Well shit, wouldn’t you know it. There I go again. Getting all rightous and ‘hey what about blah blah blah’ today. But honestly I have a stick, and its stuck up my craw, and it apparently won’t shake loose until I say something. So here goes.
Last year an amazing event took place in the Twin Cities. Christianity 21 was to be a transformational, game changing event. I went. It was.
But not even a year later–how is it that when we are talking about who is in, and how the church connects with the “other”, in this case “the gays” we get an all white male panel? (see Patheos’ conversation called Rebuilding Bridges: Evangelicals and Gays) Don’t get me wrong, I am all about civilized, respectful dialog for sure. And I appreciate the stance that some have boldly taken, to a great cost in some cases, to be allies to the LGBT community. But no people of color? No women? Come on Patheos folks. Why? When we are talking about building bridges, ideal relationships, I don’t care with whom–its all G-d’s people and creation–why are we still stuck in a time when the “expert answerers or panel” does not at all fully represent the (evangelical) church. Where is the Kingdom perspective?
Here is the question they pose – and to be fair, my response.
Evangelicals are often portrayed as homophobic or hateful toward gays. If you could envision the ideal relationship between evangelical churches and gays, what would that relationship look like?
Be the church, a hip phrase perhaps you have heard, a spin on Ghandi’s quote “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” So–yes, I suppose there are many people who believe that evangelicals are the same as evenagelical churches. I, however, am not one of those people. Why? Because I am an evangelical, and the implied evangelical churches I hear this question talking about imply something else than the communities of faith that I belong to.
Yes, some of you may want me to drop that label, you may say I am not that kind of evangelical, but here I stand, I can do no other than to claim the name of Christ crucified and say unequivicolly that I believe it is my call to live out the promises I made in my baptism (see here and here), to seek and serve and love all persons, with G-d’s help.
But, what would I want the relationship to look like, between churches and gays? Simply, in a word, open.
Open to hear what the Spirit is saying to the church in that place. Open to anyone who might walk in the door, or who may be a neighbor. Be open to the wonder and mystery of G-d’s creation–which is good. Open to a new relationship–one that may challenge or frustrate. Lord knows, I am challenged and frustrated with rich people, compulsive gamblers, depressed people (like myself), suburbanites, and people who think I am stupid or should be dismissed. Its frustrating to be in relationships, period. But that should not mean shut the door, walk away, judge and/or crucify. It means move closer in, listen to G-d’s people–the beautiful, broken, hurtful, comforting, lovely bunch of mess that we are. And listen to what G-d is doing/saying/breathing/whispering.
Someone recently asked me to imagine that the person who I am engaged in conversation with is saying whatever it is that they are saying, with the best of intentions. I think this is a helpful and productive way to move forward, with respect and good intentions.
Lord, help me to remember. I WILL seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving my neighbor (yes even the annoying jerky ones) as myself (for I know I am one of those annoying jerky ones too). I will do it, with Your help. Amen.
(p.s. No “women voices who are classically trained evangelical missiologists” really? If you know some, would you add them to the list? Thanks.)
Here ends the rant.