come out come out: a conversation

A while back a conversation started with a friend on twitter. The conversation was sparked from mine and sweeties “soapbox sermon” we gave earlier this summer at the community we belong to—Solomon’s Porch.

In case you haven’t read or listened to it, here is the short version:

  • We are happy to have found a community of faith to call home.
  • At the Porch, we are openly who we are (we’re out) and feel welcomed and valued for who we are.
  • Though the community—Solomon’s Porch—does not have a flag or sign hanging out front stating how they feel about LGBT people, one way or another, we feel safe, happy and like we are important contributors to the community.
  • Go read the rest here if you would like.

So here is the deal. I got some loving push back. I will be posting most of the conversation here on the blog (with permission) because I find it challenging and I have spent a great deal of time thinking about what my friend has said. I want to wrestle out loud with my friend, and engage my community of faith in the conversation. So please, join me, jump in. I will post it in parts, and will be looking forward to what you have to say.

Part 1: My friend offers this email in response to the sermon.

hey rachel!
i started this out as a post on your blog but it got a little long.
plus, it’s something that’s on my heart but i didn’t necessarily want
it to take the focus off of the really great message you shared at the
porch the other night. if you want to post this on your blog either a
comment or in some other fashion you can feel free! or if not that’s
fine as well.

thanks for sharing what you said last night. first, may i say that i
am so happy that you have found a home and a spiritual community that
fits you and you feel safe in.

i, too, agree that it’s not about having a rainbow flag in the church,
it’s not about the stickers or having a church that is predominantly
queer. like you said church is about a community of people growing
together and breaking bread together. it’s not vital that everyone
believe the same things.

but may i gently push you a bit?

i think that sometimes when we find a church that feels like home we
can overlook some of the larger issues that come into play. while you
have found a home that you feel safe and welcome in, there is real
trouble with a church that won’t state, without hedging, that they are
queer affirming. when i hear from doug in response to the question “is
your church queer friendly?” “we have queers here,
and we’re friendly” (which is what he said to me when i asked him
that) what that says to me is: “sure there are gay people here. and i
refuse to take a stand on that issue because i don’t want to push
anyone away.” and that is not okay with me anymore.

for some of us we are settled in our queerness and don’t need it to be
affirmed. it doesn’t have to be the topic of sermons or in the hymns.
we don’t need there to be a gay support group or social outings.
however, i am no longer willing to be in communion with people who
won’t take a stand for the oppressed. if a church can’t come out as a
supporter and ally of queer people i think they actually do MORE harm
than people like fred phelps. which sounds harsh, but let me explain:
with fred i know exactly what i’m getting. i know he hates me. i know
he thinks i’m going to hell. and because he is so vocal about it i can
stay away.

There will be a second part to my friends message, to be continued tomorrow…

(feel free to chime in at any time)

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7 thoughts on “come out come out: a conversation

  1. hmmm. I get where she’s coming from–it feels like a lukewarm lack of commitment. But for what it’s worth, we’ve been down this road before. Several years ago one of our gay covenant participants was asked to be on what in our old structure was called the leadership co-op. At the time, all of the covenant participants voted to accept people to this position as a way of saying, “Yes, I affirm that this person has my permission to make decisions for the community on my behalf.” There was one person who raised an objection to a homosexual holding a leadership position in the church and while Doug and the rest of the leadership co-op at the time spent lots of time talking with that person about his concerns and letting him know he’d been heard, it was always completely clear that we stood firmly on the side of the gay person. The person who raised the objection did what he could to gather like-minded protests, but the vote was unanimous and not a hand was raised to object to the decision and it never came up again.

    Depending on your perspective, I suppose someone could say that we squelched the opposing voice, but I can assure you that’s not how it played out. That person was given all kinds of air time and invited to cast his vote any way he wanted to. In the end, he didn’t vote at all. At the same time, there was never any consideration of backing off of the decision to ask the gay person to be in a leadership position. We were willing to let the community decide and it did, unequivocally.

    I guess I say this as a way of letting your friend know that while we are non-committal in words, we are highly committed in action.

  2. oh, one other thought. I like to believe that by resisting the pull to make a stand in some official capacity (and I feel this way about other issues on which we don’t have an official stance but rather a practical one, such as the role of women or the view of the atonement)that maybe we are a more welcoming place for those who would never set foot in a “liberal, queer-affirming church” but who will instead come to love and accept queer people because they’ve had the chance to be part of a loving, living community with them. They get to step gradually toward a new understanding instead of being forced to choose sides from the get go. Someone might never attend a church with a female pastor, but she can come to the porch and every now and then hear a woman preach and slowly come to discover that it’s okay for a woman to talk about God from the spinning stool.

  3. Pingback: come out, come out: a conversation continues « The Sweet Bi and Bi

  4. Great conversation, I totally get the struggle people might have with a church like ours that doesn’t use labels and find them less clarifying and not more.
    We are trying to be clear that all are welcome.
    I am not sure what could be more clear about Solomon’s porch position than us having gay people lead a sermon.
    Not sure how we could stand any more with the oppressed than to allow them to lead.
    Not sure what more we could do to say that all people, oppressed and otherwise are welcome to participate and lead our community.
    Not knowing your friend I would dare say that her/his church may not practice inclusion as much as they speak about it.
    I know a lot of places that state their support but don’t put it into action.

    I really don’t know what more we could be doing.

    We simply don’t use categories to describe ourselves. We are not an emergent church, even thought I started the network, we are not an anti-slavery church even though we work to stop slavery, we are not a Guatemala loving church even though we go their every year. We simple are us, a community who will be judged by our actions.

    And, I can assure all that this hesitancy to not chose a label is not a bout fearing pushing people away. We just don’t use them.

    But to be clear (as Obama) would say, we are open to all people and are so as a result of the call of the gospel. We encourage others to stop their bigotry and exclusion. And we encourage people to do so in word and deed.

    Great conversation.

  5. I think The Body of Christ is comprised of queers and bigots and queers who are bigots and bigots who are queer. If there are no barriers whatsoever to out queer folk participating in leadership – if there are no barriers to queer folks’ relationships being seen as valid and holy and beautiful then I see no reason why having an official statement should be the standard by which a community is judged vis-a-vis welcome and inclusiveness. If the Lion shall lay down with the Lamb then why should churches no include people who differ on certain issues?

    my 2 cents,

    nbw

  6. Pingback: come out come out: and then she said … « The Sweet Bi and Bi

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