J-FLAG welcomes the Church’s leadership and call to ensure a more ‘wholesome, Christ-centred and engaging perspective on sexuality is included in their discipleship programme’ as articulated in the paper, which was published on September 25, 2013.
It is encouraging that the Jamaica Council of Churches has used its position as a historically well respected faith-based organisation to lead in engendering a more ‘welcoming and non-judgmental space’ in the Church.
As you may be aware, it is not uncommon for the Bible to be used as a justification to isolate, harass and persecute LGBT people. I commend you and your team for encouraging your members and the wider religious community to avoid using speech and taking actions ‘that could ostracize, incite violence or any other treatment of indignity towards persons who are homosexuals.’
I am aware this has taken the JCC some time to develop this position and I acknowledge, as stated, that ‘differing interpretations of scripture have led to varying theological positions’ relating to the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. We however wish to note, with concern, that some of the language used in the position paper is problematic.
Nevertheless, J-FLAG welcomes and is encouraged by the call for constructive dialogue on the varying points of view with an overarching desire for the human dignity of LGBT people to be recognised and protected irrespective of ideological differences in opinion. We consider this as an important opportunity for us to work together to bring greater understanding on the issue of sexual and gender diversity amongst your members so that we can all work from a place love, compassion and grace.
We are therefore willing and eager to work with the JCC to refine and develop the position paper, where necessary so that we can support a process to mitigate the harm caused to LGBT persons and their families, including those who are Christians.