Equity: An Irresistible Feast
Written by Isaac Archuleta
Executive Director, Spiritual & Relational Formation
Our time in Chicago was an amazingly refreshing time, particularly examining how to honor one another’s experiences. Our theme, Love Undivided, guided our conversation from keynote speakers to breakout sessions, eventually spilling into one-on-one conversations.
As members of the LGBTQ+ community and allies, we often defend non-binary identities of many, like gender non-binary and living within the spectrum of sexual orientations. In years past, however, we ironically found ourselves reinforcing one major religious binary: Side B or Side A. We had been caught in our own dualistic traps of in or out, correct or wrong, and righteous or sinful. But this year, being led by the premise of Love Undivided to honor everyone’s spiritual formation, we came together to initiate the beginnings of equity for all.
Some of you may remember my distinction between equality and equity. Equality is having a guaranteed spot at the table, but it comes with the obligation to eat the food provided by the host. Equity, however, is being invited not only to the table, but also to the kitchen. Equity allows one to contribute their unique, individualized spices to the recipe, precisely because sharing a co-created meal is what is important. The co-creation required by equity does not value one opinion or perspective over another. Equity necessitates, and even craves, the influence of another’s contributions.
At Q Christian, we want all the spices of the LGBTQ+ Christian community to be added to our recipe so that the organization can be influenced by individual thinkers—your stories, your lives, and the inherent diversity with which you have been created. As one of three co-Executive Directors, I have made it my personal vow to not only create a safe place for LGBTQ+ Christians and their allies, but to let the community shape, inspire, and flavor the organization. Anything less could not and would not be equity.
Ray Low shared some of his amazing insights as one who is called to celibacy. He called us into loving relationships, not to judge one another, but to know one another. As a major juxtaposition to Ray, one could find thought leaders speaking on sex and sexual ethics, shame inside of marriage, and a panel discussion that included polyamory. The Q Christian conference was not only a place created to demonstrate equality, but one that made room for all to share their unique perspectives and opinions, thus reaching for equity. As we planned conference, we wanted all to contribute to the recipes that eventually filled our banquet table.
But I must say, Love Undivided was not always comfortable. In fact, love and relational intimacy never are.
I used to think intimacy was made up by exciting experiences of realizing someone desired me - love notes tucked into my partner’s pocket, or memorable moments with family that left me feeling warm and connected. What I slowly began to realize was that intimacy is not only the idealized or the comfortable. Intimacy, I learned, is the stamina, much like roots of a tree, that holds the attachment of two people through a myriad of moods, phases, enjoyable moments, and challenging seasons, especially when winds are blustery and howling. Intimacy, although spectacular in many moments, is often the context within which mess, pain, and anger occur.
Plain and simple, intimacy includes all of the beauty and muck that comes with being close to someone else. As we strive for relational intimacy, beauty and disagreements are waiting for us.
Equity is the willingness, and even the invitation, to be influenced and shaped by intimacy.
During our time in Chicago, there were many stories that influenced us—some inviting us into meaningful conversations of safety, and others that left us squirming in our chairs. This, oddly enough, was the practice of equity.
Equity isn’t achieved when relationships are perfect and comfortable. In fact, equity is most convincing precisely when difference and discomforts flare.
And for this very reason, we have chosen to abide by the centered set of values that comprise the sexual ethics at Q Christian Fellowship.
A centered-set value system has been embraced by Q Christian Fellowship because values guide moral development, rather than assert claims that one can know the full truth or that one can have a corner on righteousness. We have seen that it is important to cherish one another’s experiences of God, particularly because God is forever leading us on a unique journey. Cherishing this fact is what allows Q Christian to be a safe haven for all members of the LGBTQ+ Christian community.
As we continue to practice reciprocity—the give and take of relationships—we will experience the joy of equity by allowing someone else to contribute to our favorite recipe, an experience that introduces us to an expanded view of God’s richness. Sometimes, our co-created recipes won’t be immediate masterpieces, but if we work together persistently, we will create an irresistible feast.
As many of you have walked away from conference and back into your individual lives, may you be able to contemplate and see that the practice of Love Undivided shapes your spiritual journey and cultivates relational intimacy.
How have your efforts to embrace equity left you uncomfortable?
In what ways have you been denied equity?
In what areas are you needing to practice equity, specifically to open up to God’s diversity within humanity?