicidal ideation.

We, as churches and campus ministries, need to talk about sexuality – not only because it is a huge part of our lives and our relationship with God – but also because talking about sexuality well saves lives.

Can one be non-Affirming and Loving?

A recent NPR article talks about the challenges that Christian colleges face with welcoming LGBT+ students while also having the official policy that the Bible does not affirm same-sex relationships.

Mary Hulst, chaplain at Calvin College, explains the tension well.

“It’s a place where you need to be wise,” Hulst says. “I tell them I want to honor Scripture, but I also honor my LGBT brothers and sisters.”

It doesn’t always work out.

“Someone from the LGBT community will say, ‘If you will not honor the choices I make with my life, if I choose a partner and get married, then you’re not actually honoring me.’ I can understand that,” Hulst says, grimacing. “I can see how they might come to that conclusion. . . .”

Hulst says the struggle to find an appropriate response to her LGBT students is among the most difficult challenges she has faced as a college chaplain.

“The suicidality of this particular population is much higher,” she notes. “The chances that they will leave the church are much higher. These [realities] weigh very heavily on me.”