Queer Grace: Visiting the Church That Said “I’m Sorry”

During the Pride March, a motley crew of individuals stole the spotlight with their peculiar signages expressing their apology on Christians’ behalf for condemning the LGBT community. One read “I’m sorry” while another assured them that Jesus didn’t condemn them…

On June 30, 2018, we saw the culmination of the Pride Month at Marikina Sports Center. Appropriately named Pride March, the parade attracted heaps of people, supporters, and detractors alike.

 June 30 Pride March
The June 30 Pride March at Marikina Sports Center.
(Photo by: Janin Volante)

However, a motley crew of individuals stole the spotlight with their peculiar signages expressing their apology on Christians’ behalf for condemning the LGBT community. One read “I’m sorry” while another proclaimed that Jesus didn’t condemn the LGBT members, and neither do the crew.

Freedom in Christ Ministries to the LGBT community: I’m sorry.
(Photo by: FCIM)

As a professing Christian with liberal views, I felt that what I saw was reason enough for me to contact the ones behind the impactful gesture. Turned out, they belong to a church here in Makati. I contacted them earlier this month and asked if I could visit their church the upcoming Sunday and pose a few questions. They consented.

I’m not very good with following directions, so I asked a friend of mine to tag along. As we were snaking through the outskirts of Makati, I was picturing the place we would visit. With my rather liberal and radical views, I thought I was prepared in every way. But the moment I faced the person I was contacting prior to the setting of that day’s appointment, my brightly lit face turned to one expressing shock and bewilderment. With a gaily smile, that person extended his hand toward me saying, “Welcome to the first gay-affirming church in the country.” Right then and there, I knew I was in for a lot.

Freedom in Christ Ministries

The church I went to was the Freedom in Christ Ministries (FICM), located in Brgy. Rizal, Makati City. It has been present since 2015, welcoming members of the LGBT community who are desperate to get to know God and have an intimate relationship with Him. But there are also straight people who are attending their services.

Pride March 2018
Taking pride in being part of the Pride March.
(Photo by: Janin Volante)

I learned they have been attending the Pride March for four consecutive years now and have been receiving both commendations and scorn from people since then.

What makes them different from the entire Christian community? That was what I sought to find out that afternoon.

Disclaimer: the church’s views don’t necessarily reflect the views of the writer or of the publisher. Also, the chief aim of the writer is to help initiate some sort of communication — if reconciliation is too much — between Christians and the LGBT community, and not the other way around.

Nothing out of the Ordinary (Almost)

FCIM praise and worship
The house-church setup at the FCIM.

Growing up in the province, I was used to the house-church setup which also happens to be the setup at FICM. They do what most Evangelical-Pentecostal churches do today: sing and dance in worship, observe the communion, listen to a preaching, and receive the minister’s benediction.

The only difference worth noting is that at the FICM, there were a good number of people belonging to the LGBT community who were seen in attendance, along with heterosexual attendees.

FCIM after-service dinner.
A hearty dinner after the church service.

I have to tell you, they were all-out in dancing and in singing to God. And they were very welcoming and loving. As a matter of fact, they even welcomed us to a hearty dinner!

Queer Theology

The congregation’s minister, Pastor Val Palmiano, explained how they are able to reconcile homosexuality with their faith.

“We affirm that they are accepted by God just as they are,” he said. “We do not say ‘you are accepted by God until you change.’ We do not convert them to become straight.”

In the middle of his explanation, I heard him say some sort of theology that he believes in. When asked to clarify, he said it’s Queer Theology.

Queer Theology is a theological method which presents the notion that being gay is not repulsive to the Christian God. According to it, being a homosexual is not a sin. Neither it is a disease nor a ticket to eternal damnation.

Pastor Val believes the same, even though he admits he didn’t at first.

He went on to cite a number of Biblical references which they believe support the tenet. Also, he pointed out that not once — not once! — in the Gospels did Jesus call out those who were identifying themselves as homosexuals, as well as those who were engaging in homosexual acts, if those are mutually exclusive.

Queer Grace

Does God’s saving grace trickle down to the LGBT community as well? He believes so.

Love wins
FCIM hugs LGBT members, a proof that love wins.
(Photo by: FCIM)

According to him, the LGBT, given the fact that they are people, are included in those whom Jesus died for. And according to an article on QueerTheology.com, “neither angels nor demons, nor well-meaning Christians armed with a handful of cherry-picked or out-of-context Bible verses can separate [them] from the love of God.”

The Bible is indeed full of stories about wretched sinners who turned into saints — David was an adulterer, Paul was a human rights abuser, Peter was a traitor, Jacob was a deceiver, and Abraham was a doubter. The list could go on.

Also, Jesus’ very own birth was a very controversial one. He was conceived out of wedlock, and by a Jewish teenager at that.

But as Pastor Val pointed out, Jesus spent more time rebuking those who were assuming that they were on a moral pedestal than rebuking those who admitted to their desperation for mercy. If Jesus didn’t condemn the LGBT community during his earthly ministry, then “why [are many Christians] so arrogant in their preaching of hatred and bigotry?”

FCIM
I (the guy wearing glasses and a backpack) wouldn’t leave without posing with them for a nice photo.

Amidst the flurry of criticisms and hate-speech that the group has been receiving, they continue to congregate. In fact, they are using the “I’m Sorry” campaign to preach the scandalous message of grace and love to the Filipinos, especially to the LGBT community and to the conservative Christians.

My experience at the FICM was so impactful that I was transported back to the time when Jesus took on human flesh. He challenged the social and religious norms at that time, and he even taunted the Jewish leaders to the extent that they ordered that he be crucified.

I once marveled at how Jesus treated the social outcasts during his day — he touched the unclean, he associated himself with a Samaritan woman, and he crafted stories in which the protagonists were the ones the Jews considered misfits. Why can we not do the same?

Regardless of whether Queer Theology is correct or not, members of the LGBT community are people and are dearly loved by God. And people whom God loves are as deserving as we are of a place in the society.


Should you like to learn more about the group and the Queer Theology, you may contact them through their Facebook page. Also, know that they congregate during Sundays at 4pm at Blk 133, Lot 7, Juan Luna St., Rizal, Makati.

5 comments on “Queer Grace: Visiting the Church That Said “I’m Sorry”

  1. Wow, this was powerful. If you have the time, maybe you could visit my blog, R 4 Rainbow? I’m trying to post a book on it, but I have no idea what to name it. Visit my blog for information and leave a comment. If you don’t want to, thanks anyway for this amazing article!

  2. “Queer Theology is a theological method which presents the notion that being gay is not repulsive to the Christian God. According to it, being a homosexual is not a sin. Neither it is a disease nor a ticket to eternal damnation. Pastor Val believes the same, even though he admits he didn’t at first. He went on to cite a number of Biblical references which they believe support the tenet. Also, he pointed out that not once — not once! — in the Gospels did Jesus call out those who were identifying themselves as homosexuals, as well as those who were engaging in homosexual acts..”

    —-THIS IS SHOCKING, to hear a pastor say this, if he did, this pastor does not really know the real God and Jesus, and will be used by the devil as a tool to divert people from Jesus’ truths. 1corinthians6.9-11 alone denies what you and that pastor said. GOD CLEARLY SAID homosexualITY, this act, is an abomination to Him, YES HE LOVES ALL HUMANS but those who have sex w the same sex he hates. YES ITS NOT THE PEOPLE, its the ACT but if a white shirt is soaked w colored ones, aint it gonna be colored as well? thats what God meant when He said ‘wrongdoers’. I have a dozen of gay friends, i love them all, but when they ask me to go to a gay bar w them, i refuse. if they ask me for a counsel about gay relationships, i answer w the bible, in short I DONT SUPPORT they homosexual DEEDS. i support their being human. and that church they are doing great w their ‘im sorry’ banners and welcoming them in the church FOR THAT IS WHAT WE CHRISTIANS SHOULD DO. but if the gays will go to church dressing up like women and start courting male church members, AND THAT PASTOR ENCOURAGES IT, then he’s no Christ disciple at all. again, hate the ACT, love the humans. u wanna learn more about it, ask God, its all just there in the bible. NO ONE SHOULD JUDGE, AND ALL SHOULD LOVE HIS NEIGHBOR AND ALL homosexual ACTS ARE AN ABOMINATION TO GOD. THESE ARE ALL FACTS.

    1. Hi sb. I thank you for being honest in your comment. As I have stated in my disclaimer, the view of the church does not necessarily reflect my views, nor of the publisher.

      Also, my genuine intention is for this article to become some sort of a prodding stick for Christians and the LGBT community to have a respectful and decent dialogue (if reconciliation is something that cannot be attained). I would never want to cause further discord between the two groups through my writing.

      To be sure, I do have my take on the matter. However, I only visited the church for one thing, and one thing alone: to find out what makes them different from other Christian denominations here in the Philippines. Nothing more, nothing less. That has been answered so far in the article.

      Should you have a message that you would like the church to receive, please do not hesitate to tell me. I can contact them on your behalf.

      Once again, thank you so much for commenting and for expressing your views. Have a great day!

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