This post is a part of an ongoing set of posts that is an email exchange between a friend and me. See here and here and here (in that order) for previous posts and comments (or just scroll down to earlier posts, but don’t miss the comments). I am intentionally not jumping into the conversation in the comments (just yet), but am glad to have my friend in the mix, and I am deeply listening to what each of you has offered. Thank you SO much for lending your voice to the conversation.
My friend replied (with a caveat of a head cold in case of fuzzy headedness):
i’m struck by your comment: “I think you are right—saying nothing is/can be dangerous. But so is saying something. Definitive statements draw circles, who is in, who is out. I just can’t be the one drawing those circles for the whole Body of Christ.” i think in some ways you’re right: conversations about doctrine or practices can make an in and out crowd. i totally get that. but i think there is also a point where one needs to say “NO” this is not acceptable. this is not what we are about. No, we do not condone spousal abuse. No, we do not condone racism. Does that leave some people outside of the circle? maybe. but there comes a point where, while praying and working for their reunification and healing you have to also say your presence or stance or attitude is harmful to our community.
i, too, want people to work things out in their own way and their own time. I get that there needs to be time and space for that to happen. and I’m okay with that. hell, it took me years to come to terms with my own life. i understand people have issues to work out. i’m okay with them being silent. but for those who have worked out the issues and who are afraid/refuse to take a stand because they will lose sway within whatever larger evangelical world in which they live, that i have a problem with. and i think that is what is happening with some of the spokespeople for solomon’s porch. and it’s toward them that my anger and frustration is directed.
and i TOTALLY HEAR YOU on not wanting to be “that” voice every time. and that’s why i want some of the straight folks to take a stand. i don’t want to be seen as “the trans guy”. i don’t want to have to be a walking educational flyer for people. i don’t want my other gifts and hobbies to be so overshadowed by this “queer” thing that that’s all people see when they look at me. which is why i need other people to be good allies. to do their homework and to advocate. and quite frankly when i was in my own discernment process about queer issues i really needed to hear from straight christians that queerness was okay. that would have meant the world to me.
and when i say that solomon’s porch needs to take a stand it’s coming from that place. it’s not that i need everyone to be at the same place in their journey, but i need for the folks who ARE at a place of acceptance to be gently nudging the others along. i need doug to not just say to me, “well, there are queer people here and we’re friendly” in my response to asking if solomon’s porch is queer friendly. he needs to be able to answer that question better. because what his words do is say, this is not a safe place for you. we’ll be nice to you, but we won’t support your “lifestyle”. that’s what i hear in his statement and that’s what i find so damaging.
and in light of all of the recent queer youth suicides the line that keeps echoing through my head (as a conviction to me) is “your silence will not save you.” i struggle with my own complicity because while i speak out for queer folks all the time, i also have the privilege of being invisible as a queer person. which doesn’t really relate directly to our conversation but i thought i would share it. i am just convicted in that when people DON’T take a stand, in effect they are taking a stand. if i don’t speak up when someone says something shitty because i don’t want to be seen as queer then i am at fault. if someone doesn’t stand up and speak out against bullying they are in effect saying that bullying is okay.
and again, none of this is to gang up on you or even solomon’s porch. instead i’m trying to speak to a larger issue that i see within the emergent church conversation.
i don’t want you to have to be or do anything you don’t feel called to. you deserve a place to simply be yourself and to worship.
anyway, hope this all makes sense. i am loving being able to have this respectful conversation with you.