Including or Excluding, Embracing or "Othering": Dismantling Barriers to Preaching to LGBTQIA2 Siblings in Christ

Mary Lou Baumgartner


How can preachers preach in ways that include rather than exclude, embrace rather than “other” our “hearers”? How can we be “culturally competent” in exegesis of Scripture and context, in our preparation for preaching, and in the oral event of preaching? How can we preach resistance against barriers that tear people asunder—and yet, at the same time, establish and model our own healthy and appropriate boundaries? How can we speak so that each “hearer” hears the gospel, the good news of God’s love in Jesus Christ, instead of a word of rejection or “othering”?

This thesis:

  • Explores Hebrew and Christian Scriptures through the lens of “othering,” noting how God sends God’s people to embrace the stranger in their common life.

  • Uses the perspectives of biological and social sciences to examine the dynamics of “othering,” of ostracizing people and consigning them to the margins.

  • Borrows the work of Walter Wink’s Powers Trilogy to understand “powers and principalities” such as racism, sexism, and heterosexism.

  • Considers how social constructs of male privilege, white privilege, heterosexual privilege, abled privilege, and wealth privilege “other” persons and groups who lack privilege.

  • Follows L. William Countryman’s argument in Dirt, Greed, and Sex that Jesus crossed boundaries of purity and is not afraid to live among us.

  • Approaches preaching as an opportunity to embrace the “other,” to model words and actions of welcome to those who have been “othered,” and to nurture and challenge hearers to move beyond barriers against “others.” As an example, it offers a case study of preaching strategies to embrace people who identify as LGBTQIA2 by attending to their language and their stories.

Advocating that the preacher develop awareness of their own boundaries and the borders and barriers that divide or “other” people who are marginalized (and focusing on the LGBTQIA2 community as an example), I offer preaching strategies to welcome and embrace “others” more fully and to model and proclaim more effectively—in word and deed—a posture of tangible hospitality for the purpose of growing community and deepening a congregation’s discipleship.